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Woodsytheowl

My Take On Answering A Lot Of Frequently Asked Questions

Side note: I wrote this for someone who had some questions and figured someone else might find it helpful in some way. All of the claims made are of course my personal opinion so try not to get too worked up.
 
Hookahs in general are about 1/4 of the performance of what you're getting when you have a session. When people have great sessions or poor sessions, it most likely is due to bowl type/tobacco choice/packing style/heat management. The main concern with the hookah in general is just making sure that it is completely airtight. General overview of hookah origins/performance:
 
Pipes
 
MYA (Chinese) - MYA is probably the only Chinese hookah brand that has established a solid following. When you go to a local smoke shop and see elaborate hookahs with acrylic and other crap on the stem, chances are they are Chinese junk. Chinese hookahs in general are usually frowned upon since they have a reputation for shitty craftsmanship (poor welding, cheap metals). Aside from that, people usually do not care for them since they are more "modern" and have less of the traditional feel (i.e. chinese hookahs are made by machines where as other hookahs are usually handmade). That being said, I actually own a small MYA due to their solid construction for travel and convenience. I can easily take my MYA somewhere without worrying about it breaking. MYAs are seriously awesome as small hookahs and I would definitely recommend them for travel. I would not necessarily use it as my main setup as I prefer the draw of hookahs from other origins. 
 
Khalil Mamoon/Farida/Temsaah (Egyptian) - The first hookah I ever bought was a Khalil Mamoon. I can not recommend them enough- they are seriously tanks. The most solid hookahs you can buy are the handmade brass pipes from the brands mentioned above. If I did not already have four hookahs then I would probably buy a Farida. The only reason why I don't keep an Egyptian in my rotation is that they tend to have pretty wide draws and can be a hassle to clean due to their size. This fact alone is what makes the hookah origin personal preference aside from the aesthetics. In general, Egyptians will give you a smooth pull without any restriction of airflow. Because of this, they are loud as shit when you take a pull. The gauge on Egyptians is seriously wide and you will definitely notice the difference when it bubbles in the vase. The only concern with Egyptian pipes is that because they are handmade, they can have some flaws in craftsmanship.
 
Nour/Nawras (Syrian) - I only know a couple retailers that currently sell quality Syrian pipes right now and they are charging a huge premium for them. They are much more rare now that we haven't been importing them due to all of the shit that has been going down recently. The other thing that makes it confusing is that "Nour" does not represent a brand but rather the name of the distributor. In turn, some Nours are absolute shit. The only consistency I have found in quality Syrian pipes is the Nawras brand. I have two Nawras pipes and they are seriously sweet. The designs on the shank are much more intricate and the narrow gauge offers some restriction to the pulls (similar to MYA). Like I said before, this is my personal preference but I do like the feeling of the actual pull.
 
Elmas (Turkish) - I have only bought one Turkish pipe in the past and it was about 8 pounds of solid brass. The are handmade wonderfully but are not really practical for everyday use. I ended up selling mine last year due to the hassle of setting up such a heavy pipe.
 
Regal Hookah (American) - Regal is the only manufacturer in America that I am aware of and they are handmade in Colorado. I actually have a Regal for the novelty but they are expensive as hell. The wood stems themselves are made from either pine or redwood that has been collected locally in Colorado. They have wide gauges similar to Egyptians and are pretty neat pipes overall.
 
Okay, brief overview of the stuff that really matters:
 
Bowls
 
Bowls are a huge aspect of hookah. Bowls determine how much value you're getting out the shisha you are buying and whether or not you are meeting the full potential of your hookah. Eric (Tangiers) developed the first phunnel bowl back in 2009 and there have been knockoffs ever since. Recently, there has been a huge surge in Chinese phunnels that are made of inferior materials that make heat management and longevity more difficult (these are the bowls you'll find at local smoke shops). When getting a phunnel, it is probably unnecessary to get any size bowl that holds over 35g of tobacco. A well-packed bowl of that size should last you between an hour to two hours. It sounds like you're able to get long sessions out of your alien so that's good! If you ever decide to get a Tangiers Phunnel, NEVER get one that is bigger than a small. The Tangier's medium and large bowls are ridiculously big and you will end up wasting tobacco using them. Theoretically, the larger bowls go longer than 3 hours and can last up to 6 hours. If you can smoke bowls that large then you either: A. Have a smoking problem, or B. Have more hair on your chest than I do. To sum up everything, I would suggest eventually getting a small tangiers bowl when you have the money. They are an awesome investment and will ultimately be the best bowls to learn how to pack. Even if there are minimal differences (several people find the alien meets their needs), I will always be biased as the Tangiers phunnel was the original and seems to have the best quality control on it's specifications.
 
Tobacco
 
There are an insane amount of brands but you got the gist of the primary difference: washed and unwashed. I have been an avid tangiers smoker for several years now. Tangiers does not use artificial dyes in the tobacco and uses tobacco that is grown with the states. You also appear to know the differences between the lines so I won't get too far into that. I know that Eric is phasing out his Lucid line (washed tobacco) into Birquq. I have had several flavors in Birquq and think that they are just not for me. I really didn't care for the switch over to new tobacco blend and the different tenants to smoking Birquq (supposedly requires less heat which makes heat management much more difficult with my method). I saw that you were interested in F-Line so I will just mention briefly that it's definitely an experience worth having. You can feel the buzz of the caffeine but drinking alcohol while smoking it can be some crazy shit. Tangiers Noir is always going to be the least expensive and is the most traditional. I love the noir line and would choose to smoke it over anything else if it were more affordable.
 
