Where Do I Start?(some cheap and fun ways to upgrade your first set up)
We’ve all been there, whether we were introduced to hookah by a friend while hanging out or had a family member take us to a hookah lounge, we’ve all been hooked and setting up our first hookah with a little bit of hesitation.
(yup, this is where I started... cheap no name online double stem hookah with quicklights and cheap shisha.... but look how much fun I’m having!)
First off, if you have your first set up and you’re happy with it, and taking that new hookah out and enjoying a fresh bowl brings you joy... you don’t need to upgrade anything. The most important thing is that you are enjoying yourself! Don’t let anyone tell you differently. But if you are looking to try out some new tricks and small upgrades on the cheaper side to try and see what you like here are some ideas.
-$0-$5- Ice in the base/ chilled smoke: Best thing about this is it’s a free experiment that you can try without purchasing a single thing. Depending on the size of your hookah base you might be able to just use some ice cubes from the freezer, or you might need to underfill a tray to make sure the cubes are small enough to fit in the neck of your base. Pour a little bit of water into your base and then add a couple of ice cubes. This will chill your smoke a little more which can be a great feeling especially in hot weather (but it can lead to a little bit of a less flavorful smoke). Other options with similar effects are to smoke a mint flavor or flavor mixed with mint (great cool mouthfeel), or to place the base of your hookah in a cooler or bucket with some ice.
-$3-$20- New flavors and types of shisha: There are so many types, brands, and flavors of Shisha out there and you never know when you will find your favorite! There are a lot of articles and videos out there that go into the differences, review ideal packing methods, and review different brands... but you can also have fun experimenting with cheaper options. A lot of brands make smaller size packages around 50g so you can test a bunch yourself and if you don’t enjoy it you can move on to different flavors. Eventually you can have fun with mixing your own blends, but there are a lot of great mixes by companies like Zomo (their world line blends different flavors to great effect), or the lounge standard Al Fahker has some good fruity mint blends.
-$8-$20-Charcoal: Most of us start with quicklites. They are simple and easy, and honestly quicklites can be useful, especially while traveling or in areas where there is not a stove or charcoal heater available (camping, hiking, beach, or lake are all places that might benefit from some quicklites). Moving to a small charcoal burner (can pick up as cheap as $8-$15 at many department stores) and natural charcoal (which can be picked up at any good hookah retailer) can make a really big difference in the quality of your session. The first time you try natural coal is a very interesting experience, no gas/ chemical flavor or smell and they tend to last a little bit longer.
-$5-$45- New bowls. Just like shisha there are number of different manufacturers, materials, and bowl styles out there. Different bowls pair well with different types of shisha and packing methods. Some are shallow and hold less tobacco for shorter sessions, some have different shapes or hole placement to keep the juices in the base and prolong the flavor. Best of all is with the right grommet you can use that bowl with multiple hookahs and its an investment that you can continue to use even if you switch hookahs.
-$5-$50- New hose: A lot of hookahs come with a hose but there is a really wide variety of options for you to explore. It seems like the most popular option right now are medical or food grade silicone hoses that can be washes or rinsed out to keep your flavors from “ghosting” (having old flavors taint your current smoking experience). The handle and tips can be made from plastic, glass, metal, acrylic, or even wood. Some have chambers inside to place freezer cubes which will chill smoke but also need to be swapped mid session to stay cool.
-$1-$30- Mouthtips... buy them... use them.... friends don’t give friends colds or cooties. They have plenty of options going from disposable plastic to reusable silicone to fancy lanyard mounted mouthpieces in wood or resin that you can leave around your neck for convenience. It’s been fun sharing some information, and look forward to sharing some more with the community! as always, let me know what you think, how your experiences are, and what you’d like to see more of in the future! Smoke On!!! -Chris Cettina!