Heat is a property that drives the world. It produces energy for electricity, it heats our homes, and it keeps our planet from freezing over. Just like heat in the environment, heat in the world of hookah must be balanced.

In traditional preparation, tobacco is combusted at relatively high temperatures. When you add lots of heat sensitive ingredients like molasses, honey, and glycerin, you get a type of tobacco mixture that needs care to be enjoyed properly. Often, an optimum bowl temperature ranges between 300 and 375 degrees fahrenheit. If you get much hotter, your tobacco will begin to burn and scorch in a way to produces harsh and unpleasant smoke.

So how does one master heat management? For one, it takes a lot of patience. Your senses of taste and smell will also help you with this skill. How can one make a difference though? Preparation is a key factor to any hookah bowl. Not only will a good packing method help to create a tasty long lasting bowl, but will prevent icky sickly sensations.

The coals you use should apply not only to personal tastes, but also to function. Some coals are cubes, some are flat, and some are in between. There are a lot of shapes out there, but more importantly, the size of the coal usually relates to how much heat they put out. Personally, I am using either a vortex with foil, or a Samsaris and Lotus together, so either way I do not need a lot of heat. Two coals will be plenty for most applications, but as I have stated before, patience is key, especially when using two coals. I usually am using Ecocha coals. They are made with only three ingredients, including water, starch, and coconut, and are all organic. There are a lot of similar coals out there though, including titanium, haze, and coconara, but none of these have had the quality control that Ecocha has had in my experience.

Packing method plays a large role in heat management as well. Some shisha tobacco prefers a fluffy pack, while other prefer a dense pack; the only ways to know for sure are to experiment, and also refer to what works for others. Since I am using Hookah-Freak tobacco in this example, I used a medium-dense pack, on the fluffier side. I also was sure to leave space around the middle for the intake holes, since I was using a vortex. Touching the tobacco to the foil is a preferred method by some, but I find that it causes the tobacco to scorch, when it is totally not needed or wanted. At the same time, you do not want too large of a gap between the coals and tobacco, or it will not heat enough.

From here, your best friend is patience and observation. After setting the coals on for 5-7 minutes, you should move them to a different spot on the foil. This will allow the bowl to heat evenly, and you will not have to puff on it constantly to get it started. After 10 minutes have elapsed, it is time to go ahead and take your first puff. From here, you should have a great flavor and awesome huge clouds. As with any method, patience, observation, and more patience are the keys to making any setup taste and smoke great. If you are having problems with heat management, do not lose faith; instead reach out to the hookah community. There are plenty of people who are very enthusiastic about shisha and will help in any way they can!