Hookah At Home – How to Set Up Your Own Hookah


When you come to Terrace to enjoy traditional Mediterranean cuisine and quality flavored shisha under the stars in our beautiful outdoor courtyard, your server will expertly prepare the hookah for your party. If you’re interested in enjoying the hookah life more often, though, here’s an easy guide to setting up and loading a hookah at home!

Setting Up Your Hookah

hookah parts diagram

A basic household hookah

Step 1

Make sure all the parts of the hookah are rinsed clean of any dust or debris that might have gotten into them during shipping or storage. Nothing spoils the quality of your smoke more than getting a mouthful of dirt instead of the shisha flavor you wanted! Rinsing the parts with water and wiping them dry with a soft cloth is often all that’s needed, particularly if the hookah is new and being set up for the first time.

Step 2

Fill the vase section of the hookah with cool, clear water. Filtered water or distilled water is the best for this purpose, as impurities in the water are another factor that can affect flavor and enjoyment of the hookah. Hookah and vase size varies greatly, but as a rule the stem piece should be immersed in about two inches of water when the hookah is completely assembled. Some smokers like to add ice cubes to the vase. Good quality shisha and hookah setups should produce a mild smoke, but the cooling effect is often even more pleasant.

Hookah Balancing Bellydancer

Don’t try this at home!

Step 3

Attach the hookah stem to the vase. Check all the seals to make sure it’s airtight and not defective. A poor seal between the stem and vase makes it difficult to get the right saturation of hookah smoke from your pull and just burns up your shisha.

Step 4

Most hookahs have a metal ashtray fixture that attaches to the top of the stem. If your hookah includes this piece, the next step is attaching it above the stem and making sure it’s secure and level. This tray catches any stray hot embers and shisha that might fall out of the bowl during use. If your hookah doesn’t include this part, proceed to the next step.

Step 5

Hookah Hose DetailHookah Mouthpiece

Attach the hose used for smoking to the port on the stem assembly. The port usually has a rubber stopper or seal to create an airtight lock where the hose meets the stem. Tightly attach it and check the air flow by covering the stem assembly with your hand and sucking air through the hose. If you’ve set it up properly and all the hookah’s seals are in working order, you’ll be able to pull air into your lungs while producing lots of bubbles in the water you loaded into the vase in Step 2.

Your hookah is now assembled and ready to load with tasty shisha tobacco!

Loading Your Hookah

Step 1

Choose your shisha flavor. Hookah is a tradition with thousands of years of cultural significance, but in the last few decades its popularity has exploded worldwide, resulting in some serious ingenuity on the part of tobacco makers. Any fruit, food, beverage, or candy you can think of is most likely available now from a high quality shisha supplier!

Step 2

Shisha flavor assortment

That’s right– there’s caramel macchiato shisa.

Break your shisha into pieces and sprinkle it into the bowl. This part is important, because breaking it down and sprinkling it properly are essential to creating the airflow needed to produce the optimal smoke strength. Take your time and continue this step until your shisha fills the bowl all the way to the top.

Step 3

After filling the bowl, cover it with two layers of aluminum foil (not tin foil– that’s toxic!) and use a nail or similar object to poke several holes in the foil. Attach the filled, covered bowl to the top of the stem assembly.

Step 4

Light your charcoal on an open flame like a gas stove burner. You will need 1-2 pieces depending on the size of your hookah and bowl. When the coals turn red, they’re ready– use tongs to move them from the stove to the foil covering your bowl.

Step 5

Begin sucking air through the hose. It may take a few minutes for the hookah to fully function, but you’ll know when you start pulling thick, rich breaths of shisha smoke and the vase becomes cloudy. Enjoy!

Now you know how to set up a hookah of your own to smoke at home, but if that sounds like a little too much for you, not to worry! Just come to Terrace Restaurant and Lounge any evening and see the preparation performed by our skilled staff while you enjoy dinner and drinks.

Large Hookah at Terrace Restaurant and Lounge - Encino, CA

Large hookah at Terrace– ours are a little more elaborate!