How to Pack a Hookah Bowl – Complete Beginner-Friendly Tutorial

Written by Jacob - Hookah Enthusiast

01.06.2021

So you are looking forward to sitting back and relaxing at the end of the day or maybe during the weekend with friends and a hookah in the center of the circle? Understandable. Everyone loves to smoke a good tasty homemade hookah. But maybe you are a beginner looking around for what will work best for you and how to pack the perfect hookah bowl? You’ve landed in the right place!

Before we start, there are two important things when it comes to packing the perfect hookah
bowl:

 

  • Selecting the right bowl for your hookah
  • Choosing high-quality shisha tobacco
  • Controlling the heat

Select the right hookah bowl

There is a vast range of hookah bowls on the market, but the three essential types are:

  • Classic Egyptian clay bowl
  • Phunnel bowl
  • Vortex bowl

Time to prepare the shisha tobacco

1. First things first, you should prepare the shisha. This happens when you mix it well while it is in the package. You want all the juices drained on the bottom to be distributed evenly on each tobacco piece. The reason is that if the tobacco is dry it burns faster and eventually will become bitter in taste.

2. The next step is to take out between 20 and 25 grams of shisha tobacco. This is the right amount of tobacco that should be fitted in a hookah bowl, depending on their size of course.

3. Cleaning and chopping the tobacco. You want to remove all of the big leftover sticks because they can make the shisha taste bad. Chopping is completely optional because most of the tobacco brands are prepared pretty well. However, there are some that need a little more attention before you begin to smoke.

4. Break up the shisha until it is nice and fluffy. Now you are ready to pack your hookah bowl.

How to pack the perfect hookah bowl

So you’ve already prepared your shisha tobacco, now it’s time to load your bowl.

There are several methods you can use for packing a hookah bowl, but we will not go in-depth about them.

We will focus on the most used method – light packing. It’s a popular technique of hookah loading and basically means lightly sprinkling and “airing” the shisha in the bowl.

The key here is to make the bowl airy, so sprinkle your prepared tobacco gently. If there is not enough air, then inhaling will be much harder and the shisha will burn faster.

The next crucial step is to not overfill the shisha bowl. The perfect hookah bowl will be filled nearly to the top of the edge.

How to pack a hookah bowl

How to pack the perfect hookah bowl

So you’ve already prepared your shisha tobacco, now it’s time to load your bowl.

There are several methods you can use for packing a hookah bowl, but we will not go in-depth about them.

We will focus on the most used method – light packing. It’s a popular technique of hookah loading and basically means lightly sprinkling and “airing” the shisha in the bowl.

The key here is to make the bowl airy, so sprinkle your prepared tobacco gently. If there is not enough air, then inhaling will be much harder and the shisha will burn faster.

The next crucial step is to not overfill the shisha bowl. The perfect hookah bowl will be filled nearly to the top of the edge.

This will prevent the shisha tobacco from burning and developing a bitter taste. Lastly, you have to make sure that the shisha tobacco does not touch the bottom of your heat management devices such as aluminum foil and metal screens.

This will distribute the heat nice and evenly, allowing the airflow to go out easily.

choose a heat management device

 

The last step of loading a hookah bowl is to place the heat management device on the top of the bowl’s edge. We recommend that you use a metal screen or lotus because it is easy to maintain the heat during the smoking session and there is less chance to burn the shisha.

The process of placing the screen is pretty straightforward. Just put it on the top, place three coals (not in the middle), and wait 3-5 minutes to heat it well. Now you are ready to smoke the perfect shisha!

Bowl & Metal screen

If you want to try the old-school method with foil, be careful because there are a lot of things that can go wrong. First, make sure you use the thickest aluminum foil you can find. If the foil is thin then there is a bigger chance of burning the tobacco.

Gently get a square piece of foil and place it on the top of the hookah bowl. You should play around and shape it well. The goal is to make it nicely flat and tight.

Once it is done, you should start poking small holes. Small! Not too big! Ideally, you want to start from around the edges and go all the way to the middle.

It should look like this:

foil-packed hookah shisha bowl picked

This technique applies to classic Egyptian bowls. If you use a funnel or vortex bowl, then the pokes must be around the edge and not in the middle.

And you are done! You’ve packed the perfect hookah bowl! The final step is to prepare your coals.

Placing the coals on your hookah bowl

Now, put two coals on the stove (I recommend using natural flat coconut coals) and wait until they become red on each side. Install your foil packed bowl on the top of the hookah and place the coals more towards the edge of the bowl.

They must be “face to face” and not in the center, otherwise, you will overheat the shisha and all the efforts will be wasted. Next, leave the coals for a couple of minutes allowing the shisha to “bake” well. 

Coals on shisha bowl

If you start feeling a harsh taste, then you must cool down the bowl. To do this, remove all of the coals, get your bowl, shake it well and blow the bowl from the downside a couple of times. This will chill the shisha. Finally, it’s time to take everything back but now the coals should be as far as possible from one another.

conclusion

I hope I was able to make it easy to understand how to pack the perfect hookah bowl. It wasn’t that hard, right? Just a bit of practice and you will master every technique of making the perfect shisha. See you in the next article!

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