How To Set Up Hookah: Updated 2023

hookah lounge with a symbol of hookah

It doesn’t matter whether you are a pro or a beginner hookah smoker; you need to learn how to set up hookah like a pro.

And in this article, we will learn the same thing that will provide you immense joy in your life.

As hookah smoking can be a joyful thing for many smokers, I know it is joyful for you; that is why you want to know how to set up a hookah.

Before you move ahead and make mistakes while making and setting up your hookah, you need to read this article until the end, as you will find fascinating information that can be a great help to you in setting up the hookah.

And If you are a competent beginner in hookah smoking, you need to first learn about the basic hookah and its different parts to understand its works.

Understanding and knowing about all the hookah parts and accessories will help you make a good set of them and have an excellent hookah session with your friends.

After all, we all are doing it for smoking and to spend quality time with our loved ones.

How To Set Up A Hookah

An image showing all the different parts of hookah

To understand the whole process, I have separated the process into two different parts, and in the first part, we will learn how you can set up the pipe or hookah in an effective way that would help you make a better hookah session.

And in the second part, we will learn how to smoke a hookah by making the best shisha flavor, putting it into the hookah bowl, and starting smoking.

So, this will be very exciting for the one who wants to know the whole process of setting up the hookah.

Let’s start with the first part of this article and move ahead to learn all the basics of hookah smoking and to setup. Please do not skip any of the sections mentioned below; they all are essential to start a good hookah session.

Setting Up The Hookah

Different hookah parts, including hose, tobacco, bowl, coal.

This section will be very informative as you will learn about all the basic things of setting up a hookah. All the steps are essential to have a good hookah session, do not miss any of them.

Clean Hookah

The first thing you should do when you are thinking about smoking with your friends or family members is to clean your hookah, especially if you are smoking it after ages.

It would help if you cleaned the hookah with warm water and a soft brush which will help you clean all the small corners of hookah parts that otherwise you can not clean with both your hands.

Do not use cold water as it won’t clean all the stickiness of the hookah from the previous hookah session.

Disconnect all the hookah parts, including hookah shaft, hookah hose, hookah stem, metal tray, glass vase, hookah base, etc. You can skip the hookah hose if it isn’t recommended for washing it.

So, clean all the hookah parts with warm water and then clean them with a microfibre clothe that will help you soak all the water from the hookah accessories.

  • Cleaning a hookah after each session is essential for having an excellent next session. If you are not getting the taste right or see any residue on the vase, you should immediately clean your hookah with clean water.
  • Use a long and thin brush to clean all the parts.

Fill Water In The Vase

Now, let’s start the process of setting up a hookah. First, you need to take cold water to fill your vase with, as cold water will help you smoke comfortably.

Fill your hookah vase to cover 1 inch of the metal stem, and if you are smoking and setting up a mini hookah, you need to cover 1/2 inch of the metal stem.

You should not fill water more than the recommended measurements and leave space in the vase for smoke to dilute and create a good draw.

Adding Ice-Cubes: Suggested Not Mandatory

An adequately drawn hookah smoke will not be harsh, but it would be even smoother and more relaxed if you add ice to the hookah base.

And when you decide to add ice to the existing water in the base, you will require to pour out some of the water from the base to adjust its level to the stem.

If you fail to adjust the water level after adding ice to the base, your hookah smoking experience will not be as expected. It may also ruin your mood to smoke your favorite shisha tobacco.

Install Hookah Shaft Into The Glass Base

Now, it’s time to lower the hookah shaft into the hookah base to allow the hookah stem to enter the water in the vase. And to keep the base air tight, you should have a rubber piece that will fit around the top of the hookah base.

If you fail to seal the base and make it an air-tight hookah base, you will not have thick smoke from the hookah, and you will face complications in the draw from the hookah.

And if you think that the rubber piece is not fitting correctly, you can wet it with a bit of water or a stop of dish soap.

Attach The Hose

Hookah hoses will fit into the side holes of the shaft in the hose slots. And as the hookah base, shaft holes should be air-tight for a better hookah smoking experience.

There are some hookahs in the market that seal the holes if there’s no hose attached to the base. And in other hookahs, you are still required to attach hoses in the holes even if you are smoking alone.

Pro Tip: You need to check the water level before attaching the hose to the holes. If you find the water level too near your hose connection, you better adjust the water level; otherwise, your smoking will indeed affect the water.

