My name is Matt and today I will try to answer a question that I have seen many people been answering on any hookah-related groups in the Internet:
‘How do I pack and smoke my Fortuna?’
Although the title points to Fortuna, please note that this guide is also applicable regarding packing all your Olla Bowls.
So, why Fortuna?
I will keep it simple – because it is a perfect all-arounder on which you can smoke both blonde and dark tobaccos, releasing a huge amount of taste due to its incredible thermal capacity.
Before we go further, there are three major factors that affect your smoking on any bowl you use:
- Tobacco used in the packing
- Your packing method
- Heat Management
As for the tobacco, I personally prefer to pack my Fortuna with brands that offer a fine cut, as it is easier to distribute it in the phunnel bowls in general.
Now, moving on to the pack, I will not tell you how to pack every possible tobacco there is. What I can do, is to give you a general method of how do I pack my Fortuna to enjoy every single hookah session.
Before we start, I will present you what the general rules are:
- The rougher the cut, the ‘fluffier’ should the pack be to release the taste properly;
- Wetter tobaccos fit phunnel bowls better as they can give more taste due to limited airflow through the tobacco in the phunnel;
- And the most important one - More Tobacco does not mean more taste. I know it might seem counterintuitive at first, but believe me, packs that are too dense will rather limit the tobacco’s ability to release the taste rather than giving you more of it.
As some theory has been introduced, it is time to put it into practice. The setup I will be using is:
Hookah: VZ Custom Mini
Bowl: Ollabowls Bacco Antico Faenza;
HMD: Kaloud Lotus 1+ / OllaBowls HMDv2 prototype
Coals: BuCoCo by Oduman (26mm cubes)
Poker and Phunnel plug by OllaBowls
Firstly, take your bowl and get a phunnel plug – it will significantly ease your packing, making it cleaner and allowing for more precise pack.
Secondly, put the tobacco in. Take a small amount of preferred tobacco into your hand and start distributing it equally, thoroughly spreading the tobacco with your fingers in a way you sprinkle salt or pepper.
Make sure there are no chunks of tobacco stuck together in the bowl.
Here is an example of a pre-cleaned pack:
Thirdly, take your foil poker and start re-distributing your tobacco. Keep in mind that unless you are not aiming for a dense pack, you should not press it down with the poker. Instead, just keep gently moving the tobacco sideways until it looks like this:
What is important here, is that you make sure that the tobacco is distributed equally, with no holes in the pack (I do not mean no space between the leafs but equal surface at the top and the tobacco sticking nicely to the walls of the bowl).
If you have any doubts if your pack is equal, just look at the bowl from the angle like presented on the photo above, and rotate it 360 degrees to check if there are some tobacco leafs sticking out.
The last thing to do is to take up a piece of a paper towel and clean up the lip where the HMD will be placed.
USING A KALOUD
When using the Kaloud, my preferred pack is up to 1-2mm below the lip where the HMD sits. Only the Kaloud’s bottom tabs should touch the tobacco slightly.
This way the heat is distributed properly, preventing the tobacco from overheating from above and making it bake from the bottom, releasing maximum amount of flavor in the process.
If you pack it too low, meaning the tobacco will not touch the bulges on the bottom of the Kaloud, there will not be enough heat to give you a proper smoke.
If you pack it too high (tobacco touching the whole bottom of Kaloud), you may burn the tobacco too quick, making your session shorter, and/or having a harsh, burned taste.
Now, the easy part is over. Let’s move to managing the heat.
I usually start with 3 (26mm) cubes of good quality coconut charcoals. Make sure they are fully heated from each side. Unevenly burned coals will distrupt the heat management and are not good for your health.
At the start, I put two inside the kaloud and one on the side like this:
Then, I wait. In this method it takes around 10 minutes to heat the Fortuna.
You can check if it is heated properly by touching the bowl at the bottom and slowly moving your finger up until you reach the point where the bottom of tobacco den should be. If it is warm, you can start smoking.
At the beginning, draw two or three times and check the smoke.
If it fits you, take one charcoal off and put it on the tray - we will be using it later.
The whole point of putting three coals initially is to make Fortuna absorb the heat and then just keep retaining it with two coals. This way you will get a nice smoke without burning your tobacco. Fortuna’s insane thermal capacity is a thing to consider – if you overheat the bowl, it is difficult to cool it down quickly, so keeping three coals inside the whole time can lead to harsh, burned taste which we want to avoid at all costs.
Now, you are good to go. This setup should last for about 30-40 minutes.
The moment you feel the smoke fading down a bit, it is time to use this third coal we left before. At this point in time the other two should be at about two-thirds of what they were initially, so you can put all three inside and extend your session.
Of course, have in mind that different tobacco brands have different tendencies for overheating and it may turn out that your tobacco will taste perfect with having three coals on all the time, but generally it is better to start with thinner smoke and be able to thicken it, instead of burning it too quickly and having all the tobacco go to waste, therefore I highly encourage you to start it slow.
USING THE OLLA CLAY HMD
When using the OllaBowls HMD, your packing method should be exactly like described before, but the tobacco should not be touching the HMD.
The most important difference is however the heat-management part.
Prepare three 26mm cubes and put them inside. Spread them out as close to the walls as possible, yet make sure they don’t touch the walls as we want the wall-side of the charcoal to burn.
If you put them too closely to the walls, there is a risk that one side will go black, reducing the temperature.
Here is an example how it should be done:
The important thing is not to put the charcoals in a middle.
If you do so, more heat will go down vertically to the bottom of the HMD, making a risk of burning the part of the tobacco that is closer to the phunnel hole and underheating the part that sticks to the walls of the bowl. Instead, you should aim to heat the walls of the bowl, that is why spreading the coals is so important. Obviously, each tobacco has a different heat resistance, that is why some of them may not overheat even with three coals in the middle. Me personally, I always spread them out, no matter which tobacco I use.
As for the lid, do not close it at first. It is meant to be a heat retainer when your smoke starts fading a bit so you can close it and increase the temperature inside the HMD in order to get some extra minutes of a dense smoke.
That is all for today, I hope that this guide will help you maximize the potential of your Fortuna. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will answer them.
OllaBowls Team wishes you a nice smoke!