Hookah Myths, Part 1: Bigger Hookah, Better Smoke
- Hookah Myths, Part 1: Bigger Hookah, Better Smoke
It’s a popular misconception that a bigger hookah means bigger and better smoke. But this is untrue. Let’s look at the facts.
Larger Hookahs Often Have Traditional Chambers
Larger hookahs have a number of great advantages, but also their fair share of drawbacks.
Bigger hookahs, hookahs larger than about 30”, are usually made in the Middle East according to many traditional standards. For example, larger hookahs frequently employ what’s called a ‘traditional chamber’. This is a reference to the inner-workings of the hookah. The chamber, where the smoke passes from the base to hose port or the purge valve can either be a ‘common chamber’ or a ‘traditional chamber’.
In a hookah with a common chamber, the hose port and purge valve both empty directly into the chamber. Because of this design, purging becomes nearly impossible since air is not forced into the base where the bulk of your smoke is being stored. In a hookah with a traditional chamber, the hose port and purge valve run all the way to the mouth of the base. This makes purging realistic.
Traditional chambers are typical in larger hookahs, but not usually in smaller hookahs. Of course, the type of chamber does not affect the actual quality of the smoke, but should your smoke become harsh, you will want to purge the bad smoke and start fresh. Smaller hookahs usually don’t have this feature.
Larger Hookahs Often Use More Metal in Their Construction
The key to hookah smoke being as smooth as it is is partially found in the cooling the smoke goes through before entering your body. The water in the base, as well as the unique composition in the hookah tobacco both lend themselves to cooler, smoother smoke. But another important element is the metal construction of the hookah.
As the smoke travels down the stem of the hookah, the metal absorbs heat helping to cool the smoke before it even enters the water. Larger pipes usually use a greater amount of metal in their construction and therefore are able to absorb more heat. But, this is not universally true and some larger hookahs that use a minimal amount of metal in their construction will not generally outperform smaller, heavy hookahs.
Whether the hookah is larger or smaller has little effect on the actual quality of smoke and has no effect on the thickness of your clouds, or the richness of flavor. Those are determined by whether or not the hookah seals properly, the composition of the tobacco and the care taken in heat management.
Hookahs should be purchased based on their build quality (brands like Mya, Khalil Mamoon, Nour, Madgy Zidan and Temsaah are all generally considered quality brands) and aesthetic appeal. You should select a quality pipe that fits your lifestyle and visual taste and don’t worry too much about the size. After all, it’s not the size of the boat that matters, it’s the motion of the ocean. Happy smoking!