Bowl is ready to go, grab a hookah. There are a few different things to check when preparing a pipe. Make sure there is water in the base and that the water goes a centimeter to inch or so over the bottom of the stem. Too high, and the pull is going to suffer and it’s possible to pull water into the hose, and that is sick and wrong and all sorts of bad. Not enough water? Smoke isn’t going to get cooled and it’s going to taste harsh and feel hot. Make sure the stem is solidly attached to the base. You should be able to lift up the hookah by the stem and have the base come with it. Don’t carry it like this, for the obvious reasons, but in a perfect world you would be able too. Hookah alignment should be straight. A leaning tower of hookah is not only unpleasing to the eye, but also potentially hazardous as coals and even whole bowls can and have fallen off. Inspect the pipe for grommet; one on the top,  and one for the hose. Did you grab a hose? You’re going to need that too.

Time to start this puppy! Toss that bowl on the top of the hookah. Well, don’t literally toss it. You know what I mean. Push it on their gently but firmly. Same as the stem, you want the bowl on their tight so it’s not going to lean or fall over, and straight for the same reasons. Stick the hose in the hose port. Make sure it’s not going to fall out as well. If need be, use a rubber band  around the purge valve; that should help keep it in place.

Put some coals on the top. Wait, you don’t have any coals ready? Technically, that would be step 1 in this entire process. Start coals. A seasoned hookah vet can probably pack a few bowls during the time it takes to get coals ready.

Coals are ready. So let’s throw ‘em on up on that there bowl there. Typically we use 2 coals to start a small Egyptian or mya bowl and 3 for a large Egyption or Phunnel. Bowls of straight Nahkla can take more heat so using 3 on a smaller bowl and even 4 on a larger one might be a good idea. Some people like to enjoy them a little hot too. When we load up our in house Dub App hookah, it usually gets 4. The number of coals is meaningless really, what’s important is that we get enough heat to get her started without charring the shisha. This might mean one full coal or 6 little guys.

Couple tips you should keep in mind: coals fresh from a burner work best for starting hookahs, so always try to use them. They are the hottestr and you need that heat to get her rolling. They are also the largest so once started the bowl is hopefully going to be tend free for a while. Another way to get a bowl started faster is to use the ingenious invention of a wind cover. While designed for smoking outside, they work great indoors as well. They assist in heating up the entire bowl to really get it ripping, and I guesstimate it cuts start time in half. Get one! Fially, before you use your hookah, always check the purge valve. Blow gently into the hose…that little valve opposite where the hose is plugged in should be allowing air to pass through. There is a ball bearing inside of it that allows for suction when inhaling and expulsion when blowing. Make sure it’s working right as they can get stuck and sometimes aren’t there at all. If its stuck you could “volcano” or blow water up the stem into and out of the top of the bowl, rendering it completely un-usble.  A stuck purge valve is also going to be hotter and more likely to scorch your bowl. If there is no ball bearing in it, you will have problems obtaining a quality evaporate.

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