The Ultimate Tobacco Packing Guide
Hello again everyone, and welcome back to the Masonshishaware blog! Today’s entry is all about packing. It’s safe to say that this is the single most important step in preparing a hookah. Despite how much, or how little you invest in a setup for that matter, packing is where everything comes into play.
Now, if you’ve been involved with the online hookah communities, hookah related social media accounts, hookah reviewers on YouTube, or even are just simple hookah lounge enthusiasts, at some point or another you have had to of heard of specific packing methods. These methods are tried and true, and more importantly came about through endless experimentation. These methods focus on the performance of your tobacco, and although you can pack any tobacco any way that you’d like, the usage of these methods set a good session apart from a great session.
- The Fluff Pack
The Fluff Pack (Or Sprinkle Pack as some call it) is the simplest method out there, and is quite literally described in the name. When using The Fluff Pack, you are letting gravity do the work for you. You start with a pinch of tobacco and use your fingers in a rubbing motion to separate the leaves and simply let the leaves fall into your bowl until it reaches the rim of the bowl.
From there you use either your fingers, hole poker, fork, or my personal favorite; a toothpick to then give the leaves a bit of direction and remove any excess that would otherwise give this pack density. It is important NOT to pat down the tobacco but merely spread it evenly at the rim level. You need lots of air pockets present in this pack for it to be properly categorized as a true Fluff Pack.
Brands that work especially well with a Fluff Pack are: Fumari, Starbuzz, Hookafina, Social Smoke, and Fantasia. These brands are typically very wet and use light Virginia Flue Cured leaf which bakes ideally with ample room to bubble up and expand.
- The Normal Pack
The Normal Pack is the next step regarding tobacco density. With this pack, you are still utilizing the previous method, but giving the tobacco a touch of density. Due to the number of brands that call for this pack it has been dubbed as such, considering it is basically the industry norm.
The exact directions of this pack are to sprinkle the tobacco into the bowl until at the rim, once again letting gravity do the work in terms of density at the beginning. From there, use your tool of choice to give the leaves direction, only this time when making the tobacco even a slight pat down is encouraged. This is your quintessential Normal Pack.
The most important part of this pack is knowing your density levels. It is very easy to go overboard with the pat down and at that point it will be a whole other level of density that I will cover in the next method. The best way to remember a Normal Pack is by the slight pat down, and emphasize the “slight” to yourself when you are done sprinkling it into the bowl before any alterations are made. You always want air pockets in this pack as that is what makes the tobacco shine through best.
Brands that are best served up in the method are: Al Fakher, Al Fakhamah, Alchemist Original, Black Lava, Zomo Blonde, Trifecta Blonde, Pure Tobacco, Adalya, Al Waha and Elite, Lavoo Original, Ugly, Argelini, Afzal, Khalil Maamoon (KM) Tobacco, NU Tobacco, Karma Tobacco, Mazaya Tobacco, Cloud9, and Nirvana Tobacco. See why it is considered the norm now?
- The Semi Dense Pack
In recent years this pack has become one of the most popular, although that seems to be done out of misconception. What some people classify as a Semi Dense Pack is either the next step down in density or more of a normal pack entirely. So, what truly makes a semi dense pack, well, semi dense?
Simply put a Semi Dense Pack is exactly what the name transcribes. You are not at a full dense pack, but nor are you in the guidelines of a normal pack. To accomplish this, you again use all the directions in the previously described methods but instead of the slight pat down you give the tobacco a healthy nudge when leveling it at the rim. The best way to describe this in words is spongey. The tobacco should have minimal air pockets but should also bounce back up when checking the density. A raging semi, if you will.
One extra tip for this method is to look at the sides of a piece of charcoal. The sides are somewhat dense and provide the best visual as to what should be going on in this type of pack.
Brands that are best packed this way are: Trifecta Dark Blend, Alchemist Stout, Haze Tobacco, Starbuzz Vintage, and Heavenleaf Teabacco.
- The Dense Pack
The Dense Pack is the last method on the list but should always be remembered especially when dealing with dark blends of hookah tobacco. This pack goes far beyond what I have already mentioned but is still easy to accomplish despite the warnings of its difficulty.
To achieve a proper Dense Pack evenly distributing the tobacco is the name of the game. Start with your fluff pack, evolve it to the normal pack, push it to the semi dense, and then go even further by spreading the tobacco completely to the rim and minimizing the air pockets to near nonexistent levels which ultimately differs it from the semi dense pack. From there check with your utensil of choice, if the tobacco is still spongey, gentle nudges will get you to the desired density of this pack. The tricks here are to look for any indication of the bowl color showing through and to make sure everything is evenly distributed. Once you have made sure that you’re in the clear, get to smoking.
A great way to check the density of this specific method is to look at the top of a clean-cut charcoal, and I do mean a prestigious looking, one that could moonlight as a model for other charcoal. You will see no air pockets and an even surface. This is a true dense pack.
The few brands that benefit from this type of pack are: Alchemist KFC, Hookafina Blak, Lavoo Heritage, Zomo Strong, Nakhla, and all lines of Tangiers. Basically, everything that has a higher nicotine concentration usually benefits most from this pack.
Lastly, you can even go beyond the dense pack to an Extreme Dense Pack that has absolutely no air pockets whatsoever and is specifically used with Tangiers and in some cases certain traditional style tobaccos. To achieve this, you are essentially pushing the tobacco down until it has no give and is slightly under the rim. Beware as this can be quite a bit more potent in terms of smoke feel, flavor output, and nicotine.
There you have it! These are the general guidelines of density that most brands fall into. Every tobacco IS different and treating them as such no matter how similar in consistency and taste they are, is evolving as a hookah smoker. As I said earlier, you can pack any tobacco however you’d like and prefer, but these methods are the way you transform it. Thank you for reading and I hope this provides some new insight on old brands and perhaps even new brands you’ve been confused on packing!