Beginners Hookah Guide: Everything You Want to Know

Beginners Hookah Guide: Everything You Want to Know

So you’re just starting out with hookah and you got a lot of questions? We’ve all been there, this best hookah guide is made especially for beginners, after reading this article you’ll get the knowledge you’re looking for.

If you are a total beginner this is the first article you should read on my website, if not, jump over to my pick of best hookahs in 2021.

Let’s imagine you don’t know anything about the topic, the first question you would ask is what the hell is hookah? So let’s start with this.

Beginners Hookah Guide: Here’s How To Set Up a Hookah (Easily)

There are many newbies who struggle to set up a hookah for their first time, so I created a complete beginner hookah guide to simplify the whole process and make it easy for you.

Setting up a hookah…

What is Hookah Anyway?

Hookah is a smoking device, made for enjoyment. You can find hookah with one hose fitting or multiple hose fittings. This is not something new, Hookah has a very rich history. It originates from India but it’s quickly spread to the countries of the Middle East where it became a tradition.

People use a hookah for smoking aromatic tobacco named Shisha, but people also used it for smoking cannabis. You can read about the difference between hookah and shisha in the article where I already explained that.

Now you can get a picture of what hookah is, now let’s take a look at its parts and a principle of how it works.

Here are the parts that make hookah looks like most people know.
shows how hookah pipe work and hookah parts
The layout varies from the model that I will mention below. We can divide them by sizes ( small, medium, large) and type.

Different Types of Hookahs

Traditional Hookahs

Indian Egyptian and Syrian type of traditional hookah

There are three different types of traditional pipes (Indian, Egyptian, Syrian)

Traditional hookahs are usually handmade by skilled craftsmen. No traditional hookah has an identical shape, color, or size. Each one is handmade and that is why they can be very different from each other.

Traditional hookahs are a true masterpiece, owning such a pipe is a real pleasure, this is also supported by the fact that most hookah fanatics prefer the traditional type of hookah.

Glass hookahs

Fumo Design glass hookah with steel stand

Glass hookahs are modern variations of the traditional style of the shisha pipe. Usually, made of hand-blown or molded glass, those hookahs are a great choice for everyone who wants to enjoy pure shisha smoke without any background tastes.

The glass type of shisha pipes solved a big problem with traditional hookahs like rusting, and possible flavor ghosting from previous sessions. These shisha pipes are the choice of many shisha bars, except they look elegant, another benefit is they are very easy to clean.  I published a complete glass hookahs guide if you are interested to learn more.

Modern design hookahs

Starbuzz Carbine hookah

The future is now. That’s especially true when we take a look at how hookah design has evolved over all these years. The principle is still the same yet, designers tried to solve a problem that people have with traditional pipes, and there could be many.

Starting from stability and airflow to the leak of shisha juice into the base, those problems are now gone with the new modern shisha pipes made by a mix of traditional techniques and modern technology.

The combination of tradition and technology in modern types of nargile perhaps best shown by a truly unique Starbuzz Carbine shisha pipe.

Hookah pens

man smoking e hookah pen

Basically another kind of e-cigarette. Some disposable hookah pens vaporize a liquid that the maker’s claim has no nicotine, tobacco, or tar. This is hard to prove because the pens and liquids haven’t been studied or tested by independent research groups.

What is Hookah Made of?

Almost every hookah part is made from different materials except all glass hookahs of course. Starting from the beginning the vase in most cases is made of glass. For crafting a base non-penetrable, tempered materials are the best.

Hookah body or stem in most cases is made of stainless steel which is definitely what you want, except cheap ones where it’s used cheap metal or aluminum.

The best hookah hoses can be plastic, silicone, or made of some other material but these two are common and the best. Hoses are similarly made of an arrangement of styles and lengths. They are divided into washable and non-washable hoses.

The tobacco bowls are made of ceramic, clay, silicone, metal, plastic, glass, or combinations of those materials.

There are various types: Crown, Phunnel, Vortex, Egyptian, Syrian, Glass, Inverted, Electric, Apple on The Top, Glider bowls. etc. The most popular are made of ceramic, clay, and silicone. You can read more about it in our top shisha bowls guide.

