Heat Management Devices, or HMD's, as they're commonly referred to, are something that are ever growing in the world of hookah. But are they a hindrance? Are they hurting the culture? There are a lot of differing opinions out there on HMD's, and what kind of role that they play in the modern hookah culture. Today we're going to be taking a look at both sides of the arguments - are HMD's training wheels for beginner smokers? Or are they a tool that's revolutionizing how we smoke?
The Foil Method
The most common argument that I see against HMD's as of late is that they're the easy way to smoke - they help new smokers with heat management, but they can almost be a hindrance in learning true heat management. True heat management, of course, is the classic method of coals going directly onto foil, and rotating those coals as needed. HMD's do quite the opposite - instead, the HMD makes contact with the tobacco, and heats up evenly across the bottom of the device. Coals don't need to be rotated in an HMD, as the heat is (relatively) consistent across the whole device. There's less fuss with this method, however you also aren't learning how to properly manage heat. So that raises the main point - do you need to know how to manage heat if you own a HMD? Well, I'll always feel inclined to say yes. However, that's not necessarily the case. If you're never smoking without an HMD, then learning how to manage heat in a different way isn't necessarily important to you.
The Car Comparison
I frequently see hookahs compared to cars - the bowl is your engine, and the driving force behind your smoking session. It's what's giving you the smoke, and the rest of the pipe is simply a body for that smoke to travel through, like a car body. Granted, that's a drastic oversimplification, but I believe that it works. If you take this analogy even further, look at heat management. It could be said that smoking with an HMD is akin to driving an automatic car - the HMD does all of the work for you, and you really don't need to know how the heat is being managed (car guys will hate me for saying that). And on the other side of the coin - the traditional style of managing heat is more like driving a manual transmission. You have direct control over your heat, and you have to actively be controlling how that heat is being used. So, as someone who has only ever driven an automatic car, and who never feels the need to learn how to drive a stick, why would I tell someone to learn how to manage heat without an HMD, when the HMD is endlessly easier to learn how to use?
The Future of Hookah?
The other side of the coin - that using HMD's is the wave of the future, and that it's the best way to smoke hookah, can also be seen. The biggest thing that HMD's do for the culture as a whole though, is that they make hookah more accessible. It's so much easier to just throw some coals into a Lotus and smoke away, it's impossible to deny that. This makes hookah easier for newer smokers to get into, as it takes away the huge barrier for some that is heat management, and makes it more appealing. Bringing more people together through this joined hobby of ours - regardless of how you feel, that is something that can't be forgotten. Maybe something in the tradition of hookah is being lost in this, however I feel that for hookah to grow further in the future, it's more important to look forward than to be clinging to the past (not that that's a bad thing either).
Another aspect of the argument for the "future of hookah" is that they help provide a cleaner smoke. Through the coals not making direct contact with the foil, you get less coal taste, and therefore, a cleaner smoke. While I cannot refute not deny this statement, it can certainly be said that there's little to no coal taste with HMD's, however with decent coconut coals and proper heat management, that same argument could be said for smoking with foil. So, I really see this as a moot point, at least personally speaking.
Here's my personal opinion - heat management devices are a great way to learn how to smoke hookah, however I don't think they should be wholly relied on. Yes, as someone with many different HMD's, I still feel as if learning proper heat management is the best way to smoke hookah. Use them as training wheels, to help yourself learn how to manage heat. HMD's like the Provost are perfect for this kind of thing, as they help you learn how to manage your heat even better. Of course, this is just my opinion, and you can completely ignore it if you so choose!
What do you think? Are you a foil smoker? Or are you an HMD advocate? What role do you think HMD's will play in the future of hookah? Do you think we'll all be using them at some point? Let me know in the comments below! This may be a blog post, but it's meant to be more than that - I want to have a conversation with you, and I want to know how you feel about this. So drop a comment, and let me know what you think in the comments below! As always guys, thank you so much for reading, and happy smokes!