If you’re totally new to the world of hookahs, you should know that the device has been used for centuries and is still among the most coveted and popular smoking methods, especially regarding water pipes. Let’s say you’ve just bought one and don’t really know what to do with it. If that’s the case, the team from Smokey News is here to help you out.

First of all, how to set up a Hookah? What do they look like? As with other water pipes, hookahs filter the smoke through water, and in the case of hookahs, the filtering takes place at the vase or the base of the hookah, where the downstem is, sitting in a pool of water. 

Still, how to set up a hookah properly? How much water should you put in your hookah? That’s a good question. The truth is, you can’t just wing it with any amount of water and just start puffing away. As a matter of fact, the hookah water level plays a significant role in the overall smoking experience. 

How Much Water To Put in Your Hookah? 

Unfortunately, it’s not always obvious just how much water you should pour into your hookah. And to make matters worse, experienced hookah smokers often forget to educate new smokers about adequate hookah water levels. Their hookah base ends up relatively dry, leading to an unpleasant or less-than-satisfactory experience. 

Hopefully, this little guide will help you a great deal in taking good care of your hookah base and improving your hookah sessions. 

Why Do You Put Water in Your Hookah in the First Place? Hookah With a Glass Flask and a Metal Bowl Shisha With Colored Smoke on the Table on a Black Background With a Copy Space

To better understand adequate hookah levels and the notion of putting water in the device, we should refer to the hookah’s history to look for answers. 

Some experts claim that the hookah began its career back in India, during the Mughal Empire’s reign, in the 16th century.  

The Portuguese were expanding their trade networks at the time, and they were transporting a wide variety of goods across the globe. Brazilian tobacco was one of these goods, which made its way to India, and became a “hit” in the country.

The Brazilian tobacco also reached Emberor Ahkbar, who wanted to try out the exquisite gift. However, Abul-Faith Galani, his chief physician, was worried about the substance’s effects on the emperor’s health. As such, the doctor wanted to find a less harmful way for the emperor to enjoy those golden leaves. 

His ground-breaking idea was to use the hookah, a water pipe that filters the smoke through water before the user can inhale it. 

Now, we know that water isn’t really the best solution to filter out tobacco. Still, they’ve discovered that using water to filter out tobacco actually makes for a more pleasant and cooler smoking experience, leaving the user with more texture in tobacco taste and a more enjoyable experience overall. 

Can You Leave the Hookah Base Empty?

So, do you put water in a hookah or not? Better yet, can you leave the hookah base dry? Technically, you can, but why would you? It defeats the purpose of the device. 

The original idea of the hookah was to improve the taste of the smoke and make it smoother, with less of a burning sensation when inhaling it. 

On that end, if you want to leave your hookah base dry, you might be better off smoking a cigar or a cigarette. Setting up a hookah for proper use can take some time, and if you aren’t considering hookah water levels, you’re more or less just wasting your time. 

Again, How Much Water to Put in Your Hookah?  

According to experts, proper hookah water levels start when the water covers around one inch of the downstem. Depending on the base’s volume and the downstem’s size, the actual amount of water will vary. 

In the case of small or short devices, some users may get away with using just half an inch of water coverage. 

Still, submerging the downstem at least one inch in the hookah’s base will give an optimal smoking experience.  

What Happens When the Hookah Water Level Is Low? 

As said above, adequate water levels will be different in the case of every hookah, so you should be aware of the telltale signs when there’s too much or too little water in the base. 

When There’s Not Enough Water

When your hookah can handle more water, the smoking experience will be similar when you smoke the device without any water. The smoke you inhale gets hotter and harsher, sometimes even burning your throat.

At first, you might remedy the problem by rotating the coals to slow the burning of the shisha. Still, if this won’t fix the problem, you should check the water levels and add more of it to solve the issue. 

When there’s not enough water, some people will also notice that drawing from the pipe is much easier. This is because water usually acts as a buffer for the air that travels through. 

Too Much Water

Part of a Hookah in the Arabic Restaurant

When the hookah water levels are too high, you may notice that drawing from the device is even more challenging than it used to be. There’s more water, meaning there’s also more resistance, translating into less air reaching the hookah.

Another sign of too much water in the hookah’s system is when you get some water in the hose when you draw. Remember, this should never happen during a smoking session; if it does occur, it’s a clear sign that you should let some water out. 

Water may also get into the bowl, dampening the shisha and preventing it from burning. This will also be quite evident, as it will stop your smoking session right where it is. 

Understand How the Hookah Works

The whole point of the water in the device is to cool the smoke down. To increase the cooling properties of the water, you can also put some ice in the base together with the water. 

This will give the experience an even harder kick – the overall sensation will be cool, extra smooth, and very pleasant. On that end, you should also remember not to significantly raise water levels with added ice. Even with the cubes, you should only cover one-half or one inch of the downstem for the best experience. 

That said, if you want to learn more about how to smoke hookah like a pro, feel free to visit us at our store down in Fort Lauderdale. We’re your one-stop hookah shop: we can hook you up with all kinds of hookah gear, whether you’re a seasoned smoker or just getting started.