 What are Hookah Coals Made of?

opened package of Ecocha coals and tongs
Hookah coals are mostly made of coconut shells at the same time this is the most popular type of coals, but a less known fact is that shisha coals could be made of lemon trees and bamboo.

There is another type of coals known as quick lighting coals. They are made of coal dust with added ingredients for quick lighting, usually sulfur. There is no doubt about which is better, every serious shisha smoker would vote for coconut coals.

There’re two main reasons for that. Coconut coals are

  1. Better because they are made from natural ingredients, do not leave unpleasant smells, and burns longer.
  2. Healthier because there are no chemical substances that may cause a health issue.

More about coals, how to light it, and what are the best of the best read in our ultimate guide of top natural hookah coals

What is Hookah Tobacco (Shisha) Made of?

red color hookah tobacco in plastic bowlHave you ever wondered what the hell you smoke? shisha tobacco is made of simple ingredients and its quality depends mostly on the shisha brand you smoking but usually, the main ingredients are:

  1. Tobacco: Dried and washed so it does not leave a classic smell of cigarettes. Although there is an unwashed type, usually in dark leaf tobacco-based shishas, this type contains a higher amount of nicotine and it’s not recommended for beginners. Learn more about the difference between washed and unwashed shisha.
  2. Molasses or Honey: These ingredients are responsible for tobacco juice, they also help tobacco burn slower.
  3. Natural glycerine: Basically, this thing is responsible for the huge clouds of smoke.
  4. Fruit pulp and fruit aromas: Although spicy herbs can also be added, these ingredients are responsible for the fantastic taste shisha gives. My pick for beginners would definitely be Starbuzz Blue Mist but you can also take a look at my pick of the top shisha flavors ever you’ll definitely find something for you. Watch this short video if you want to know how hookah shisha is made.

How to Setup a Hookah?

how to set up a hookah infographic

More detailed instructions you can find in our hookah setup guide but all you need is a vase, stem, hose, bowl, shisha, aluminum foil, coals, tongs, lighter, or strove depending on the coals you’re using, and ashtray.

  • Step 1. You must load your vase with water. You need to put enough water because the stem must pass through the water in order to filter the smoke. Usually, it’s half of a vase.
  • Step 2. The next thing you need to do is to fill the bowl with the shisha. First, you should fill from the side down to the center of the bowl. I will not go further with this because I’ve already covered that topic in-depth in the best ways to pack a hookah bowl article.
  • Step 3. Use aluminum foil to cover the top of the bowl. Squeeze the ends so the foil, it needs to be flat from the top. Then, you need to drill small holes, you can use a needle, toothpick, or foil puncher to do this (many tongs comes with a needle). Drill holes from the edges to the middle of the bowl but do not drill a hole in the middle. You need really small holes.
  • Step 4. When you have everything ready, all you need to do is to put the ashtray on the top and then place the bowl.
  • Step 5. The last step is to light your coal. If you use quick burning coals, then you only need a lighter. Take coal with tongs and light them with a lighter. On the other hand, if you burn natural coals then you have to put them on a stove. Here you can find the best hookah coal heaters and lighters.
  • Additional tip: When one side becomes red, Turn the coal to the other side, when both sides of the coals are become red, grab them with tongs, and put them on the top of the bowl.

How to Smoke a Hookah?

man smoking hookah
Smoking hookah isn’t rocket science, here’s an explanation on how to smoke hookah properly. In this part of the article, I want to explain how to smoke shisha in the proper way. If you think you can smoke from a hookah in the same way as a cigarette, you are wrong, you must inhale the smoke slowly and steady. Inhale the smoke slowly, until you fill the lungs, then exhale.

Sometimes you can feel something like dizziness or buzz, but it does not have to be mandatory due to shisha, it can happen because of the amount of air you inhale. Try to inhale a lot of air, and exhale a lot of times, you will have the same feeling. The tobacco you smoking will not cause any harm in terms of affecting your brain, but certainly, if you’re smoking tobacco with nicotine, it can cause damage to health in the long run. When you’re smoking, do not inhale too much or too fast, it will burn your tobacco.

