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7 Quick and Easy Steps To Set Up Your Tabletop Hookah

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Hookahs come in many different shapes and sizes, and they can range in complexity when it comes to setting them up. Some hookahs have a very simple design and can be set up in a matter of minutes, while others have more intricate designs that can take a bit longer to set up. Regardless of the complexity of the setup, every beginner should know how to set up their hookah.

How to Set Up a Tabletop Hookah (Beginner’s Guide)

If you’re wondering how to set up your hookah, you’ve come to the right place! This guide will show you how to set up your tabletop hookah and how to get your hookah going. By following these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy the best shisha smoking experience possible.

How to set up a tabletop hookah

  1. Choose the type of hookah you want to use.
  2. Clean your hookah before use.
  3. Ensure you have all of the parts for assembly.
  4. Choose the right hookah charcoal for your needs.
  5. Find a shisha brand you’ll enjoy.
  6. Assemble your hookah.
  7. Light the coals.


Hookah Setup Guide

Each part of your typical hookah is shown in the image below:

  • Wind cover or foil
  • Bowl at the very top
  • Bowl grommet
  • Ashtray
  • A stem or referred to as a shaft
  • A valve grommet
  • Air valve
  • Hose
  • Mouth tip
  • Hose grommet

Step 1: Choose Your Tabletop Hookah

Burning coals on a tabletop hookah.

The MYA QT is one of the most popular and best tabletop varieties on the market. It’s available in silver and gold stems and stands at only 14 inches tall with a heavy-duty base that’s far less likely to tip over. The QT also comes apart for easy cleaning, which makes it an excellent option for those who want a simple hookah. Additionally, the QT can be transformed into a two-hose hookah by changing the purge valve for a hose adapter, making it a versatile option to smoke with friends.

The Bocci is an excellent smaller hookah for any tabletop smoking session. It also has an incredibly sturdy base made of thick glass. What’s unique about this smaller MYA hookah is that the stem comes in any color choice, and the matte black stem stands out, making it sleek and cool. The Bocci is only 9 inches tall, which makes it one of the sturdiest and best hookahs you’ll find.

The Apple On Top (AOT) is a perfect hookah for tabletop use. It has a shatterproof acrylic base that’s strong and durable. This hookah is ideal for your next housewarming party, a night with friends, or smoking while playing video games. Due to its built-in diffuser, smoking this hookah is effortlessly quiet. With its sturdy base and silicone accessories, you’re sure to have a unique and high-quality tabletop hookah to enjoy.

Step 2: Cleaning Your Tabletop Hookah

It’s crucial to clean your hookah. If you don’t clean it, the tobacco flavor will become stale, and it won’t be easy to get a good draw. Not cleaning your hookah will also create a breeding ground for bacteria, and you could get sick.

How do you clean a tabletop hookah, and with what?

Cleaning your hookah is actually pretty easy. All you need is some hot water, isopropyl alcohol, and a scrubber or toothbrush. First, disassemble the hookah and soak the pieces in hot water for a few minutes. Then, scrub the pieces with the isopropyl alcohol. Finally, rinse the pieces with hot water and let them air dry. Use a soft cloth to wipe down the outside and inside of the pipe. Remember to change the water in the base regularly, too; this will help keep your hookah bacteria-free.

Step 3: Ensure You Have All the Pieces for Your Tabletop Hookah

If you’re wondering what pieces you should have for your hookah setup, we’ve got the list here:

  • The bowl is where the tobacco is placed.
  • The stem is where the smoke travels through.
  • The base is what the hookah sits on.
  • The hose is what the smoker uses to inhale the smoke.
  • Hookah charcoal is a soft, black charcoal that burns slowly and evenly to heat the tobacco.
  • Shisha is the type of tobacco that’s typically smoked in a hookah.
  • Water to pour into the vase at the bottom of the hookah.

Step 4: Selecting Your Hookah Coal

A tabletop hookah sitting on a table in front of a red hookah lounge chair.

Hookah briquettes are small, compressed blocks of charcoal specifically designed for use in a tabletop hookah. They’re made of high-quality charcoal and are really easy to use; all you need to do is light them and let them heat up. Hookah briquettes are a great alternative to traditional charcoal and provide a consistent, reliable heat source for your hookah. They’re also affordable, making them an excellent option for budget-minded smokers.

Are there any environmentally-friendly charcoal options?

