A breakdown of Heat Management Devices
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Masonshishaware blog! Today I’ll be covering something very near and dear to my heart and hookah; Heat Management Devices. In case you aren’t up to speed on current events in the hookah industry, Heat Management Devices (better known as HMDs) have absolutely took the hookah scene by storm in the last five years. In the most basic definition HMDs seek to remedy quite possibly the biggest problem hookah users face during the early part of their participation; heat management. These devices are designed to replace the traditional aluminum foil setup and provide even heating across the entire bowl instead of hot spots where the charcoal would normally be placed. Thus far there are four contenders on the market that are all widely accepted as the go-to HMDs these are the Kaloud Lotus, MIG Razor, Oduman Ignis, and Shishabucks Stratus.
Where it all began
It’s only proper to start at the beginning, which brings us all the way back to the Kaloud Lotus. The Lotus was revolutionary in the fact that we had never seen anything quite like it. To this day many still perceive it as the best HMD and production along with sales haven’t slowed down much since its birth.
The Lotus is simple yet effective which certainly accounts for its wide fan base. It features two pieces of aluminum that are held together in place by three screws and has six inlets (which are closely spaced together making it more comparable to three) that allow air to be drawn through your bowl of choice and stoke your charcoal. The inside of the Lotus is rather tight in comparison to the others I’ll be mentioning, but you can still fit the adequate amount of heat needed to bake your shisha properly. You can fit three to four flat style coals or two cube style coals comfortably, of course depending on the brand you choose.
Aside from the unit itself, when you purchase a lotus you will also receive a cover for the top. The cover allows for more heat to be forced down into the bowl and its namesake is derived from the design of this cover. When placed on top of the unit in the open position it closely resembles a lotus flower making it very aesthetically pleasing on the eyes. The cover can be either altered to a closed or open position and quite literally everywhere in between by the use of a handy silicone grip which holds up unbelievably well over time compared to others.
There is only one real con to this device which lies in the function rather than any aesthetics. This flaw that many remark about, myself included, is the fact that charcoal can lose oxygen and become blackened resulting in clouds and flavor diminishing. Kaloud has yet to go back and address this but you can certainly lessen this effect on your own by opting to go with flat coals and standing them up which has been deemed as “stonehenging” in the hookah community.
A European Vacation
With Kaloud being a U.S. based company that meant our friends across the pond and beyond were left with either facing a staggering added shipping cost or keeping it traditional and sticking with foil, admiring the advancement from afar. This is when MIG (Made in Germany) stepped up to the plate and released the Razor device which was a hit amongst the European continent.
The Razor features a somewhat similar design to the lotus but is quite different when you get down to it. Instead of the two parts of aluminum held together by screws, the Razor is made from one solid piece meaning it can never loosen over time. This material is also much thinner than the lotus resulting in a quicker heat up time. Apart from that, the Razor features six inlets from which air can travel down into your bowl that are rather small, and it also has a spacious area inside that can fit four flat style coals or three cubes easily. The inside also boasts a few rings in the center which seek to provide more airflow to the bottoms of your charcoal.
The device also comes with a top that allows more heat to be trapped inside and forced into the bowl and whereas the lotus cover relies on washers to move freely, this lid is just two pieces of metal moving freely on their own with the help of friction. Like the lotus before it, the name seems to be derived from the lid design itself. The three vents on to the top take inspiration from razor blades except these range from long to short and are crescent shapes. The handle for the lid is different than any of the others on this list as it is made from a hard plastic instead of the silicone others rely on.
Like any other product out there, this too features some issues. The main issue is restriction. Since the six channels are smaller in stature, there are times that the draw can be heavily affected. Some packing adjustments can be done to help counteract this but for the most part this flaw is set in stone. The other flaw with this device is that over time the metal pieces making up the lid become slightly deteriorated and won’t move freely any longer.
A Turkish Delight
The next stop on the HMD journey brings us to Turkey where Oduman jumped into the HMD race with the Ignis. The Ignis is one the latest models of a HMD which take the greatest parts of the previously mentioned devices and combined them into one hell of a product.
This device is comprised of two parts of aluminum which again are held in place by three screws. What makes it different than the other two is that its walls are sheer which allows for some serious room inside, if you really wanted to you could probably get away with placing five or maybe even six flat style coals inside for those thug life sessions. While I don’t advise doing anything of the sort, that comes as a nice piece of mind that you will always be able to adequately heat up your tobacco. The inside also features six vents that air can travel through which are all just slightly bigger than the Lotus and spaced a touch further apart as well. There are tiny nubs placed all along the bottom area of the inside of the unit that again act to provide more air to the bottom of your lit coals much like what the Razor has.
This device also comes with a lid that is comprised of two pieces that move with the help of washers. The lid is designed with three air inlets that are fin shaped and do provide a small range of heat control. However, where the other lids of HMDs flourish this is ultimately the downfall of the Ignis which brings us to the flaws.
There are a few big concerns that should be addressed by Oduman sooner than later and while they don’t detriment the product too much they should certainly be taken into consideration before using or purchasing one of these. The biggest flaw lies in the lid. When closed fully, the air flow is completely shut off to the coals rendering them nearly useless. This can be a good thing in the sense that you can finish a session abruptly and not have to worry about disposing of hot coals. The other flaw with the lid is that the plastic type of grip often becomes brittle and deteriorates to the point that it falls off completely leaving you to get creative with finding a replacement. Lastly the inside of the unit can be a little too spacious meaning flat style coals are spent far quicker than with other devices.
The best thing since Canadian bacon
Our HMD journey ends in Canada and rightfully so at that. The company Shishabucks, for the foreseeable future, has destroyed the competition with their version of a HMD dubbed the Stratus. The Stratus is a work of art and is technological mastery. Having nearly nothing in common with the others mentioned other than materials used and the concept of what an HMD is, this product outshines the others in more ways than one.
The Stratus is one solid chunk of aluminum that makes up the core of said device. However instead of fully encompassed walls, Shishabucks has sought to remove them and go with quarter circles which allow for far more heat control than previous devices. The inside of this device takes some inspiration from the Razor in the latest version and incorporates the same style of raised rings that allow for more air to reach the bottom of your charcoal. The Stratus also breaks the norm of air inlets and features 18 holes that range from toothpick sized to nearly fork pronged size. The inside of this device is fairly large as well so finding the adequate heat for a session will come as a breeze.
The lid of this device is also quite unique to the others available. It features four inlets the not only control heat from the top but from the sides as well. Like most of the others on the list the handle is comprised of high quality silicone. This silicone is much thicker than the others and has two prongs that reach into the material as opposed to the one which has been the standard up to this point. The lid also has a locking mechanism which can act to save your floors or prevent forest fires in the case of clumsiness around a hookah which result in sending the HMD flying.
This is the part where the flaws would come into play. However, since Shishabucks is very invested in the community, all the previous flaws this product had are already addressed with their latest version. Go Shishabucks!
As you can see each HMD will ultimately have strengths and flaws, and while one certainly outshines the others, it’s important to note that these devices work and work well at that. What is your favorite HMD? Or is it foil only for you? Let us know in a comment below! Thanks for reading and I hope this can answer a few questions regarding future purchases.