What Is A Hookah?

What is hookah you ask? A hookah is a water pipe designed to smoke sweetened & flavoured tobacco or herbal molasses. The hookah pipe has an origin from the Middle Eastern and Persian peninsula that dates back decades where smoking a hookah apparatus was considered as a sign of higher status. Dried and natural tobacco was commonly used up till the early 1900's where flavouring and molasses was introduced as an ingredient. What is a hookah pipe as we know it today is very popular in modern culture and is smoked in social scenes such as cafes, bars & clubs. Hookah tobacco commonly known as shisha now includes a variety of different flavours for each individuals liking. The most common flavours of shisha tobacco smoked globally are Double Apple & Grape shisha tobacco. There are various brands from different regions of the world that manufacture flavours for hookah tobacco smoking.

Hookah

A hookah ( hukka, huqqa, hooka, wasserpfeifen narguile, argili, nargili, shisha pipe, شيشة, قلیان ) is a single-stem instrument that is used for smoking or vaporizing flavoured tobacco (often known as hookah flavors, hookah tobacco, shisha tobacco, mu'assel, tombak), herbal molasses or fermented fruit. The production of hookah smoke is generated by baking of the shisha flavour by using lit hookah coals as a heat source, which then produces vapor that passes through a metal stem and is then filtered through water in a water basin or glass base before inhalation. 

Hookah Terms By Origin

What is hookah smoking known today is popular in various countries around the globe. The hobby continues to spread and is known in different terms by region. Below are the following terms of hookah by origin.

  • Middle East & Eastern Asia - Argilee, Argile, Narghile, Narguile, Nargile, Shisha, Sheesha, الشيشة, ارجيلة
  • South East Asia -  Huqqo, ‘haqqa, Jajeer, Hitboo
  • Spain, South & Central America - Cachimba
  • Eastern Europe & Russia - Qalyān, Kalyan
  • North America, UK & Australia - Hookah, Huka, Hooka, Hookah Bong, Water Pipe

Is Hookah Smoke Or Vapor?

Hookah does not create the same smoke as cigarettes & marijuana do. Although we refer to the substance being exhaled as smoke, hookah flavours are not combusted when being inhaled. Shisha tobacco is generally baked so that its contents that have been fermented within the tobacco vaporizes when heated which is then inhaled through the process of hookah smoking. The substance we consider as shisha smoke is actually vaporized glycerin. The difference of smoke created between hookah VS cigarettes is the actual process in which the tobacco is heated. Cigarettes are completely combusted, smoked and ashed rather than hookah tobacco which is baked, vaporized and disposed of. 

Components & Operation Of A Hookah Set

The various components of a hookah set are each important in order to use the smoking apparatus properly. Below we will discuss each hookah component that is included within a complete hookah set.

Hookah Part Components

The following shisha pipe components are what make a complete hookah set functional for operation.

Bowl

The bowl (also referred to as hookah head or shisha head) is a major component which allows the proper function and smoke production of a shisha session from a hookah. It is the carrier of the hookah tobacco or hookah flavors and is also the heat insulator that helps bake the shisha to create vapour smoke. Packing bowl methods will generally determine the outcome of the flavour when inhaling. Tinfoil or a hookah heat manager (see below) is respectively wrapped or place on top of the bowl to act as a conductor of heat.

HMD (Hookah Heat Management Device)

An HMD also referred to as HMS (Heat management system) is a new modern instrument for hookahs in the 21st century. The HMD is generally a metal component that is placed on top of the bowl to conduct and transfer heat in order to generate hookah smoke from the flavouring. The transfer of heat from HMD to bowl is done by inserting lit hookah coals into the device allowing the warmth to bake shisha substance. The HMD includes vents or openings to allow the transfer to occur between the two components.

Charcoal

Hookah charcoal is the heat source used to bake shisha and smoke. Hookah coals come in a variation of sizes (extra-large, large, small, mini) and shapes (cubes, flats, quarter circles) and are produced by various manufacturers. Charcoal is lit using a lighter or a mechanical heat source such as a stove or single burner. Hookah charcoals are also either produced out of natural coconut organic material or out of combustible chemicals. The two variations are respectively named as natural coconut coals or quick lights coals. Hookah charcoal must be completely lit till amber for proper use and the total release of carbon monoxide. Charcoal for hookah is placed either directly on top of tinfoil which is wrapped and poked onto the bowl or inserted in an hookah HMD for the proper transfer or conduction of heat.

Charcoal Tray

The coal tray is an ash-tray that sits beneath the hookah bowl. The hookah coal tray is placed onto the stem of shaft of the hookah (see below) set to prevent charcoal from falling or being misplaced onto other surfaces. The coal tray is also used to ash coals during a smoke session. 

Stem

The stem of the hookah is the main component that generates smoke from shisha tobacco. Its sole purpose is to transfer smoke vapor from the hookah bowl, which is the carrier of the shisha substance; to the end-user or smoker of the hookah pipe. Initial transfer of smoke starts from the bowl once heated and moves its way downwards in a hookah water basin (hookah base). Once the smoke has transferred into the base of the hookah, upon inhalation of the user, the smoke will transfer through a hose port within the chamber of the stem.

Base

The bottom section of what is a hookah is called the base or basin. The hookah base contains water to help filter the shisha smoke that is produced from the bowl and transferred from the stem. The base is also the carrier of the hookah shaft and maintains the balance of the pipe. The shaft sits directly into the glass hookah base and are attached together using a rubber or silicone gasket.

