How To Smoke Hookah Effectively [2023]

Hookah smoking is fun, and if you want to have fun smoking hookah, you better understand how to smoke hookah effectively to avoid any mistakes.

Smoking shisha is entirely different from smoking cigarettes or vapes. Although cigarettes create less smoke than hookah, hookah creates less smoke than vapes or e-hookahs.

However, people are more inclined toward smoking hookah and flavored tobacco. But cigarette smoking has its fan following.

Shisha tobacco comes in various flavors that hookah smokers love to smoke, and that is why brands are coming up with lots of flavor combinations for smokers to try.

If you are a beginner and don’t know how many shisha flavors exist in the market, you need to do complete research on the hookah flavors and their combinations, and it will help you understand the basics of hookah smoking.

When you know the shisha tobacco and flavors available in the market, you can move ahead with the other part of the process: setting up a hookah and smoking hookah like an expert smoker.

And if you are from the middle east, you may know about different names for the same thing.

I have shared the whole process of setting up a hookah to smoking it in a good way that will provide you with thick smoke and much-needed satisfaction, so I recommend you to read the whole article until the end to find out every small but necessary step to consider.

Tip On How To Smoke Hookah

Now, let’s state the process of smoking hookah. Before moving ahead, you need to keep in mind that the whole process is essential, and if you miss any of the steps from the process, you may not be able to set up the hookah properly, which may lead you to a terrible smoking experience.

So, it would help if you learned how a typical and traditional hookah works and the different components of hookah that you need to pay attention to learn well.

However, I have divided the whole process into three parts, including setting up a hookah, smoking hookah, and trying new techniques of hookah making.

If you read these three parts of the process, I assure you will be able to make a great hookah by yourself, and if your pro hookah smoker friends smoke from the hookah made by you, they will surely be impressed with your art of making hookah.

So, if you are ready and clear until now, we can start discussing the first part of the process, which is setting up a hookah.

Setting Up The Hookah

Now, let’s set up the hookah to start smoking and enjoying the shisha tobacco filled inside the hookah bowl. We will need different hookah parts and accessories to make a whole hookah system to set up a hookah.

So, you will learn each step and process to attach its different parts to another system. Do not miss any of the below-mentioned steps to learn more about setting up the hookah.

So, first of all, we will learn how a hookah works, and that will provide you with an overall idea about the hookah system.

Learn How Hookah Works

The below-mentioned points describe the essential hookah parts and how they work.

  • The hookah bowl is placed at the top of the hookah, and it gets filled with hookah tobacco; above the bowl, hookah coals are placed to provide the required heat to the tobacco to light up and produce smoke.
  • As you suck the air, the hookah will draw heat from the hot coals, and the heat will poke the tobacco to release the smoke, which will travel through the main hookah shaft.
  • Produced smoke will then leave the end of the shaft and enter the glass base at the bottom of the hookah.
  • The smoke will travel through the water and air in the base and make itself more relaxed to be sucked from the hookah smokers.
  • Then the smoke will travel through the hookah hose to your lungs.

Clean Hookah Properly

maintaining necessary hygiene is much needed not only in hookah but in your life also.

Tobacco smoking by using tobacco products through hookah will surely make a mess, but if you hate the dirty hookah and its parts, you are on the right path to achieving the best smoking experience.

Expert hookah smokers suggest beginners maintain a high level of hygiene in the hookah to have the best hookah smoking experience. They also recommend you wash your entire hookah after each smoking session.

Washing your hookah after each smoking session helps you maintain a high level of hygiene. The hookah collects the residual flavors and tobacco that sticks inside the hookah parts and walls, including the base, hose, steam, etc. If you don’t wash your hookah and its parts correctly, you may get problems while smoking the hookah, and these problems will not let you smoke properly.

To clean all the hookah components, you need to wash them with soapy water, but you need to make sure that you are not washing your traditional hoses that may get rust after washing them with the water.

Besides that, modern hookah hoses made with flexible silicone material allow you to clean your hose with water as many times as you want.

However, washing your hookah after each hookah session is recommended, and deep clean all the components after 3-4 intense hookah smoking sessions.

Pour Water In The Base

Setting up the hookah is an important step or process, and if you ignore this step carefully, you may lose the hope of getting a perfect hookah to get the best hookah smoke.

