After you pick which type and flavor of shisha you would like to smoke, then it is time to pack the bowl so you can enjoy it. The shisha generally comes in bags and is presoaked in molasses. This keeps the tobacco moist and also prolongs its shelf life. The molasses also makes the tobacco sticky and encourages it to clump together.
First grab a pinch of shisha and break up any of the clumps and sprinkle it into your bowl. Depending on which size and which type of bowl you have the amount of shisha will vary. For best hookah there should be roughly 1/8 of an inch between the top of the shisha and the rim of the bowl. If there is less the coal may burn the shisha and make your hookah harsh. If there is more the shisha will get packed down and block the airflow through your bowl, this will make it hard to pull and very difficult to smoke. This step is the same for vortex bowls, phunnel bowls, and egyptian bowls; the only difference is to not fill the bowl above the holes in the vortex bowl and about even with the center spire in the phunnel bowl. Now we need to cover the bowl with either a screen or foil.
Hookah screens and aluminum foil can be used above the shisha to cover the bowl. Hookah screens are set on top of the bowl and the metal tabs are bent around the side to secure it to the bowl. The screens are reusable and reliable but are not adjustable as far as number, size, and spacing of the holes. The most common method is using foil, which requires a bit more work to set up. If you are using the foil be sure to cover the entire bowl with a square sheet of foil leaving about 1/8 of an inch between the shisha and the foil. Make sure the foil is taught across the top of the bowl.
The last step is to poke holes in the foil to allow the air to pass through. We recommend using a thumbtack or a staple; we have seen people use mechanical pencils and paper clip. More smaller holes allow the heat to spread more evenly versus less larger holes. For an egyptian bowl you want to poke around 50-100 holes covering the whole bowl. At Hookastuff we like to spiral out from the center of the bowl. Vortex bowls and Funnel bowls require a little different set up for the best smoke. You want to cover the entire bowl with holes except for the middle where the spire is located. Now you’re ready to add your coal and smoke!