A Brief Overview of Hookah Bowls
Hookah has been around for a long time, longer than anyone can remember, dating back hundreds of years. It’s something that’s changed a lot over time, as most things do. Today I want to talk a little bit about bowls. Bowls are a very important aspect of hookah. I mean, it’s pretty much impossible to have a session without one, right? “But Wade, there are so many bowls, how do I know which one is the best?” There’s no right answer to that question, nor is there a wrong answer. Something about hookah that I’ve always loved is how much of it boils down to personal preference. I may love my Alien Mini bowl, and you may love your Egyptian clay bowl. That doesn’t make either of us wrong, it’s just what we prefer. Even if you may think you’ve found the perfect bowl for you, there may be one out there that’s going to work even better for you. Here’s just a few bowls that are some of the most popular, and some of the most popular. Bowls choice is all personal preference... There's no right or wrong answer... The Egyptian Clay Bowl An Egyptian Bowl The original bowl. I think almost everyone has used one at some point, it’s what most people start with. Egyptian clay bowls are all generally handmade, and none by any particular company, for the most part. The key features of the Egyptian clay bowl are the holes at the bottom, which, if you’re smoking something like Fumari, can allow tons of juice to go down the stem of your hookah, essentially causing flavor loss. This is why a lot of people use Egyptian bowls for their traditional drier shisha, like Nakhla and Al Fakher. That’s not to say you can’t use an Egyptian for more modern brands, but I believe most modern shishas were made with a phunnel bowl in mind. There have been some newer bowls that have tried to improve upon the Egyptian style bowl, like the OG(Alpaca) Egyptian that features raised holes in the center of the bowl to prevent some juice loss, but none have caught major attention in the community for the most part. The traditional style is something that works well, and while minor adjustments can be made to the bowl to improve upon it, it’s not something that’s going to drastically change how you smoke, and is why the classic Egyptian is still one of the most popular bowls around, in addition to being a super affordable option out there. The Sahara Smoke Vortex Bowl [caption id="attachment_2689" align="alignright" width="300"] A Sahara Smoke Vortex Bowl[/caption] Sahara Smoke is well known company for making a wide variety of hookahs, most of which are great for beginners, and is gaining a lot of popularity with their new "Executive" hookah. What most people don't realize about Sahara Smoke is that they also created the vortex bowl, something that doesn't get nearly as much attention as the rest of the bowls on this list. The Vortex bowl was created before phunnel bowls, and many credit the design of the phunnel to be based on the Vortex bowl. The Vortex bowl features a raised spire, with several holes on it to allow for better airflow. This essentially allowed substantially less juice loss with brands like Fumari or Haze, that are known for having a lot of juice in them. This was a game changer because it allowed for newer brands to have more juice in them, and people praised Sahara Smoke for their innovation. Unfortunately, the holes were too small, which would restrict airflow when compared to a traditional Egyptian bowl, or, later, phunnel bowls. If shisha was covering the holes, you would be blocking your airflow completely. The Tangiers Small Bowl As I said, this is more or less the first phunnel bowl. Tangiers requires a very dense pack, which is why packing it in an Egyptian bowl wasn’t really practical because a dense pack would block all airflow. [caption id="attachment_2683" align="alignleft" width="300"] Two Tangiers Small Bowls[/caption] The main feature of this bowl in particular is that it was basically the first game changer in bowls, and it holds very little shisha, which makes it great for shorter sessions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit with most heat management devices, and the spire is too high which can cause foil to be dragged down into the spire, blocking airflow. Crown Hookah Bowls Crown Bowls are unique because they were basically the first glass hookah bowls on the market, made out of a high quality Schott Borosilicate glass that takes temperature changes amazingly. They were also one of the first phunnel bowls to come out after the Tangiers Small. A Crown Hookah Bowl The main features of the crown bowl were that it’s made of a high quality glass that conducts heat very well, arguably better than normal clay or