First of all, look in the base where your downstem ends, note the ending of the stem, and mark outside of the base if needed. Now, remove the shaft from the hookah base, and pour cold water into the glass base.

And make sure when you add the stem into the base, the end of the stepped tip should be 1 inch below the water’s surface for a better hookah smoking experience and thick smoke.

If you don’t know how much water needs to be in the base and add too much water, it may ruin your hookah smoking. And if you add too little water to the base, the hookah-smoking experience would be the same when you add too much water; Ruined.

So, it’s necessary to learn how much water needs to be added to the glass base.

Assemble All Parts

This step is straightforward, as you need to attach all the parts, and you are good to go.

First of all, fit the shaft to the glass base, and connect the one end of the hose to the side of the shaft. Do not forget to add a rubber seal that makes every joint properly sealed and prevents leaks.

Connect the hookah bowl and the shaft at the top of the hookah and test its connection for better working. And if all the parts are looking confident while connected, you can remove the bowl for now and proceed further with the rest of the process to complete the whole setup.

Pro Tip: Attach all the hoses in the ports if you have more than one hose port on the side of the shaft to prevent any air leaks and ensure the seal of all the joints on the shaft.

Test Airflow

Now, it’s time to test the airflow of the hookah, and it all depends on the best airflow to have a great smoking experience.

To test the airflow, block the top of the shaft with your hand and then start the inhaling process from one of the hoses connected with the shaft.

And if you get any of the air from the hose when the top of the hole is blocked, there must be a leak, and your airflow in the smoking process will get affected.

To prevent these leaks, you should re-check all the holes and joints of the hookah system to know more about the leaks. And once you find any leaks in the joints, you may fix them by adding a rubber grommet.

And if your rubber grommet is not fitting correctly in the joint, you may wet that grommet and try it again to seal it.

If you find the connection between the shaft and glass base is not correctly sealed, you need to wrap the masking tape around the shaft and glass base joint. And you need to add more layers of tapes until you get your joint fitted correctly and it’s easy to remove for the washing.

If you find any other joints compromised, you may wrap an aluminum foil or wet paper towel around the joints. And if you are wrapping the moist paper towel around the hoses, you should remember to dry them right after the hookah session.

Smoking Hookah

After setting up the hookah correctly like a pro smoker, it’s time to set up a shisha perfectly for a better smoking shisha experience.

Many hookah smokers make a common mistake in preparing shisha correctly, and some of them also pack shisha poorly in the bowl, which leads them to a bad smoking experience.

There are techniques you need to follow to pack a hookah bowl properly. And if you fail to pack a bowl correctly, you may not get the type of smoking you are looking for from the hookah.

To smoke shisha, you need to think like a pro shisha smoker, and you would only be able to think like them if you spend time smoking shisha.

So, practice is the answer to being an expert hookah smoker.

Pack shisha lightly Into the bowl

Unpack your shisha from the container, and give it a good stir until you see the shisha tobacco mixed well and form a bit of moist content.

Now, take your hookah bowl, and fill the shisha tobacco products in the hookah bowl slowly and lightly. Do not rush to add the new flavors into the bowl or try to push the flavors into the bowl hard. It may ruin your water pipe smoking experience.

Do not drink water while smoking hookah. Instead, pack the bowl with shisha until you know the limit for the bowl to fit in more shisha. And generally, the limit of any bowl is 3/4 of the bowl.

When you add the shisha into the bowl, lightly press it, but do not press too hard as it may create a solid form of shisha that would not let you smoke comfortably. And create an even layer of shisha inside the hookah bowl.

If you press shisha too hard inside the bowl, it will be difficult for you to pull air from the hookah and smoke.

And if you see any tobacco pieces large that would not fit into the bowl, you need to cut the shisha into smaller pieces for better accommodation of shisha flavors in the bowl.

Cover the bowl with perforated aluminum foil or screen

When you buy a hookah set, it comes with different accessories, including aluminum foil or a screen that sits on the hookah bowl and does not need any further preparations to make it a good fit.

Most expert hookah smokers avoid using screens and prefer to replace the screen with heavy-duty aluminum foil, which helps them reduce the overheating of the subject and provides more control over the foil.

To fit the foil over the bowl, you need to stretch the foil and place it over the bowl, cover all the edges of the bowl with the foil, and make a good packing of the bowl with the foil.

