Did you know that the bowl packing method used should vary depending on the brand of hookah tobacco you are smoking? If you are packing a bowl of Tangiers tobacco the same way you are packing Starbuzz, for example, odds are you are packing one or both of those bowls the wrong way. Improper packing methods can cause you to waste lots of tobacco over the course of time, leaving your hookah bowls with half-cooked shisha or you can "shock" the tobacco which means you have applied too much heat to the leaves too quickly. This leads to a hookah bowl that tastes like pure charcoal or just tastes completely burnt in general.
In this blog, we are going to review the 3 main bowl packing methods as well as the optimal packing methods for each brand of hookah tobacco to ensure that all your future smoke sessions are as rich and enjoyable as the last.
The Fluff Pack Method (Semi-Dense Pack)
The fluff pack method - also known as a semi-dense pack - is far and away the most common packing method used among hookah smokers. The fluff packing method is performed by first taking the necessary amount of shisha tobacco out of the bag or can, and breaking it apart - usually onto a plate or into a cup.
Once you break it up, begin sprinkling the tobacco into the bowl and just let it sort of fall from your fingertips gracefully into the hookah bowl. Once you have allowed enough tobacco to fall into the bowl, pat it down so that it is slightly more densely packed. Add more onto the top of the bowl as needed, and remember to pack that down slightly as well.
It's important to note that you don't want to pack it down too densely, as you will restrict airflow through the bowl and then you'll have a tough time smoking your bowl at all. The end result should look something like the photo on the left.
The Dense Pack Method
The dense pack method is basically the same as the fluff pack, except more tobacco will be utilized in this process. The main difference is, instead of simply patting the shisha down lightly as explained in the fluff pack, you actually do want to pack it down a lot more tightly. In theory, you should use more tobacco than with the semi-dense pack method, but it should actually look as though there isn't quite as much in the bowl.
Note: It's a good idea to use a shisha fork or even a toothpick once the bowl is packed to manually create pockets of air through which your heat and smoke can flow freely.
The dense pack theoretically can be used with most all shisha tobacco brands, but this method is especially important and virtually mandatory when smoking Tangiers shisha tobacco.
The Over Pack Method
The Over Pack method is reserved for shisha tobacco that can handle copious amounts of heat. Like, a LOT of heat. Generally, the over pack is the easiest bowl packing method there is, but the least common since most shishas cannot handle as much heat as needed to use the over pack. It's simple, though. You'll just want to break out the shisha you need, a good rule of thumb is to use 25 grams more than you would with a typical bowl.
Sprinkle the tobacco in your hookah bowl liberally, filling it to the brim and beyond. As pictured to the left, your bowl should be heaping with tobacco by the time you are finished with the pack. That's really it. Once the tobacco is filling the bowl, it is a good idea to use a shisha fork or your finger to evenly distribute the shisha throughout the bowl without actually packing it down at all - just let it heap, baby.
Put your foil over the top of the tobacco (it doesn't matter if it's touching the foil), poke your holes, heat your coals and let it roll.
Over Pack - Recommended Brands: Haze Shisha Tobacco
There you have it! These are the three most common bowl packing methods used consistently throughout the hookah world. Just remember to be conscious of the brand of tobacco you are using at all times and follow the guide accordingly and you will be loading quality bowl after quality bowl in no time. By using proper packing methods, you extend your sessions, more efficiently burn your tobacco, get better flavor and improve the overall quality of your hookah game, tenfold.