I had recently switched over to Nakhla due to it being about $3 cheaper per 250g. This shit adds up when you smoke a bowl daily. However, Nakhla Mizo is pretty good stuff as it is a mix of the traditional line with some of the new standards of hookah tobacco (more glycerin, juicier tobacco, thicker cut). If you are ever considering looking at alternative brands, I would recommend Nakhla Mizo as it is one of the oldest brands imported from Egypt (for good reason). The original line of Nakhla is extremely dry but it is unwashed. The setbacks to Nakhla is that they still use dye in their tobaccos to give them color to reflect the flavor (Mizo Raspberry is unnaturally red). This is important as dye can sometimes give people headaches if smoked excessively. The only other thing worth mentioning is that you might want to try not to buy into the novelty flavors of "premium" shisha. A lot of what you will see is pretty good marketing of heavily dyed washed tobacco. Once you smoke the old school lines of Nakhla and the new take from Tangiers, you'll start to realize how candy-like the newer brands are. I'm not sure if this is an opinion you adopt after awhile but you will eventually see that hookah is more and more being marketed towards the younger crowd that emphasizes the bubblegum-like flavors.
 
Coals
 
Alright, I'm getting a little tired so I will probably make this short. Natural coals make a huge difference as they last much longer and do not have additives in them that are probably fucking up your lungs. In addition, they give you the cleanest smoke and you will not taste them in a session. I use a single coal burner from Walgreens to light them as they typically reek and I'm sure my wife would be pissed if I lit coals in the kitchen. The burner is great since they are cheap (~$13) and allow you to light your coals in garage. One of the primary complaints that I have heard about naturals is that they do take much longer to light. Because of this, I usually start the coals first before prepping the rest of the hookah. It typically takes me the same amount of time to load the hookah as it does to light the coals so there really is no waiting. I have tried numerous naturals and found CocoNaras to be the best value and great charcoals overall.
 
Accessories
 
Two accessories that I feel are necessary at some point:
 
Wind cover - Getting a good wind cover will extend the life of your coals and help tremendously if you smoke outside. Make sure to get an extra large wind cover as the smaller/traditional wind covers will not fit a phunnel bowl properly.
 
Diffusor - I'm not sure if you ever smoke inside but I always use a diffusor. Although it is not too important, it definitely helps as it minimizes the sound of the water when taking a pull. These are especially useful if you watch movies/tv while smoking.

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This needs to be pinned. One of the most helpful things I have ever seen written on here.

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i agree, this is a great basic info break down, this should be pinned +1 :)

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Just a note, Tangiers funnels have been around since at LEAST 2006. Possibly earlier.

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I agree with most of this but I believe a hookah has a certain "pull" that will help dictate how a bowl is packed. Therefore leading top how it smokes and how hear management will follow. Other than that this is great.

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I agree with most of this but I believe a hookah has a certain "pull" that will help dictate how a bowl is packed. Therefore leading top how it smokes and how hear management will follow. Other than that this is great.

 

i dont think the hookahs pull depends on how you pack it. you should pack the bowl the same way you would on any hookah. depending on the bowl and tobacco, but each hookah smokes.  so if u pack say tangiers, in a small phunnel its the same if u smoke it on a mya or syrian or egyptian or even a elmas. heat managment will really be the only big change.

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I agree with the comments above but, I use a large phunnel 99.9% of the time which is probably different from the "norm". When I smoke it's usually because I have very rare free time, so I smoke for 6+ hours. Has been that way for years, for me at least.

Good info nonetheless, good job Jon. I agree with the sticky\pinned suggestions. 

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Pull depends greatly on packing. Every packed a bowl too tightly and had nothing happen? 

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Thanks for the positive feedback guys. I am really surprised that the phunnel is that old. I honestly thought that the tangiers phunnel did not hit the online market until 2008-09 (I should have specified that). If you guys see any other information that is inaccurate then please let me know.

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Yep, this is getting pinned. Excellent write-up, Jon!

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Im late to the party cause Ive been AFK for a couple days! Very nice and informative post! Hope people actually bother reading/checking the forums tho :D

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Pull depends greatly on packing. Every packed a bowl too tightly and had nothing happen? 

 

You are thinking about it backwards.The idea is that packing should be dictated by the pull of the hookah.

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jess, you are thinking backwards, hass is thinking forwards. 

 

and if you smoke with different types and bowls and just pack them all the same you will get totally different results if you smoke on the same pipe.

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I agree with most of this but I believe a hookah has a certain "pull" that will help dictate how a bowl is packed. Therefore leading top how it smokes and how hear management will follow. Other than that this is great.

 

i dont think the hookahs pull depends on how you pack it. you should pack the bowl the same way you would on any hookah. depending on the bowl and tobacco, but each hookah smokes.  so if u pack say tangiers, in a small phunnel its the same if u smoke it on a mya or syrian or egyptian or even a elmas. heat managment will really be the only big change.

 

Pull depends greatly on packing. Every packed a bowl too tightly and had nothing happen? 

 

jess, you are thinking backwards, hass is thinking forwards. 

 

and if you smoke with different types and bowls and just pack them all the same you will get totally different results if you smoke on the same pipe.

 

Read dizzbizz's comment again, I think you both just totally overlooked what he is actually trying to say.

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i just realized i did, but still my point is pretty dead on. like you jess

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