Once you cover the bowl with the aluminum foil, slowly pull down the foil from all over and make the foil’s surface smoother and flat.

  • Ensure the shisha tobacco is not in contact with the foil from inside to avoid a horrible smoking experience and burning of the shisha tobacco.
  • If you do not have access to a heavy-duty foil and have a normal one, try to use two ordinary aluminum foils to make a strong inhale layer.

Poke holes in the foil

Once you are done covering your bowl with the heavy-duty aluminum foil, it’s time to poke holes into the foil to allow the air to travel through the shisha; hence smoke travels through the hookah to your mouthpiece.

If you poke large holes into the foil, the more hot air will pass through the bowl of shish. But it also has an increased risk of burning tobacco. So, draw air slowly from the hose and poke small holes.

You will require to experiment yourself by poking the holes and the numbers of holes in the foil to get a precise amount of smoke from the hookah.

Find a balance between poking the holes and getting enough smoke, but you need to measure if you are getting harsh smoke from shisha or not.

  • If you are poking holes with the help of a toothpick or paper clip, try poking 15 holes in the starting to test out your smoking process.
  • And if you do not have access to a toothpick or paper clip, try using a pen to poke the holes. But you need to be extra careful while poking holes with the help of a pen due to its larger surface area compared to a toothpick will result in a giant hole in the foil.
  • If you are using an Egyptian bowl or a circular bowl, you need to start poking the holes from the outer surface of the foil and slowly come near the center.
  • And if you are not getting enough smoke from the hookah, you need to poke more holes, but you should not poke without measuring the smoke and heat coming from the hookah bowl.
  • If you have packed dense or sticky tobacco inside a bowl, you may need more than 50 holes in a foil to get proper heat.

Keep all this in mind while poking the holes in the foil, and if you need any further assistance in any step, you can comment on your questions in the section at the end of this detailed article.

Light hookah coals

Coals on the hookah bowl

There are different types of hookah coals and bowls available in the market. It is the most growing market right now; brands and manufacturers are coming up with innovations and new smoking products that younger generations would love to use whole smoking hookah.

If you are using a regular hookah bowl in size, you may need 2-3 medium-sized hookah coals to get going. But you can constantly adjust the number of coals you are using according to the smoke produced from that coal.

For example, if you get much less smoke by using 2 charcoal, you need one extra charcoal to produce more hookah smoke. And if you are getting harsh smoke from the shisha while using 4 coals on the bowl, you may require to decrease the number of coals on the hookah bowl.

Always use charcoals that are made for the use of hookah smoking, do not use any bbq charcoals which may contain any harmful chemicals that may affect your health badly.

There are two types of hookah coals available for smoking, and both of them are comfortable and can be picked with small hookah tongs and light at a non-flammable surface.

Those two types of coals are quick to light coals and natural coal. So let’s learn more about both of them to understand how and when you can use them in your hookah smoking.

When you smoke hookah with the help of coals, you are consuming toxic chemicals in your lungs that may become the primary reason for lung disease like lung cancer. And esophageal cancer.

Still, if you want to smoke shisha, lit coals for less than an hour, and do not frequently smoke during a day or week.

Do not forget to attach the hookah tray to the hookah while loading the coals on the bowl, and always use hookah tongs to pick the hookah coals and flip their sides.

Let’s talk about the types of hookah coals first.

Quick light coals

These are the coals that you can light up in 20-30 seconds with the help of a match or lighter. Once you give them light, they will instantly start processing and hurting from inside, and when they cover in grey-coated ashes, it’s ready to use and put on the top of the bowl over the foil to use it.

Quick light coals are easy to light up, but it’s tough to get a satisfactory hookah smoking experience from these coals as they do not provide you with the intense heat required for a better smoking session.

A lousy quality hookah coals smoke times emit carbon monoxide, which is terrible for human health and increases blood pressure.

Natural coals

The side effects of using natural coals are burning the tobacco, giving you a solid headache, and adding harsh smoke to your lungs.

You can light natural coals on an electric burner or use a stove flame until they turn orange.

Natural coals may take up to 10 minutes to turn orange and are ready to be used. Do not use a glass top stove or gas line where the coals’ ashes may fall under the gas line.

And when you are lighting the natural coals, flip every side for evenly burning the coals.

You can also use a heat management device for better hookah smoking.

