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Antique Hookah Won't Smoke (What did I miss?)

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I recently purchased what I am told is an antique Quatari Hookah off craigslist. I am unfamiliar with this hookah design. I can't get it to smoke at all and am hoping someone can help. I don't detect any air leaks. Here's what I tried:

I removed the cap with the stars, took off the tray with the hole in the middle, packed about 15g of shisha over the holes in the bottom of the metal bowl, put the tray back on, covered the metal bowl and the tray with aluminum foil, and applied the cooked coals. Despite the bowl getting quite hot, I never got any smoke. Inalso tried removing the tray, and it had no impact. What am I missing?

My theories are:

1) I am missing some sort of additional bowl attachment that is supposed to go in the hole in the tray, and because I don't have it the 2.5 inch gap between the foil and shisha is too big to allow proper heating/smoke?

2) I need to use way more shisha to get it close to the coals?

3) There is an leak I'm missing?

4) The old hoses are somehow defective and causing problems?


Thoughts? I really appreciate any advice anyone can provide. 






Edited by Hakeemvince

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First of all, make sure that there are no leaks. To do this, seal the palm of your hand onto the bowl, and try to draw through the hose. You should not get any air at all, even a little. If air is getting in, then you need to find the leak. Take off the hose and try blocking the far end of the hose with a finger and draw on the mouthpiece. If you get any air, you have a leak. See if the mouthpiece or handpiece are removable. If so, maybe the seal is bad. Anyway, keep your antique hose for display, but get a modern hose for smoking. If the old hose checks out good, then try sucking in on the ferrule, the part where the hose fits into, with your hand sealing the top of the bowl. Does it still leak? Remove the bowl and seal the top end of the tube and try again. Still leaks? Maybe the tube doesn't seal well to be base. Or the tube is in more than one part, screwed together, and they are not properly sealed.

Okay, so let's say you have no leaks or you have fixed all leaks, and you get good air flow through the hookah. Oh wait... DO YOU get good air flow? Maybe you should use a bowl with bigger holes in the bottom. Maybe the tube is clogged up with years of built up crud. Maybe you are filling the base too full with water. Maybe the hose is crimped or coming apart inside. Anyway do what you must to get good flow through the hookah.

One common mistake is to pack the bowl too tightly. The mu'assel or shisha or whatever you call the smoking mixture where you are from, should be filled loosely into the bowl and tamped down lightly. Air must pass freely through it. Poke plenty of holes in your foil. Try without the screen and without the cap. Make sure that the foil is sealed well to the bowl.

What kind of coals are you using?

The top of the shisha should be about 1/4 inch below the foil. The foil may sag down slightly from the weight of the coals but that is okay as long as the foil is not actually touching the shisha.

That bowl looks like maybe it was not meant for smoking shisha? I am looking at how small the holes are and how close together they are. I think you ought to try a different bowl. You can get them online for around $6. And are you sure that this is an actual hookah meant for smoking, and not just a display item of some sort?

I notice your hookah is standing on a nice carpet. Sooner or later you will knock a coal off and burn a mark in that nice carpet.

If it is truly an antique then very likely it was not made to use silicone rubber grommets. You will need to wind white adhesive/bandage cloth tape until the thickness is right, then seat the part tightly so it makes a good seal. In the old days they used wet cloth or leather. Or you can try adding modern silicone grommets.

Your coals should preferably be out at the edge of the bowl and not in the center. Most smokers do not like the quick lighting round tablets. Natural lemon wood charcoal is considered the best but the compressed coconut charcoal cubes are good, too. Let them burn long enough to have a coating of ash before you begin smoking. They will be difficult to light. Usually we use a gas or electric cooking burner or a fire can or a propane torch such as what plumbers use, to light them.

So to recap,

1. make sure that there are no leaks. If there are, isolate and fix them.

2. Make sure you have good airflow through the hookah and if not, fix that.

3. make sure tht your bowl is packed loosely and to the correct level.

4. use decent coals, lined up around the edge of the bowl top

5. replace any part that does not seem to be doing what it is supposed to do.

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