Best Hookah For Beginners

This beginner’s hookah guide can’t be complete if I miss out on what’s the best hookah for beginners. So, let’s break this down.

As a beginner, it’s very difficult to decide which hookah is best for you. Keeping in mind, styles, sizes, different materials, and brands. It can be really overwhelming.

One thing is certain, DO NOT buy cheap Chinese nargile, it will ruin your experience. As cheap, I mean those without a brand from $ 20 to $ 50. Here’s a complete guide on how to buy a hookah, after which you will know exactly what to look for.

What I can tell you for sure, not just as a beginner but as an experienced smoker is to buy some of the Khalil Mamoon Hookahs. Ok, but now the question arises why exactly that brand?

Wondering why KM is the best hookah for beginners?

Actually, there are a few reasons. Let me explain.

  • This water pipe is a traditional Egyptian handmade hookah, designed to give you a traditional smoking experience.
  • Khalil Mamoon is made of high-quality materials such as stainless steel, brass, and a hand-blown glass base. This brand will save you money in the long run. If you buy some of the Khalili Mamoon hookahs, you will not have to buy another one soon, and you will have a fantastic smoking experience.
  • You can get your first nargile at a really fair price, for $ 100 or less you can get the original handmade Egyptian hookah.
  • Smoking from KM is really a privilege, this artistic piece will delight everyone, so when you do not smoke, you can hold it as a beautiful decoration for your room, living room, or any other place.

This is a great choice for hookah for beginners, but if you want to choose on your own, check out our article about the 25+ best hookah brands, you will definitely find something for you.

Hookah Tips and Tricks For Beginners

woman making smoking Bubbles
Don’t worry, our beginner’s hookah guide will cover some of the tips and tricks that you can easily implement when you’re starting out.

  1.  Take the flavors of apple, grape, lemon, watermelon, mint, have fun making your own mix of flavors.
  2.  Hold your shisha in the refrigerator to keep the smell and flavor.
  3. Add ice cubes into the water base, this will give cooler smoke.
  4. Instead of water, you can use some other liquid. Read more about that and much more in our article about 20 hookah water substitutes and recipes.
  5.  Cut out the apple, orange, or pineapple, take out the middle of the inside and leave the bark, drill the bottom side of the fruit and you will get a fruit hookah bowl.
  6. When utilizing an aluminum foil, poke smaller but as many holes as you can to allow slow-burning of coals and shisha.
  7.  If you use water, be sure to change it after each smoking session. Water is used to filter the smoke so you don’t want to stand long at the base.
  8.  Set your hookah well, use natural coals, and good hookah tobacco. The combination of this will give you a thick smoke.
  9.  Get an ice hose such as Mystique or Mya freeze. Combined with ice in the base will give you extra freeze smoke.
  10. Want to make smoke rings? Every hookah smoker likes that. Lucky for you it’s not that hard, all you need to do is to make a circle with your mouth and move the jaw up and down, it requires some skills and practice to hold the smoke and control over the jaw.
  11. Another fun with smoke is to make smoking bubbles. As with smoking rings, you need a little exercise, but at the end of the day, you will make a smoke bubble from the foam.


That’s all, I think I’ve covered everything that a beginner should know about hookah. After this article, you should know the basic things, such as what is hookah, what is hookah made of, types, sizes, etc. If you need more advice or you want to hear something from hookah experts, join our Facebook group, there I’ll share tips, tricks, and all the latest things from the hookah world. so feel free to join. I hope you enjoy reading my guide, if you have any questions or whatever you are interested in write in a comment section or use the contact form, I would love to hear from you. Until the next time, piece out.

1 Comment
  1. It’s great that you talked about hookahs and how they work. Recently, my wife and I decided we’d like to buy a shisha or a hookah to smoke flavored tobacco. We want to find the right hookah for us, so we’ll carefully read your article’s description. Thanks for the advice on how glass hookahs are easy to clean.

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