Set up the bowl

hookah bowl filled with shisha flavors

When all the things related to hookah smoking are ready to use, including a bowl filled with your favorite shisha tobacco, heated coals, and all the hookah parts placed in their position, now it’s time to put a hookah bowl on top of the hookah shaft.

And place the heated coals on top of that bowl over the foil filled with your desired hookah tobacco.

Place the coals near the edges of the bowl and do not make common mistakes that a beginner would generally make by putting all the coals at the center of the hookah bowl.

If you perform this mistake on your bowl, you will instantly burn all your tobacco placed inside the bowl, and you will also get harsh smoke for the rest of your hookah session.

That would be an awful experience smoking a hookah, and if, as a beginner, you experience this kind of smoking, there are high chances that you would not prefer to smoke a hookah next time.

So, you need to follow all the instructions mentioned here in this article for a smooth hookah session. And before you start smoking your hookah, it’s better to give your tobacco some time to get heated.

Smoke shisha

Now, this is the moment you have been waiting for hours. So it’s a great time to start smoking your hookah gently.

Start drawing air from the hose, and do not rush in breathing while drawing air from the hose.

If you rush while inhaling, your hookah tobacco may overheat from the warm air coming from the coals.

So, to avoid all these overheating issues and others, I recommend you wait for some minutes to warm the hookah and then inhale from your own mouthpiece. As you smoke shisha, you will consume nicotine and other forms of heavy metals responsible for heart disease. And another disease control is needed. Otherwise, you may experience low birth weight.

If you are not getting enough smoke from the hookah, adjust the release valve and social setting in the hubble bubble to start smoking from the red hot coals and shisha.

And if you do not have access to burning charcoal at your place, you can use other options like quick light coals to start smoking.

If you think that one cigarette smoking is equal to one hookah smoking session, you are wrong. A hookah session consists of at least 200 puffs from a hookah, while one cigarette only has 10-20 puffs.

  • Drink more water before your smoking session to be comfortable while smoking with your friends and family.
  • You can also drink mint tea instead of regular water to keep your mouth wet and comfortable for a long smoking session.
  • Eat dried fruits and other light snacks that won’t trouble your smoking session.
  • And if you are a beginner in hookah smoking, expert smokers recommend you to stick to smoking one hookah bowl a day and slowly increase your limit as you make yourself comfortable with the smoking.
  • If you are a fitness freak, you should avoid doing exercise before and after the hookah smoking session.

Adjust heat

An ordinary hookah bowl lasts 30-45 minutes, and if you start smoking too quickly, it may even last for fewer than that, or sometimes it depends on your luck.

So, here are some adjustments you can make to slow the burning of your shisha tobacco and have a long-lasting smoking session with your friends and family members.

  • You should move or change your hookah coals placed on top of the bowl for better heat penetration into the bowl. Or you can tap the hookah coals with the help of hookah tongs to knock off all the ashes stuck on the coals and stop the heat from moving ahead. And flip the coals on the side of the foil for better smoking.
  • Whenever you see the smoke rise from the hookah bowl, even before you start smoking, it is recommended not to start smoking and wait for a few minutes to let the hookah cool down to neutral.

Trying New Hookah Techniques

New hookah smoking or adjusting techniques will let you make a good hookah set for better smoke output and smoking of overall hookah tobacco.

Sometimes, beginners do not know the pro settings to enhance the hookah smoking experience.

So, we will look into some of the best new techniques to enhance hookah smoking and have a great time with your friends and family over hookah smoking.

Change water or Its temperature

If you want to feel magic in the hookah smoking, you are pretty unhappy with the result from the current water in the base; you can change the water to cold water or add ice cubes to the existing water to raise its temperature.

Most hookah smokers find cold water a great and comfortable way of smoking hookah.

But, warm water in the base will filter out more harmful chemicals than cold water.

So, it can be a topic for discussion, but if you want to enjoy hookah smoking without worrying about the health issues, you should use cold water in the hookah base.

Add exciting substance to the base

Most people who regularly smoke hookah will get bored someday, and when they get bored of smoking ordinary hookah with simple water in the base, they will start experimenting with all the things they get their hands on.

And here are some of the things you can try, even if you are not bored from smoking an ordinary water-based hookah, but if you like to try something new, you can try these adjustments to your current hookah setup.

So, if you are wondering what things you can try to add excitement and new flavors to your regular hookah, you may read along to know.

