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How to pack the perfect funnel bowl

June 15, 2020

Image of Shisha Works ceramic funnel bowls

Funnel bowls (also known as phunnel bowls) are one of the most popular types of hookah bowl. They are a great choice when smoking wetter shisha tobacco brands like Tabaku  Tangiers or Al-Fakher. The unique funnel bowl design features a raised draw hole in the centre of the doughnut-shaped bowl, which in theory prevents excess molasses from dripping down the stem. In practice, most shisha smokers don't know how to correctly pack a funnel bowl and therefore never experience its primary benefit. We've taught you how to pack a traditional shisha bowl using only household kitchen utensils, but now it's time to point out the differences when packing a phunnel bowl.

Preparing your shisha tobacco for a funnel bowl is no different than for a traditional hookah bowl, so we won't spend too much of your time covering old ground. In essence, you always want to cut your shisha mix to a consistent length and absorb up any excess molasses or glycerine so the shisha isn't soaking wet. Also, it's a good idea to give your shisha mix a toss with a fork to minimise chunks of tobacco sticking together and not burning at an even rate.

When it comes time to pack a phunnel bowl, what is the correct height for your mix? On most funnel bowls the outer lip will be higher than the top of the centre stump, but occasionally they will be at the same height. Either way, you don't want to pack your shisha tobacco higher than the top of centre stump, and maybe a few millimetres lower for starters before you find your preferred draw. This lower height means that there will likely be a gap between the foil and the top of your mix, but more on that later. You can afford to load your shisha mix a little tighter than a traditional hookah bowl since the drawn air doesn't have to flow directly through the mix (it actually circulates around the phunnel bowl). As a result, the draw hole won't get blocked, unless of course you don't follow our tips and pack your mix too high!

Funnel bowls can be used effectively with heat screens and chimney sets, but we prefer to go old-school by using foil. As a general rule for all hookah bowls, foil holes and charcoal only need to be directly above the shisha mix, and equally placed above all the mix in the bowl. This rule isn't so obvious with traditional bowls where the shisha mix fills the entire bowl, but with funnel bowls you don't want hot coals or holes in the foil directly above the draw hole in the centre of the bowl. Aside from the quantity of holes you poke in the foil, the gap between the foil and the top of your mix also controls how easy or difficult it is to draw smoke through the hookah pipe. If there is little to no gap between the foil and the draw hole in the centre of the phunnel bowl, and providing that no holes have been poked through that section of foil, when you draw in a partial vacuum will be created in the bowl which can result in some intense flavour hits! Be sure to give this setup a try at some stage.

Just on the placement of the coals again, you don't need to waste extra charcoal on the centre of the bowl – just focus on the outer ring directly above the shisha mix. Always use premium charcoal made from coconut shells for a consistent burn with no noticeable odours or flavours. Now that we've covered off the theoretical side, it's time for you to enjoy the practical side by smoking a perfectly packed funnel bowl. If you don't already own one, we have a few different funnel bowls and phunnel bowls to choose from.

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