Hose

The hookah hose is the component which is utilized by the end user when inhaling hookah. The hose contains three sections in which helps the individual smoke shisha. The first part of the hose is the hose adaptor in which is inserted directly into the hose chamber of the stem. This piece is also held together using a silicone hose gasket. The gasket keeps the hose from being removed and seals the attached hose adaptor preventing any air leakage. The second section of the hose is the body of the accessory which is the tubing that allows transfer of the smoke when inhaling. The third section of the hose is the mouthpiece which is the direct piece of contact with the smoker when inhaling.

Tongs

Hookah charcoal tongs are utilized for carrying and transferring and adjusting cooked or lit hookah coals. They are generally manufactured our of stainless steel or aluminum. A simple product that is included with a shisha set for maintaining heat throughout smoking hookah. Hookah coals are also used for ashing coals throughout the duration of smoking shisha.

Base Protector

Manufactured out of silicone, the base protector is an accessory that is attached to the bottom of a glass shisha base. Due to the nature that most hookah glass bases are mouth blown, some may have an imbalance and can disrupt a session by moving. The base protector balances out the weight of the entire hookah set and also protects the glass from breakage.

Hookah Water Pipe Setup

  1. Pack the hookah bowl with shisha 
  2. Wrap your shisha bowl with tin foil & poke holes
  3. Add water to your hookah base
  4. Assemble the hookah pipe stem onto the water base
  5. Assemble bowl on the hookah stem
  6. Light up hookah coals and add on the packed shisha bowl
  7. Insert hose to hookah stem

Hookah Effects

Hookah smoking is common in social gatherings these days but what exactly are the effects of smoking a hookah bong? Well to make it short, hookah doesn't really have any major effects that will alter or distort you immediately unlike other social vices such as drinking or smoking marijuana. When it comes to smoking hookah, you might get a bit of a buzz from nicotine if the shisha you are using is includes it. By no means is hookah a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes however, just a bit more enjoyable. Smoking shisha can cause headaches if either the hookah water pipe being served is not prepared properly or if the the individual is not hydrated and has not eaten prior to smoking shisha. It is recommended that prior and during your smokes session that you snack on light foods and drink enough water. Another effect that hookah may have on you is if the charcoals are not properly lit which may cause C02 poisoning. Your hookah coals should always be lit completely till the point that they are amber in order to use a hookah properly. To learn more about preventing hookah sickness read our blog post on avoiding hookah sickness.

When smoking hookah, it is very important to understand the side-affects that maybe associated with usage. Some claim that the advantages of hookah use is  safer than smoking cigarettes. Presently, there has been no such study that equally represents results that claim so. Separate studies have been researched on each substance (hookah vs cigarettes) and the most noticeable benefits of hookah-use is less additives being added into manufacturing hookah flavoured tobacco compared to cigarettes. Many have tried to compare things like 1 hookah = how many cigarettes, but in reality these two cannot be compared in a sense as they both are manufactured and smoked differently. Directly combusting tobacco and baking it are not identical in the way of use. Below are a few side-effects that may be associated with nargile smoking.

Side Effects Of Hookah Smoking

  • Headaches: Commonly, headaches when smoking shisha will occur when one is dehydrated  
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: C02 poisoning can occur when one hookah charcoals have not been properly or completely lit. 
  • Nausea: Occurs when one has not eaten a prior to smoking

Hookah Vs Cigarettes

When it comes to comparing hookah smoking to cigarettes, there aren't really any solid studies that show if hookah is in fact more or less harmful than a cigarette. We all know that smoking is an unhealthy vice whether it be hookah or a cigarette but is hookah smoking healthier? From what we understand based on our general knowledge, hookah tobacco or shisha is generally a hand made product which includes less additives than a cigarette for instance. Hookah tobacco is commonly made up of four components which include natural raw tobacco, glycerin, food flavouring & honey. However in cigarettes there are close to 7000 chemicals that are combusted when smoking in which 69 of these are chemicals are linked to causing cancer. There have been arguments that have been made to where a comparison of  "1 hookah = how many cigarettes" but there is little knowledge or study to back up these claims. Hookah shisha is not combusted like a cigarette but is rather baked and filtered through water. To keep things simple, a little too much of anything is never great and we recommend you moderate smoking regardless whether it be cigarettes or hookah. Stay safe.

Commonly Asked Questions About Hookah

Is Hookah Addictive?

When it comes down to the amounts of additives included in hookah flavoured tobacco, one can say that hookah is not addictive. However each individual acts in different manners and can become addicted to hookah just like any other social vice. When smoking hookah, it should be taken in moderation balanced with a healthy lifestyle. Do not overdue it. 

Does Hookah Get You High?

No. Hookah does not get you high. Unless you are adding other substances to the hookah flavouring, shisha will not get you high or alter your consciousness.

Is Hookah Smoke Or Vapor?

As mentioned previously, hookah pipe produces vapor from glycerin rather than smoke. Hookah tobacco is not combusted.

What Is a Hookah Bar?

An establishment for smoking hookah indoors is call a hookah bar or hookah lounge.

Is Flavoured Hookah Harmful?

Flavoured hookah is not as harmful as other tobacco products. The ingredients for hookah tobacco are simple and include honey, molasses, glycerin & food flavouring.

Popular Hookah Brands

In todays modern world, hookah has become extremely popular through mainstream media. There are even hookah bars songs written about the apparatus. With the trend being spread so vast, plenty of major hookah brands have developed over the past decade. Hookah accessories and hookah for sale are now  widely available online.  Products for shisha smoking are being produced in mass amounts on a daily basis. Below are some popular hookah brands that are globally renowned and available at this hookah shop. 

Well-Known Shisha Brands 

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