Getting Started with Hookahs

Hookah is quickly gaining popularity as a unique alternative to cigarettes and cigars. So, what is it? Contrary to popular belief, hookah isn’t typically a method for delivering drugs to a system, or a device only for high society. In reality, a hookah is most often used to share a social smoke with a group of friends.

A hookah consists of a plastic or glass vase, partially filled with water, with a long metal cylinder (called a stem) screwed into its top. A valve on the side of the bowl connects a hose, usually wrapped in leather with a mouthpiece at the end. The metal cylinder is topped by a bowl, usually made of clay or glass, which holds the tobacco, called shisha. The top of this bowl is wrapped in a sheet of foil with several holes poked in it. A hot coal is set atop the foil. The smoker pulls air through the hose, which brings air over the coals, through the foil, and into the shisha-filled bowl. The heated air ignites the shisha. The smoke from the shisha is pulled into the vase, then through the water and into the hose. The water serves to cool the smoke, making it much easier to inhale and exhale, with much less roughness to the throat.

There are several tricks which can be utilized to get the highest quality, most pleasant smoke from a hookah. The first and most obvious is to alter the temperature of the water in the vase. Naturally, colder water will produce cooler smoke. The best way to achieve this is to use a heavy concentration of crushed ice in cold water. This will provide the quickest and most efficient cooling of the smoke. In addition, other liquids can be used in the vase to enhance the flavor of the shisha. For example, filling the vase with coca cola and using cold-flavored shisha will add an additional amount of flavor to the smoke. As with the water in the vase, cooling the other parts of the hookah also help to cool the smoke drawn from it. For example, putting the metal stem in a freezer for several minutes will help to cool the smoke. The hose can also be placed in the freezer to decrease the temperature of the smoke being pulled through it. Stock shisha can have some excellent flavors, like wedding cake, Orange Julius, and pomegranate, but that shouldn’t lead to a hesitation to combine your own flavors. Mixing vanilla with cola, mint with chocolate, or even pomegranate with margarita can give very enjoyable smoking experiences.

That’s about the long and short of it. Happy smoking!

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