This is a basic guide to help you understand how to set up your hookah. The first part we discuss is the hookah base, or the vase, which is usually made of glass or acrylic. It holds the water that acts as a filter of the smoke. Fill it with water and ice, to create a soothing sensation when smoking.
The long metal part you see inside the vase is called the down stem. This part should be submerged around one inch into the water contained in the vase. If it is not submerged deep enough, then the smoke will not be cooled properly, resulting in a hot, harsh pull. This down stem, if not attached, is screwed into the shaft (called the hookah pipe), which is generally made from brass or stainless steel.
This whole piece is placed into the opening of the vase. A proper seal must be placed where the shaft meets the base, so that the smoke will not leak out. This seal is created by a rubber base grommet, which is placed around the part of the shaft that fits into the base opening.
In general, there are two parts (depending how many hoses the hookah could hold) that stick out toward the bottom part of the shaft. One is the hose adapter, and the other one is the air purge valve (or release valve). The air purge valve allows air inside the base, and can release stale smoke when you blow through the hose. There is a small ball bearing inside the purge valve. Be careful not to lose it when cleaning the hookah.
Then comes the hose adapter, which is where you insert one end of the hose, and is once again sealed tightly with a rubber grommet that is nestled inside the port. Make sure you put the correct end of the hose into the port. Take notice that it has a more distinct cone shape than the mouthpiece.
Next one is the tray, which will catch the ash and hold an extra charcoal. Once the tray is placed on the head of the shaft, screw on the bowl stem (not all hookahs have a detachable bowl stem), then place a rubber grommet on the tip. This is where the vase will go, fitting well to ensure no smoke escapes.