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What is a hookah?

A short Introduction on Hookahs:

Hookahs are oriental Waterpipes that are used to smoke flavored Tobacco which is called Shisha.

The Hookah got a lot of names all around the world, for Example Shisha, Nargile, Chicha.
Even though the Hookah originated from the Orient there are a lot of different styles and designs to be found nowadays.
But first lets talk about the general design of the Hookah. Independent of the overlaying design and style, the concept of the Hookahs is almost always the same.

First things first, as usual there are a lot of different materials available for making a Hookah out of.
Aluminum, Copper, Stainless Steel or even Wood are just a few examples.

Bowl

The Bowl is used to Contain the Shisha itself. Over the years there have been many Designs of bowls but nowadays the so called Phunnel and
Egyptian style are probably the most used designs. Usually the bowls are made out of Ceramic, the underlying material changes the general performance of the Bowl.
An exception to that are the more modern Aluminum Bowls that have been developed recently.
There are also different ways on how to apply heat to the Shisha itself. The most basic Method is using Aluminum foil, and simply placing charcoal on top of the foil.
The foil acts as a barrier between the Shisha and the coal so the Shisha gets heated up, not burnt. Holes in the foil allow air to pass through the coals and Shisha.
A more modern approach to heating up the bowl is the so called HMD, a heat management device. It replaces the foil and goes on top of the Bowl.
You can put the coals inside the HMD and regulate the flow of air to the coals, so you've got a little bit more of a finer heat adjustment then just the simple foil method.

Bowlport

The Bowlport is made to hold the Bowl, and to create an airtight seal you add a rubber grommet to the Port. The added benefit of a grommet on the port is that the bowl is secured in Place and can't fall of your Shisha, dropping the coals and ending your session rather abruptly.

Coaltray

As the name suggest, the Coaltray is used for placing coals on it and catching the ash and coals falling from the Bowl.
For this reason this part is usually placed below the Bowlport.

Stem

The stem itself connects the bowl and the base and carries the smoke coming from the bowl through the water and to the hose.
The stem and the base are usually the main design element of a Hookah.

Hoseport

The hoseport is designed to provide an airtight connection between the stem and the hose.
The most relevant designs for a hoseport nowadays are the traditional method which uses a grommet just like the bowlport, albeit a lot smaller.
The second design is a ground joint which provides an airtight connection without any kind of grommet. This is done by manufacturing the bowlport and the hoseadapter with very tight tolerances.
Allowing an Airtight connection between these Parts.

Hose

The hose is what carries the smoke towards the mouthpiece. Traditionally hoses were made out of Leather and Wood and were decorated, however Leather tends to soak up the flavor you smoke, that's why a Leather hose needs to be replaced regularly as it ghosts more and more of the last Sessions.
However, you can also use this as a feature and dedicate a hose to a single flavor only, increasing the taste you get from the session.
A newer style of hose is made out of food grade silicone which is easily washable, making for a hose that stays Flavorless for a long time.

Mouthpiece

The Mouthpiece connects to the hose and offers a more pleasent Feel on the Lips then Silicone and Leather, as those are usually made out of Glass or Metal.
However in the last year we've been seeing alot more Mouthpieces made out of Carbon Fibre.

Downstem

Back to the Parts that actually belong to the Hookah itself. The Downstem is connected to the Stem and is partly underwater. It carries the Smoke from the Stem through the Water.
Depending on the Kind of Shisha you have the Downstem and the Stem can be the Same thing, but in more modern Hookahs the Downstem is usually Screwed in the Stem itself, so you can disassamble it for easier cleaning.

Diffusor

A Diffusor is more of a upgrade to your Hookah then a standard Part, however some Hookahs come with a Diffusor right out of the Box.
It's essentilly a part that screws into the Downstem and changes the Downstem from being one big hole to many smaller holes.
Thus, the Smoke doesnt travel in a few bigger bubbles through the Base, instead you only have smaller bubbles which create alot less Noise, which is Quiet handy when it comes to smoking while watching a movie for example.

This about sums it up and explains the general Design of a Hookah. Of course there is alot more to know then what was written here, and there are alot of exceptions out there in the Wild, however including everything would make this Text alot bigger then it already is.