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Not counting stoppers and grommets, hookah pipes are ordinarily composed of between five and six main pieces. These pieces may come separately if you order a hookah online or by mail, requiring you to assemble them together. Here we will familiarize you with these pieces, what they do and how they fit into each other.

The Bowl

The bowl or “head” of a hookah, is a small vessel that is more often than not made from clay. The bowl is where you put the smoking mixture and the coal in order for the pipe to begin smoking. The bowl is first packed with your smoking mixture and then covered with a screen (usually wire mesh or perforated foil paper). Hot coals are placed on top of this screen, thus creating the heat necessary for the smoking mixture to heat up and begin to smoke.

The Windscreen (optional)

A Hookah windscreen is a cover for the top of the bowl with some holes in it for the movement of air. Its purpose is to stop wind from blowing ashes all over the place and also to prevent any air from speeding up the way the coals burn. It also provides some limited fire protection in that it prevents coals from being ejected from the bowl.

The Hose

The hose on a hookah pipe (some pipes are fitted with several) is a thin and flexible length of tube that allows the smoke to be drawn through the pipe, thus cooling the smoke before it reaches the smoker. The end of the hose is always fitted with a mouthpiece that can have different styles and colors and is often made of wood, but also of metal glass and plastic. Originally hookah pipes were all fitted with straight necked tubes, but most hookahs today feature the flexible hose.

The Body and Gaskets

The main body of a hookah pipe is a hollow tube onto which the bowl fits at the top, the vase at the bottom, sealed by gaskets and openings for the insertion of one or more hoses.

The Purge valve (optional)

Most hookah pipes also feature a purge valve in the water jar which is used to get rid of stale smoke that has collected in the pipe if it has been sitting unused for a while. The valve is a one way system that uses ball bearing to seal a port when there is suction, when blown into, the ball bearing lifts and allows the smoke inside the hookah to be ejected.

The Water Jar or Vase

The water jar is the main chamber at the bottom into which water is placed. The down stem of the body of the hookah enters the jar and sits just below the level of the water when the jar and body are fitted together. Smoke moves through the body of the hookah, through the down stem and out into vase where it is cooled and filtered through the water. Traditionally other liquids such as fruit juice are added to the water or used in its stead. In addition it is not uncommon for pieces of fruit, mint leaves, and crushed ice to be added to the liquid in the vase.


The plate is basically an ash tray, it sits beneath the bowl and catches the ash that falls from the burning coals.

The Grommets

Grommets are typically used between the main body of the hookah and all its attachments. They are used between the body and the bowl, the gasket and the vase and also between the body and the hoses. The reason for the grommets being used is to prevent loss of suction, thus ensuring a better smoke, although people frequently improvise using pieces of paper and tape where grommets are unavailable in order to ensure the vacuum inside the hookah is maintained.


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