If you have water in the base, you can add fruit juice, wine, mint, frozen fruits, flavor extracts, etc., to enhance the flavor and taste of hookah.

And if you do not want water as your hookah base, you can try a different substitute for water in the hookah base for an exciting hookah session with your friends.

You can also use milk or other carbonated drinks in the hookah base for hookah tobacco’s different flavors and tastes.

And when you use milk or carbonated drink instead of water in the base, they all tend to create bubbles in the base, and when you have the bubbles forming in the base, they tend to leave their mark on different hookah parts including hose, and base. So, they make the parts sticky and hard to clean after the hookah session.

Still, if you want to use carbonated water in the base, make sure it is flat and has no bubble forming capability.

Another essential thing to keep in mind is never drinking or eating the substance you use in the hookah base, such as water in the base or tobacco in the bowl. Instead, they contain harmful chemicals that may cause severe damage to your body’s internal organs and different parts.

And always clean your hookah thoroughly after each hookah session; no matter how long you smoke, you have to clean it with warm water or soapy water to ensure the hookah’s every part is clean and ready to use in the next session.

Use various shisha options

Shisha tobacco is a personal choice, and it is not necessary that what flavors I suggest here will be the only ones worth smoking. But, no, it’s not. You can try different shisha flavors yourself and see the flavors you like the most to smoke with your friends.

If you are not smoking tobacco and want to try something as exciting as tobacco, you can try Herbal shisha, which comes tobacco-free.

These tobacco-free flavors are an excellent way to start smoking as a beginner. Since these flavors do not have tobacco, they might not last as long as another tobacco shisha. So, I recommend you use fewer coals on the top of the bowl.

And when you use fewer coals, you need to place them around the edges of the bowl for a better smoking experience and long-lasting shisha flavors.

If you are using sticky shisha, you may need larger coals to burn your shisha correctly, but once the sticky shisha gets heated, it produces nice and smooth smoke that a hooka lover loves.

On the other hand, Leafier tobacco has strong tobacco content, not recommended for beginner smoking. So, whenever you come up with this type of shisha, you should take suggestions from expert hookah smokers.

Switch coal or brands

Most shisha smokers use quick light coals as a beginner, and when they find themselves comfortable smoking hookah regularly, it’s better to switch to natural coals or some other brands that are good for pro smokers. These natural coals are made from coconut hair, lemonwood, and bamboo.


Now, it’s time to look at some of the most asked questions on the internet about the topic to understand them better and learn smoking from them to practice hookah smoking better.

Who can smoke hookah?

Anyone can smoke hookah, but it depends on your country and its rules and regulation. You have to follow the rules, and if your country has a rule for smoking at the age of 21, it’s illegal if you are not 21 and still smoking hookah or tobacco. Otherwise, you can freely smoke hookah and different tobacco flavors if you fall under the right category to smoke tobacco.

How to smoke hookah produce thick smoke?

If you want to produce thick smoke from your hookah, you need to make a few adjustments to your hookah setup. First of all, check the hookah bowl and shisha packing; if it’s hard and solid inside the bowl, you need to change it to a light packing. Then you need to look at the water level in the base; if it’s more than the recommended level, you need to make adjustments there also, and finally, look at the coals you have placed on the top of the bowl. If it’s more than required, try decreasing the number of coals from the bowl and start smoking again. You will indeed feel the difference in smoking.


We are at the last section of this complete article on how to smoke hookah, and I hope you have read all the essential information I have mentioned in the article above to learn about the topic.

If you have any questions about the process, you can read the FAQs section, where I have listed some of the most asked questions on the internet about the topic.

And if you still have any other questions in your mind unanswered, you can ask me in the comment section below, and I will get back to you asap.

Other than that, I have mentioned the whole process of making the hookah to making the shisha and setting up the hookah properly like a pro smoker to start smoking and enjoying the shisha with your friends.

I hope you find this article valuable. Happy smoking. Try different things to stay connected with the smoking and enjoy every bit of your life.

Our author
Peter Russell

I smoke hookah every day. Like daily with my gang. This is what I love the most when the thick smoke comes out of my mouth, giving me the best feeling in the world. I have been smoking hookah since 2010, and one day, my friend suggested I share my experience with the newbies. So here I am sharing my whole lot of experience of smoking. Use my tips to smoke better and enjoy every day of your life.

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