How To: Foil A Phunnel Bowl
The phunnel bowl is a creation of Eric Hofmann of Tangiers Tobacco. Bowls with this design are intended to keep the liquids in shisha from running down the stem of the hookah, and to cook the tobacco as evenly as possible. The structure consists of a small cup shape with a cylindrical tube coming up from the bottom of the bowl, stopping just short of the cusp of the bowl. Since the middle spire stops just short of the ridge of the bowl, getting foil as tight as possible is paramount. If you place foil on top of a phunnel bowl and the foil isn’t tight, the foil will sag and cover the spire. Covering the spire will stop all air flow and create what is known as “air-lock”.
Hold Up, Wait a minute, let me put some pimpin’ in it
Before I waste anyone’s time, check to see if the center spire is the appropriate height. The spire SHOULD NOT be exactly level with the crown of the bowl. To check this, stand the bowl up on a level surface. Then, stack two quarters on top of the spire. Bend down and look at the bowl with your eye line level with the crown of the bowl. If you can still see any part of the quarters, the level of the spire is too high. You need to shave down the spire with a Dremmel tool, or an ass load of elbow grease and sand paper. I bought a nice Dremmel tool for $52 plus $8 for shipping from Amazon.com. I love it and use it all the time now.
Back on Track
There are a couple ways to prevent air lock when using a phunnel / funnel bowl.The first way to prevent air-lock is to devise a good foiling technique. I have found that a piece of foil that is 6-8in long and 6in wide is the ideal size to work with. Another way to combat air-lock is to poke holes in the foil over the spire. If you employ both of my methods, I can assure you that you will have a successful smeesh.
Man Your Battle Station
If you try to stretch the foil tight without poking holes, the downward force of your poker is going to stretch and loosen the foil. If this doesn’t produce air-lock, it will create drag while smoking. The first step to getting tight foil is putting the foil on loose and then poke a desired hole pattern.
Don’t forget to poke a few holes around the rim and center of the spire.
Now, put your delicate hands on. At this point, you want to pull the foil tight and re-foil the bowl. While placing the foil, keep in mind the shape of cupcake liners. The cupcakes liners are flat pieces of paper that have been crimped to make a cup shape. You want to replicate that crimped style in order to get your flat piece of foil to fit over the bowl.
With your less dominant hand, create a letter “C” with the thumb and forefinger. Then place that “C” on top of the foil holding the foil in place. With your dominant hand, pinch the foil that is on the opposite side of the bowl between your thumb and forefinger and pull away from the center of the bowl. Once the foil is tight, fold it down and under the bowl. Turn the bowl about 30 degrees and repeat the pull and press process until the face of the bowl is cover in foil that is drum tight. If there are some wrinkles or places around the rim of the bowl that aren’t perfect, loosen the foil just a bit and re-pleat the area of concern. Then pull the excess foil down the neck.
Once the face of the bowl has a tight foil “skin”, smooth out the foil that is under the bowl and around the neck. When you are doing this, always press down towards the neck of the bowl. If you try to flatten out the excess foil by pushing towards the “face” of the bowl you will loosen that drum tight foil and you have to start all over.
After You Are Done
Once you have done all of these steps, you can check to see if you did the job correctly. Press your lips up to the bottom of the bowl as if you are going to play it like a trumpet. Quickly and lightly puff in and out. If you hear the foil flapping in the wind, the foil is not as tight as it should be.
Remember to keep your coals near the outer rim of the bowl. This is not only the best way to distribute heat throughout the bowl but it is a way to ensure that the foil won’t sag.