Check Air Flow

Air flow is the most critical aspect of hookah smoking. So there’s a way to check if your air flow is correct.

Place a hand on the top of the hookah stem and block the incoming air from the top, and try to inhale from the hose. While inhaling, if you get any air into your mouth from the hose, you need to fix the deal because it is not sealed.

Check all the rubber pieces and seals throughout the hookah joints and try to examine them with a sharp eye; if you find any problems in the rubber piece, you should replace them with the better ones.

And if you are missing out on seals, you better find hookah grommets. It will work for you as a better replacement for the hookah rubber piece.

Put A Metal Tray On Top of the hookah shaft

Metal Tray is an essential part of the hookah setup, and you have to adjust it on the top of the hookah shaft to collect the excess tobacco and coal ashes that fall off the hookah.

Smoking The Hookah

Now comes the best part of the whole process, smoking hookah tobacco. There are multiple options available for smoking shisha tobacco, but before you purchase any scrap shisha tobacco, here is the list of the top 10 best flavors you need to check out.

After selecting your favorite hookah tobacco, it’s time to start making the world’s best hookah.

Mix The Shisha

tobacco flavors and coals

This is an integral part of the hookah-smoking process. Shisha is another kind of tobacco that adds flavors while smoking a hookah. It also helps you create thick smoke out of your tobacco.

Shisha also contains liquids that help you have a better tobacco flavor, and it usually settles down at the bottom of the hookah bowl.

Since it settles down at the bottom of the bowl, you need to give it a good mix so that the rest of the liquids get mixed with the other tobacco available in the shisha.

  • If you are a beginner and have never tried smoking a hookah before, I recommend you start with the tobacco-free hookah molasses to get going and try new things. It is because tobacco can be hazardous for beginners if you don’t know how much to consume.
  • As discussed easier, tobacco flavors come in various flavors, significantly affecting hookah smoking. And it would help if you tried different flavored tobacco until you finally get your favorite one which you can smoke till you die because hookah smoking is made for relaxing, so find your best comfort zone in the flavors and smoke them.

Sprinkle Shisha In The Bowl

Now, it’s time to fill up your hookah bowls with the flavors you like. For example, if you like mixed flavors, take a flavor pack and open it up.

Please give it a good mix in a dish and prepare it for the filling. To fill the bowl with the tobacco, you need to gently sprinkle the tobacco inside the bowl rather than pressing them hard into the bowl.

While sprinkling tobacco in the bowl, you need to press the tobacco lightly without pressing it too much in the bowl.

Air from the bowl should be able to pass, so leave an adequate amount of space in the bowl for the air to pass. And fill the bowl to the top leaving the 2 mm space from the top to prevent the tobacco from burning.

Use Heavy-Duty Foil

Lay aluminum foil over the top of the hookah bowl. It will help you place your hookah coals over the bowl for smoking.

Stretch the aluminum foil to the bowl edges and tight-fit the bowl’s corners. Make sure that your flavor in the bowl is secure.

If you do not have access to the heavy-duty foil, use standard aluminum foil but use two foil to make a stronger bond.

Or you can use a metal screen or charcoal screen made for this purpose. It will surely provide you with fantastic work in the hookah. However, most hookah smokers use aluminum foil in their hookah setup.

Adjust The Bowl On Top Of The Shaft

When you are ready with the hookah bowl, it’s time to put the filled bowl on the hookah shaft. Make sure that the hookah bowl fits the shaft properly with the help of a rubber piece to create a strong and sealed connection.

Poke Several holes On The Bowl Through Foil

Now, it’s time to poke holes in the top of the bowl covered with aluminum foil. So make sure to poke holes through the aluminum foil.

Use a toothpick and poke around 15-20 holes in the foil. And as you poke holes through the foil, test the air flow by drawing from the hose. If you don’t feel good drawing from the hose, poke several holes further in the foil.

Some hookah smokers like to poke holes through the shisha flavors to make space for heat to travel inside the shisha, giving them more intense flavors.

Light Coals

To start smoking, one requires charcoals to provide heat to the tobacco and produce smoke.

There are two types of hookah coals available in the market. Which one is good for you? Read along to know more.

Quick Light Coals

It is the coals that will start burning very quickly. Take a tong and pick coal in between the tong. Follow this process over a nonflammable area where the risk of getting fire is low.

Light with a match or lighter until it starts smoking or burning. And wait for half a minute to turn the coal into grey-colored ash, which will glow orange due to its flame.

