Welcome back to the blog everyone and thanks for stopping by! Today’s entry dives into the single most difficult topic regarding hookah; heat management. Heat management ultimately determines how your session will go and by nailing your methods you can make even the lowest quality bowl smoke like a dream. In this guide I will relaying how to treat your Mason products to get the utmost out of them with minimal effort, so before you throw your coals on that fresh bowl, stay awhile and brush up on some need to know techniques that’ll truly send your session to the next level.
Lastly before we get in to the blog, check out our packing tutorials for your specific brand of choice here as the tutorials all relate to how you should heat manage your Mason bowl.
To lay the scene, you’ve managed to get your hands on an Onyx bowl or Helyx bowl, you pack it up, and tragically there is no smoke, or even worse it’s already charred before you really get a chance to enjoy it. Hey, we’ve all been there.
The first thing to understand with the small family of products we offer here is that each is made with clay that needs ample time to heat up. Patience is the key here. This clay is far different that what you see in other manufacturers and especially what you will find on a cheap Chinese hookah from your local establishment, treating the line of Mason products as such is going to be imperative.
What I mean by this is that you don’t want to make the top of bowl look like a dumpster fire. Sure, you’ll heat your bowl up much faster but you increase the risk of charring your tobacco tenfold in the process. You have to remember that hookah isn’t a race, it’s quite the opposite actually especially with Mason bowls. Start with your normal practices for getting other bowls to smoke and gently increase the heat by adding either the top of your hmd or increasing your coal usage by one. Chances are within ten minutes or so you’ll need to drop back down to your usual method as these bowls encompass heat across their surface and basin at a much higher rate than others.
The other basic that should be noted is in your coal choice. There are seemingly an endless supply of charcoal brands and shapes, finding your brand of choice is going to get you to closer to that perfect session with a Mason bowl. If you haven’t checked out our Charcoal Guide, there is some great information that will lead you to finding that much quicker. However, for the sake of the guide’s length and what I’ve found in my years of using the product, I’m going to advocate “flats” for certain hmds and “cubes” for both hmd and general foil usage.
What you want is a medium to high heat coal. As previously stated, the clay needs it to facilitate the session. You can always use a lower heat option if that is how you like to smoke but it’s more than likely you’ll need to continuously ash it to achieve that balance of clouds to flavor. It’s one of those things where it Can be done but Should it? Life with the Mason bowl is much easier with more of the normal range of heat output found in the majority of brands.
The Onyx Bowl
Now that the basics are covered, let’s talk about the Onyx bowl and how to get the most out of it. As you should already be well aware of, the Onyx bowl is designed to use with your hmd of choice however isn’t limited to hmd alone as the lip is quite small.
Speaking personally, the Onyx sees 99% of its usage with hmd in my home and most who buy it seek to do the same. In my opinion it excels much more with a true hmd on top rather than foil or foil and hmd combo. Here’s why.
With the clay composition being so thick in nature, it takes much more charcoal to get going in a foil only scenario and with foil and hmd combo, you run the risk of the hmd sinking down and either causing restriction or not uniformly heating the wider size of the top. With a simple hmd on top like the original Kaloud Lotus it does the work for you. You will be simultaneously heating the tobacco through the nubs underneath being in contact with the tobacco while the bottom and to some degree the sides of the hmd heat up the entirety of the top. This setup has proven time and time again to be one of the top performing ways to use the bowl. Simply add three flat coals inside, throw the lid on for a few minutes, then remove it as you start smoking. With this method you will need to have your tobacco packed to the lip however as an under pack will not suffice. This is merely my go-to for the bowl and I will be listing my findings for other hmds I personally own down below that you can reference with what you have in your collection.
Kaloud Lotus and Lotus I+ : Pack to the rim, add three flat coals, place the lid on while it heats up, remove once you start smoking. Add two new flats at 50 minutes and move one to two to the open vent side. 2 hours.
Oduman Ignis: Pack to the rim, add three cube coals, allow to heat up and drop to 2 coals (unless using lower heat charcoal), add the remaining cube as needed, with option of a new one at the hour mark. 2 hours.
Mig Razor: Slight under pack, add three flat coals, leave the lid on but open for ideal heat, add two new flats at the hour mark, add or remove lid to your liking. 2 hours.
Phoenix: Slight under pack, add preheated device carefully, add three cube coals, four flats, or four mini cubes, place lid on for a few minutes, remove before smoking. 2 hours.
