A lot of shisha lovers are unaware of the importance of properly preparing for a shisha session. How you pack your hookah bowl plays a big part in the quality and longevity of a session, and loading a bowl should never be rushed. So that you can enjoy the best experience when smoking shisha, we’re going to take you through the process of packing a hookah bowl, in just 4 easy steps.
What you’ll need:
- Quality shisha teabacco (like Heaven Leaf teabacco) or mu’assel (shisha tobacco)
- Chopping board
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Absorbent paper towel
- Hookah bowl
Step 1: Chop the shisha leaves to a uniform size
Shisha tobacco comes in all shapes and sizes out of the pack, so if you want a consistent smoke it’s crucial to start with a consistent mix; and that means performing a little pre-session pruning. Firstly, spread about a handful of shisha leaves on top of your chopping board. Using a sharp kitchen knife, chop the leaves down to about 1 – 2 cm strips, making sure that the length of the strips is as uniform as possible. A finer cut presents a greater surface area of tobacco / teabacco to the hot air, and is easier to manage when loading the shisha mix into a bowl. Don’t try to take shortcuts using scissors or a coffee grinder; the length of the leaves will be inconsistent and/or too fine to properly smoke.
Step 2: Dry the shisha mix
After you’re happy with the cut, place the shisha mix on one half of a sheet of absorbent paper towel, fold the other half over the top and gently press down a few times to soak up the excess molasses and glycerine out of the leaves. This will help get the heat into the mix quickly as well as preventing “hot spots” from building up. Be careful not to dry out the mix too much though, as this will result in a hotter, and harsher session.
Step 3: Prepare the shisha mix
Using a fork, spread your shisha mix out on the chopping board so that it is sitting fairly flat. Separate the leaves and toss/roll the mix with the fork so that there are no big chunks stuck together. Make sure to mop up any excess molasses and glycerine from the chopping board and continue to flatten and roll the mix until it is fluffy and aerated. You’re now ready to load your shisha bowl.
Step 4: Pack the hookah bowl
There’s nothing worse than starting a shisha session to find that the hookah is impossible to draw smoke from, or that the smoke is so hot and harsh that it isn’t enjoyable. Incorrectly packing the bowl will result in one of these undesirable shisha experiences. To allow proper air circulation and an even burn, you don’t want to pack your bowl too tightly. Using your fingers or a fork, gradually fill the hookah bowl up to the fill line (most bowls will have a fill line on their inside). Then sprinkle a little bit more shisha mix on top so that it will be gently touching the underside of the foil or screen, but not squashed down. This technique also works if you have a chimney set or heat management systems like the Lotus and Razor; just make sure you get the fill height correct so that the mix isn’t compacted (which restricts air flow). Ensure that there are no stray shisha strands on the rim or inner ledge of the bowl, as these will prevent an airtight seal.
So there you have it – 4 simple steps to packing the perfect bowl of shisha tobacco (or teabacco) using only household kitchen utensils.