ceramic, and you can expect almost zero ghosting due to the lack of being a porous material. Unfortunately, while it is a high quality glass, it is still glass ultimately, and can be shattered easier than a clay bowl. The HookahJohn Harmony Bowl HookahJohn is well known for being an innovator in the hookah industry, as well as being one of the three most popular online retailers for hookah products. He gained a lot of popularity for his phunnel bowls. Most people on the online hookah community are aware of the Harmony bowl, even if they don’t own one. It’s arguably one of the best-selling phunnel bowls in existence thusfar. The HookahJohn Harmony Bowl The Harmony bowl gained a lot of popularity because it fixed the big problem that the Tangiers small bowls had- foil drag. The spire on the Harmony bowl was noticeably lower than the ridge of the bowl, so it didn’t have any problems with the foil getting sucked into the spire. The Stoneware material that is used with these bowls conducts heat exceptionally well, essentially prolonging your session compared to a cheap ceramic bowl. Some of the cons with the Harmony bowl were that it held a lot of shisha- more than one round of coals will use, essentially wasting shisha for people who preferred shorter sessions. This was fixed when John released the 80ft bowl, essentially just a smaller version of the Harmony bowl. The Kaloud Samsaris Bowl One of the biggest hookah accessories in the last decade is the Kaloud Lotus, which most of you know well for being a heat management device that essentially improves the quality of your sessions, and prolongs the life of coconut coals. Due to the Lotus’ popularity, Kaloud decided to make a bowl that would be a perfect fit for the Lotus, and thus, the Samsaris was born. The Kaloud Samsaris Bowl The Samsaris is made of silicone, which means it won’t break for normal drops or the like. The bowl also featured a lip that the lotus would rest in, which locked in the heat. The Samsaris was exceptionally popular at first, mostly due to the fact that it bore the Kaloud name, and was a perfect fit for the Lotus. The major issue with the Samsaris wasn’t really discovered until several months after it was released. The silicone on the spire degrades if you put too much heat on it, more or less destroying the spire after a few months of use. Besides that, the bowl being made of silicone means that it was also was notorious for ghosting because of how porous of a material silicone is. A little over a year after the Samsaris released, Kaloud remade the bowl and released the Kaloud Samsaris Vitira, which featured the same lip that the original Samsaris had, but instead had a glass interior to the bowl, compared to silicone. This more or less fixed the problems that the original bowl had, and has seen mostly positive reviews since its release. Only time will tell if it’s a bowl that’ll last or not. The Stonefit Bowl In 2015, a newer company emerged onto the market, by the name of Stone Hookah Bowls. They featured bowls that were made of high quality stoneware, which retains heat better than any bowl on the market. They started gaining a lot of popularity for their Stonefit bowl, a bowl that featured a lip for heat management devices like the Kaloud Lotus. The StoneFit Bowl The bowl itself features grooves on the bottom, which the creator (Brandon George) calls StoneGrooves, and he claims that they collect excess juice from shisha and slowly cook it over time, essentially providing more flavor to the session, as well as having longer-lasting flavor. This is a hard thing to prove, but they definitely don’t detriment the session in any way. It also features a rook type design on the spire, preventing any kind of foil drag and allowing more airflow to your shisha. The kind of stoneware that is used in this bowl is exceptionally high quality as well, and retains heat for hours after you’re done smoking. The only drawback to the bowl is that you can’t really cool it down right after you’re done smoking because it’ll cause the stoneware to micro-fracture, meaning your bowl can become porous and leak juice. It also has a narrow base, which mean it’s kind of hard to fit on some wider stems, like a Regal or a Shika. As you can see, there are tons of different bowls on the market. This is just the tip of the iceberg though; there are hundreds of other bowls on the market that exist. Some better, some not. What it boils down to is personal preference, as well as innovation for many of the bowls I pointed out here. Whether you like the classic Egyptian, the Stonefit bowl, or a different bowl, how well it smokes comes down to how it’s being packed. What bowl do you prefer? Leave it in the comments below!