How to Use a Hookah

Hookah smoking is an excellent social activity, it is also a flavorsome and healthy way to ingest tobacco smoke. Unlike regular forms of tobacco smoke, hookah smoking uses a water pipe that cools the smoke and prevents it from burning your lungs and throat. The tobacco used is also less harmful as it contains fewer toxins and additives. In this article, we discuss how to build a hookah, how to use a hookah, and what to expect from the experience. 

Getting Started 

A Hookah is a water pipe that is used for smoking special tobacco and other products. The tobacco is usually flavored such as apple, mint, cherry, chocolate, coconut, licorice, cappuccino, and watermelon. Smoking a hookah is thought to be less harmful than smoking other tobacco products. 

A hookah comes in two parts, a glass vase, and a glass gasket. To get started you will have to carefully place the glass gasket into the glass vase. Be careful not to damage the glass. The gasket should be airtight to the vase.   

Fit the Tray

Most hookahs these days have a head, a metal body, a water bowl, a flexible hose, and a mouthpiece. All these parts need to be fitted together in an airtight way to produce the most harmonious smoking experience. 

The next step is to place the metal tray on top of the hookah stem. Some models will have a tray that sits loosely on top of the stem, others have one that snaps neatly into place. If your hookah is smaller or less expensive it may come with a tray already attached. 

Fit the Hose Port

Hookah smoking is typically carried out in groups of people who pass the hookah between them, it is a communal experience. To facilitate this you need a hose attachment and mouthpiece. This is the next part to fit. 

The hookah stem will have a hose port, you will see this sticking out of the stem in an upwards position. Attach the hose gasket to the hose stem, this is easy to do with its screwing mechanism. 

Air Release Valve

When you get together with friends or colleagues to smoke a hookah and wind down after a long day or week, you want your hookah to work properly and cleanly. This is the purpose of the air release valve; this isn’t necessary for the hookah to function but it helps clear out stagnant or stale smoke.

Unscrew the air release valve in your hookah and check to see if there is a ball bearing inside. If there is, screw the valve back on. When you blow air back through the hose it will clear out stagnant smoke through this valve. 

Check the Airflow

The last thing you want is problems with your hookah when you have friends over for an evening. Trying to fix a hookah to get started again kills the mood and affects your reputation. Have a spare hookah handy, but also check your primary device. 

The airflow is a vital function of the hookah so check it thoroughly before use. Put your hand over the top of the hookah stem and suck through the hose. There should be zero air intake. You can also use the check valve for this, keep your hand over the stem and blow into the hose. The check valve should make a sound.   

Fill the Vase

To use a water pipe like a hookah you need to have some water in it. The water is used to cool the smoke as it is drawn up through the pipe and prevents it from burning your throat or lungs. This is one reason it is considered safer than conventional smoking. 

Carefully, remove the hookah stem from the vase and fill the vase with water. You don't need to fill it completely with water, and it's possible to use other liquids too. Replace the hookah stem which should be submerged in the water by an inch. 

Add Tobacco 

Tobacco used for hookahs comes in different flavors. Other than healthy smoking experience and communal experience, this is one of the perks of smoking a hookah. Use apple, mint, chocolate, or another favorite flavor. 

You will want to break the tobacco into crumbs before lighting it, this allows air to flow freely through the tobacco helping burn more better. Sprinkle it loosely into the clay bowl and fill it to the rim, but no higher. 

Fit the Bowl 

There are different types of hookah bowls to choose from. They were traditionally made from clay but nowadays you can buy them in lots of materials including silicone. The bowl will be heated by the coals allowing you to smoke the tobacco inside. 

The clay bowl then goes on top of the hookah stem in between the bowl and the gasket. It should fit neatly on this. Depending on the bowl's material you may have to wrap the bowl in aluminum. 

Light the Coals 

The fun part, lighting the coals. Hookahs are designed to produce a steady and consistent smoking experience, so hot coals are used to heat the tobacco underneath allowing you to draw smoke through the water and into your lungs. 

There are different ways you can light the coals. Instant lighting coals are available and they have their advantages, but they may not suit everyone. Other coals will require a stove or a torch to light. When the coals are red hot you'll want to break them down for maximum coverage. 


The moment you've been waiting for – to smoke. If you've followed the instructions above you will have a hookah that's prepped and ready to go, you should also have an idea of how to use it and what you'll get from the experience.

The smoke from your hookah might take some time to come out, so be patient, it takes time to generate. After a few minutes, however, you should be able to honk on your pipe and receive some cool hookah smoke in your lungs.