What Is A Hookah - OxideHookah.com

What Is Hookah?

What is hookah you ask? A hookah is a water pipe designed to smoke sweetened & flavoured tobacco or herbal molasses. The origin is from the Middle Eastern and Persian peninsula that dates back decades where smoking the 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 a hookah-pipe is as we know it today is very popular in modern culture and is smoked in social scenes such as cafes, bars & clubs. The tobacco used which is commonly known as shisha now includes a variety of different flavours for each individuals liking. The most common flavours of sheesha tobacco smoked globally are Double Apple & Grape. There are various brands from different regions of the world that manufacture different flavours.


It 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 smoke is generated by baking of the flavour by using lit coal 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

Below are the following terms by origin.

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

Is Hookah Smoke Or Vapor?

It does not create the same smoke as cigarettes & marijuana do. Although we refer to the substance being exhaled as smoke, the 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 smoking. The substance we consider as smoke is actually vaporized glycerin. The difference of the smoke that is created between hookah & cigarettes is the actual process in which the tobacco is heated. Cigarettes are completely combusted, smoked and ashed rather than the pipe tobacco which is baked, vaporized and disposed of. 

Hookah VS Shisha

Hookah is the actual apparatus or item that is used to smoke tobacco. Shisha is the substance that is smoked and is usually the flavoured tobacco or fruit molasses.  

Hookah Effects

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

When smoking, it is very important to understand the side-effects that maybe associated with usage. Some claim that the advantages of the 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 and the most noticeable benefits is that it contains less additives in the manufacturing of flavours compared to cigarettes. 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.

Hookah Side Effects

  • Headaches: Commonly, headaches when smoking shisha will occur when one is dehydrated  
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: C02 poisoning can occur when 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 hookahs to cigarettes, there aren't really any solid studies that show if it is in fact more or less harmful than a cigarette. We all know that smoking is an unhealthy vice but is it healthier? From what we understand based on our general knowledge, tobacco for shisha is generally a handmade product which includes less additives than a cigarette. The substance is commonly made up of four components which include natural raw tobacco, glycerin, food flavouring & honey. However cigarettes contain 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 in comparison of 1 hookah = how many cigarettes but there is little knowledge or study to back up these claims. 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 of what you smoke.

Commonly Asked Questions

Is Hookah Addictive?

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

Does Hookah Get You High?

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

Is Hookah Smoke Or Vapor?

As mentioned previously, the components produces vapor from glycerin rather than smoke. The tobacco is not combusted.

What Is a Hookah Bar?

They are establishments where people smoke and enjoy shisha flavours. Pipes are served at these cafes or bars and generally have their own house blends, mixes or recipes. Foods and beverages are also served at these locations alongside your order.

Is Hookah Harmful?

Like many other vices, it can be harmful. Smoking is linked to lung cancer. Be cautious when smoking as some products may contain nicotine. Consult with your doctor if you have any health issues. If prepared incorrectly, the practice can be harmful when not using quality coals or natural flavouring. Carbon monoxide poisoning is commonly linked with inhaling the burnoff particles of quick light coals. 

Is Shisha A Drug?

No, it is not a drug. It is generally made up of flavoured tobacco or herbal molasses. You will not get high when inhaling, however if you are sensitive to nicotine, you may feel a slight head rush when smoking. 

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