These light coals are a cheap option for beginners, but they are not recommended for pro smokers as they may give a worse headache from smoking these light hookah coals.

Natural coals

Coals are essential for hookah smoking, especially when having a long-lasting session with your friends. Natural coals are the best coals to use in hookah smoking.

Expert smokers only use natural coals as they are long-lasting and allow you to have the original taste of the shisha flavors.

To prepare natural coals, smokers need to use a stove or electric burner to light these coals. It would help if you kept in mind that the ash would fall on the stove’s gas line.

And when the coals glow orange, you can take them out of the stove or electric burner and use them as per the requirements. It usually takes 10-15 minutes to be prepared.

Transfer Coals On Top Of The Foil

When you are done heating the coals of your choice, now it’s time to put them to work.

And coals work best on the top of the foil, where they stay heated and transfer heat to the tobacco that eventually will provide you the smoke you need.

Put the coals on the bowl over the aluminum foil, and make sure you place them evenly on the bowl to transfer the equal amount of heat to the tobacco down there. You can slightly overhang the coals on the edges of the bowl.

A common mistake some beginners make is putting the coals in the center of the bowl; this can make your shisha go wild, and you may feel the harsh tobacco in your mouth. Most importantly, the shisha won’t last more than you expect.

Many hookah smokers like to charge the shisha in the initial 3-5 minutes and draw slowly to make adjustments in the hookah, giving them space and time to create thick smoke.

Time To Go On A Ride: Inhale

This is the last and final step of setting up a hookah, and almost all smokers live for this step to happen as soon as possible in their life because it’s inhaling time.

And if you are yourself making and setting up the hookah, you most probably will be impatient, so right away, start smoking from the hose connected to the hookah.

As you start inhaling, the atmospheric air will pass the coals, making them heat up. And if you are impatient and pull the air very hard from the hose, you may have the hot air come into your mouth, and it may cause a cough or burn your lungs.

It’s suggested that you pull nice and slow like normal breathing, and in the meantime, you should also give hookah a sort of rest for a few minutes after a hard pulling session.

You may find difficulty producing smoke, and if you can’t see smoke in the vase, the suggested trick to generate instant smoke in the vase is to pull short and sharp air from the hose continuously; it will indeed work.


As we have completed the whole process of setting up the hookah, some of the new smokers and beginners may have questions in their minds about this topic. So, the FAQs section is for the people who want to know more about the topic.

I have shared some of the primary and most asked questions on the internet about this topic to help you understand the topic better and in-depth.

If you have any other questions in your mind other than the ones mentioned down below, you can ask your personalized questions in the comment section, and I will surely come up with a customized answer for that question.

How much water do I need to add to the hookah base?

You need to follow a set of rules, and the rule is to fill the base with water over 2 inches of the downstem. Do not fill the water over 2 inches of the downstem; otherwise, you may not have a good smoking experience. Water plays a crucial role in hookah smoking, but you have to be careful while adding it. If you add too much, it will spoil your mood for smoking, and if you add too little, it will also spoil your mood for smoking. So, making a balance as you do in your life is also required in the hookah.

How to clean a hookah?

Cleaning your hookah is mandatory, but if you are a beginner and don’t know how to clean a hookah, you better read this until the end. So, the first thing you need to do is prepare some warm water and keep your brush ready for cleaning. Then, disassemble all the hookah parts, clean them with warm water, and, if required, brush them in tiny little corners. Just rinse the hookah with the water, and you are good to go. Finally, after each session, you have to clean your hookah to maintain all the hygiene parameters and be on the safe side.


At the end of this fantastic article on setting up a hookah, I hope you have found all the information you were looking for at the beginning of this informative guide.

Still, if you feel you have something in your mind unanswered, you can always ask me in person by using the comment section.

But, before heading to the comment section, I recommend you read the FAQs section for more details, and still, if you feel you have some questions on which you need a clarification, you should not hesitate for a second and ask them in the comment section down there.

I have explained the whole process of setting up the hookah in detail, and any aspirant smoker can learn these steps very quickly and implement them at their home and start smoking.

Follow all the steps mentioned above in this article for a better hookah-smoking experience, and you will learn as you smoke in your life.

Make all the hookah sessions memorable with your friends and family members, and enjoy every draw from the hookah like it’s your last.

Hookah is meant for enjoyment, which you need to do while smoking.

Leave a Comment