Coconut husk hookah coals, also commonly just referred to as natural hookah charcoal, are made of compressed coconut husk. These are a traditional choice for hookah smokers and are the go-to for hookah lounges. They come in various shapes and sizes, and they’re known for their long-lasting heat. Coconut husk coals are slow-burning and are the most popular type of charcoal for hookah smoking because they don’t produce the same chemical taste that other charcoal can have. Since they’re made from ground-up coconut shells, you’ll get the cleanest possible taste for your hookah session when smoking with them.

Step 5: Picking Your Tabletop Hookah Tobacco

Hookah shisha combines tobacco, a binding agent like honey, glycerin, or molasses, and flavorings like fruit or other juices. Hookah tobacco comes in blonde or dark-leaf tobacco and washed or unwashed shisha. Blonde tobacco is made from tobacco that has been sun-dried and then soaked in a sweet syrup or honey mixture. This method gives the tobacco a light, sweet flavor. Dark leaf tobacco is made from tobacco that has been fermented and then soaked in a sweet or savory syrup. This process gives the tobacco a dark, earthy flavor.

Washed shisha tobacco is typically sweeter and made from tobacco treated with a glycerin or molasses solution. Unwashed shisha tobacco has not been treated, providing the tobacco with a harsher, more bitter flavor. Most people prefer to smoke washed shisha because it has a smoother, more mellow flavor. However, some people prefer the harsher, more intense flavor of unwashed shisha. Whatever you choose, it all comes down to personal preference.

What are the most common flavors of shisha?

Hookah shisha tobacco is available in a variety of flavors and styles, including:

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Grape
  • Cherry
  • Watermelon
  • Cinnamon
  • Apricot
  • Mint
  • Passionfruit
  • Pineapple

Step 6: Setting up Tabletop Hookah

The first step in setting up your tabletop hookah is adding water to your hookah. Start by pouring cold water into the vase at the base of the hookah. You’ll want to add enough water to cover roughly 1 inch of the metal stem. Be careful not to soak the hoses. It’s essential to leave some space for air to dilute the smoke and make it easy to draw on the hose.

Remove the detachable top from the hookah. On the inside of the top, you’ll see a small hole. This hole is where the down stem will go. Next, take the down stem and insert it into the hole on the top. Make sure that the down stem is inserted all the way in.
Now, it’s time to put the grommet on the end of the down stem. The grommet is a small rubber ring that will help seal the down stem in the top. Once the grommet is in place, put the top back on the hookah. Then, put the bowl on top of the down stem. You should ensure that the hole in the bowl is pointing up, and attach the hose to the hose connector.

How do I pack the bowl and load the coals?

Finally, it’s time to load up your shisha and coals:

  1. Break the shisha up into small pieces and place them in the bowl. You want the shisha to be about a quarter of an inch below the top of the bowl. This will help ensure that the flavors are distributed evenly.
  2. Place the bowl on top of the tabletop hookah shaft.
  3. Cover the bowl with heavy-duty foil.
  4. Poke several holes through the foil using a toothpick. This will allow the smoke to circulate and the flavors to meld.
  5. Test the airflow by drawing on the hose. If you have trouble pulling air, add more holes.
  6. Transfer the coals to the foil. Place the coals evenly around the edge of the foil or even slightly overhanging the edge.

Now that you have everything set up, it’s time to light up your coals.

Step 7: Lighting Your Tabletop Hookah Coals

Someone lighting the coals on their tabletop hookah.

Coconut husk coals take a little bit longer to light than quick-light charcoal, but they don’t impart a chemical flavor to the smoke. They also burn less intensely, preventing the burning of shisha tobacco and harsh smoke. You can invest in a hookah coal lighter, or if you have a gas stove, you can use the flame to light your coals. You’ll know they are ready when they have turned grey all around.

Once your coals are lit, you can begin to add them to your hookah bowl. The general rule of thumb is to add them in a circular pattern, with the coals spaced evenly apart. Make sure not to pack them in too tightly; this will make it difficult for the heat to circulate evenly. Make sure you have water in the base of your hookah and that your hose is in the water. You’ll also want to place your coal tray on top of your coals. This will help distribute the heat evenly and keep your coals from falling off of the hookah.


Now that you know how to set up your tabletop hookah, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your hookah session! Your first smoking session may seem daunting at first. However, with a little help from our guide, you should have no trouble setting up and enjoying your own hookah smoking experience.

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Last updated on December 5, 2022

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