Hookah Basics: Hookah Stem Styles
Hookahs have been around for centuries. Their forms and features have changed over time. However, many components remain similar to this day. As hookah became widespread, noticeable differences popped up between Egyptian and Syrian styles. More differences became apparent as Turkish and Russian hookahs emerged onto the scene. Today, we have modern American hookahs, state of the art German hookahs, and many contemporary designs or styles that add to the traditional elements.
Different Styles of Hookah Stem
The hookah stem, also known as the pipe, is the central piece that connects the base, the bowl, the tray, and the hose. While each of these parts is integral to the entire setup, the Hookah stem or pipe serves as the master connector, kind of a motherboard for a computer. Just as there are many types of bowls, bases, trays, and hoses, we have plenty of hookah stem styles. It should be noted that almost all styles of hookah stem are influenced by the original designs, and state of the art elements are a result of technology.
Hookah stems are made of one or more materials. You will find metal, glass, silicone, plastic, ceramic, acrylic, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, crystal, wood, bamboo, and resin. The most popular materials are metal, stainless steel, brass, and aluminum. Crystal is expensive. Glass is considered to be a tad fragile compared to metals and alloys, unless it is of supremely sturdy quality. Wood and bamboo are environmentally friendly options. Plastic and acrylic are not as popular. Ceramic is a fine option, but is not very widespread. Resin is not used by most major brands.
Most manufacturers use a combination of materials. Many stems feature a combination of two materials, thus forming an interior and exterior. For example, the interior of a stem could be a stainless steel pipe, and the exterior may be wood. In such cases, the stem sports an ornamental wooden design. Some styles feature brass plating. There may also be some glass or crystal decoration on the stem. Not all hookah stems sport decorative features, but most Egyptian and Syrian styles do. Modern hookahs are more geared towards ergonomic form and practical function, including convenience, instead of being overtly ornamental.
All hookah stems or pipes have a base material. Additionally, there are embellishments and these don’t always serve the purpose of ornamentation. Almost every major shisha manufacturer has embellishments at distinct parts of the stem, primarily to highlight the features and also for convenience. So, a stem will have some kind of embellishment around the top and bottom ends, which connect to the bowl and the base respectively. There is another embellishment around the hose port. The purge valve also has some kind of visibly distinct feature. These embellishments may be solid structures or some kind of plating, usually of a material different than that of the base of the pipe.
A few embellishments are for practical purposes. For instance, a popular style element of hookahs is the grip. Just as the grip of a hose is of vital importance, there should be some dedicated parts on the pipe that can be held by the user. Such grips may be embellished with wood. A few manufacturers opt for leather. Wood and leather are easy to grip. These also enhance the aesthetic value of a hookah. The number and type of embellishments depend on the size of the hookah, and hence the height of the stem. Taller stems usually have more embellishments, at times of more than one material.
Egyptian hookahs are a traditional design. These handmade shishas usually have a sturdy stem with ornamental features. They are equally functional and beautiful. The stems are not only decorative in terms of construction but may also sport pretty paints. Some models have more than one hose port. Syrian and Turkish hookahs can be as decorative or beautiful and functional as Egyptian styles. Unlike the latter, Syrian and Turkish hookahs are not necessarily handmade. Hence, they are often more modern, and tend to use stainless steel instead of brass.
Many companies are now making hookah stems with state of the art features. You will come across stems with click-lock mechanism, silicone ports, telescoping ability, molasses catcher, and premium quality grommets. Some models now have magnetic connectors or ports for hoses. A few models have removable diffusers. From anodized aluminum to carbon fiber, new materials are also being used by some manufacturers. While the basic form and structure as well as the function of a hookah stem remains unchanged, new styles and features continue to emerge in time.