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How to Pack a Vortex Bowl

Authored by William on 11 August 2010 25,523 views No Comment

vortex bowl

The Vortex Bowl from Sahara Smoke is one of only a few very popular specialty bowls. While it has a few drawbacks, one of its major selling points is that it’s among the easiest to pack. In this short tutorial I’m going to show you how to pack your Vortex bowl and get an excellent smoke, no matter what kind of shisha tobacco you fill it with. So, lets get started.

Mix Your Shisha

The Vortex Bowl shines the most when using a wet shisha (though brands that are more dry will work great as well). The juices will get trapped in the mote around the spire and help the bowl to smoke longer. If your tobacco has been sitting for any extended period of time, the juices have likely drained to the bottom of the container. In order to get the best smoke from your Vortex bowl, mix up your shisha well with a fork first. This will help distribute the juices as well as break up and clumps of tobacco.

Fill Your Bowl & Protect the Holes

Packing your Vortex bowl isn’t much different from packing any other kind of bowl. A detailed guide to general bowl packing can be found here.

You’re going to sprinkle the shisha you previously mixed up in the bowl. Let it fall loosely all around the spire so that the tobacco rises just up to the holes. If there are pieces or clumps of tobacco that rise above the holes or above the spire, gently pat them down, remove them, or dump the shisha into a bowl, break it up with your fingers and sprinkle it back in. Just don’t pack it down and don’t leave it there.

Packing vortex bowl with shisha

clearing holes in vortex bowl with tooth pick

Once the tobacco has been sprinkled in the bowl, it should be “fluffy”. In other words, it shouldn’t be forced down at all. It should be resting on its own weight in the bottom of the bowl. Since the shisha is coming up just to, or just beyond, the holes in the spire, there is a chance that the tobacco may become clogged in one of the holes which will restrict your draw. You don’t want that. So, with a tooth pick, gently move any tobacco that may be creating an obstruction away from the holes. But remember, don’t pack it down.

Sealing with Tin Foil

The tin foil can be tricky, but getting it 100% right is not as necessary with the Vortex bowl as it is with other specialty bowls. So, take a deep sigh of relief.

You’ll most likely want to use heavy duty tin foil, two sheets of standard tin foil, or four sheets of light weight foil. Portion your foil out so that it is roughly a 6 inch square. Place the foil on top of the bowl. Don’t worry about which side is up or down. Some people say it matters, for the life of me and everyone I know, I’ve never noticed any kind of difference.

placing tin foil on vortex bowl

sealing vortex bowl with tin foil

Pull the tin foil down over two edges tightly. Hold those edges with two fingers on the same hand, then with the other hand, pull the tin foil down, creasing the shape of the bowl into the foil. Now relax. Using one hand to hold the foil in place, and the other to tighten the foil, begin to pull the foil down and tighten it around the bottom of the bowl so that the top is smooth. Do this slowly and gently so that any wrinkles that form around the edges can be smoothed out. When you’re satisfied, squeeze the foil around the bottom of the bowl and pull down to seal the foil.

If there are some wrinkles left over, don’t sweat it. It will still smoke great.

Poke Some Holes

There are lots of different hole patters that can be used. Get creative and try different things. But if you’re not the creative type, here is a sample hole pattern that has worked flawlessly for me.

vortex bowl hole pattern

Coal Quantity & Placement

Again, there are more than a few ways to accomplish the same task. The position and quantity of your coals will depend on a number of variables. If you’ve followed this guide and used the sample hole pattern, these suggestion will likely work perfectly.

If you’re using 40mm quick light coals, you’ll want to break two of them in half and use three halves around the outside edge of the bowl. If you’re using natural coals, you’ll want to use three coals, also placed around the outside edge of the bowl. If at any point the bowl becomes harsh, remove one of the coals or slide them farther toward, or slightly off, the edge.

quick light coals on a vortex bowl

natural coals on a vortex bowl

For the sake of demonstration, the coals in the above images have not been lit. Never smoke using a coal that has not fully ashed over. It may give you a headache, or worse, make you sick.

In Conclusion

This guide acts as a starting point. While you may find that you’ve gotten the best smoke of our life using this guide, you’ll probably think of creative ways to improve upon what I’ve said. I’d encourage you to get creative and try new things. And when you do, why not share it with the world by joining one of the online hookah communities!

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