Provost + Foil: Slight under pack, center the device, add two cube coals with top, allow a few minutes to bring it up to temp, begin smoking while opting for longer draws to heat the entirety of the bowl, replace one cube at the hour mark or so while moving the other two to the opposite sides. 2+ hours.
Foil: Slight under pack, add 4 cube coals spread out evenly to avoid hotspots, start up your bowl regularly, drop to three coals while scooting them in closer, ash when needed but keep them in the original spots, add two new cubes at the hour mark to spots that were not heated previously, move the remaining coal with option of using another remnant for higher heat to the last side that wasn’t heated, add wind cover as coals begin to dissipate. 2+ hours.
The Helyx Bowl
This little brother to the Onyx bowl can sure pack a punch and those lucky enough to have one in their collection can surely attest to this. With a low capacity of around 15 grams total and enough clay to be used as a deadly weapon in a home invasion, it’s no wonder that this bowl is one of the most highly sought-after pieces on the hookah market. Specs and quality aside, this bowl is capable of taking an astounding amount of heat while still being remarkably smooth throughout the session. The one key I’ve found regarding its heat management is to not be scared to heat it up and through all aspects of heat application. Whether you go with foil, foil and hmd, or purely hmd, don’t fret having charred tobacco.
During my year of owning this bowl more often than not I was struggling to get it up to a proper temp. This was due to me not believing it could take the amount of heat it called for. It wasn’t until I started using the Mig razor and foil alone that I had the revelation of just what this bowl can produce. For both applications I started with a pack just below the rim and added three full sized cube coals. For the razor I let it do its thing for a few minutes before smoking and with foil it was the typical method of taking long but continuous draws to start it up. With both of these methods managing the heat has been rather nonexistent as the short and stout design seeks to disperse the heat while simultaneously heating the tobacco through induction rather than pulling it through as a direct source. What should be noted is that you HAVE to have your packing methods down before working on heat management. If you are going with too light or too dense of a pack you run the risk of the tobacco being super-heated and the session being a bust, so as simple as it may come off as, just take your time when approaching this bowl as the rewards are outstanding.
My methods are as follows:
Kaloud Lotus and Lotus I+: Pack to the rim, add three flats with the original and 3 cubes for the I+ (it’s okay to leave one hanging out), keep the lid on but open to start with and remove after a few minutes of smoking if your pack calls for it, for the original switch out two new flats at the hour mark and move one of the first set to the open vent and add the lid, for the I+ simply ash and add the lid when needed. 2 hours.
Oduman Ignis: Pack to the rim, carefully center the device and ensure the vents are in the desired area, add three cube coals and keep the lid off, ash accordingly, add one more cube coal at the hour mark and move the remaining to the opposing sides, add the lid as needed. 2 hours.
Mig Razor: Slight under pack with a touch less density than what the tobacco calls for, add three cube coals with the lid on to heat up and remove before you start smoking, ash accordingly and add the lid as needed. 2+ hours with most brands.
Phoenix: Slight under pack, add preheated unit carefully, add 3 cube coals (4 flats or 4 mini cubes as a substitution), keep the lid on to heat up and remove before smoking, ash coals accordingly and add one at the hour mark while removing one to two depending on heat preference, add lid as needed. 2+ hours.
Provost and foil: Pack nearly to the rim, add and center device, add two cube coals and allow it to heat up with lid on, ash accordingly, and one more cube at the hour mark while moving the used coals to opposing sides, tilt or remove lid as needed. 2+ hours with most brands.
Foil: Ensure a tight seal before applying charcoal, add three cube coals as spaced out as possible, take long continuous draws to bring it up to temp, ash accordingly and add one more cube coal at the hour mark while moving the used to the unheated sides, add wind cover when needed though it should be sparingly. 2 Hours with most brands.
Now you’re heat managing like a PRO!
While some of the instructions may be a little more complicated than what you are used to, I can say by following them closely you can expect the same results I and many others see on a consistent basis. Of course, you can add your own twists to them like using mini cubes in place of flats or what have you, but this should be seen more as a general outline to how you should approach the family of products we provide here at Masonshishaware rather than anything that is permanently set in stone.
I hope this has been informational and sets you on the right track to honing your skill set and session with Mason products. It should also be noted than most of these techniques can be used with other bowls as well so experiment with others you have in your collection and let us know how it faired. Once again, thanks for stopping by and if you have any concerns or thoughts as to what I should cover next drop them in a comment below.