How to Smoke Shisha
The Basics of Smoking Shisha
Shisha, widely known as a hookah in many parts of the Middle East and the rest of the world, is a vaporizing instrument used to smoke tobacco or tobacco infused with flavors, aromas, and/or herbs. It also has other names, but it’s basically a water pipe that enables the smoking of a mixture of tobacco, flavorings, and/or molasses sugar.
The First Hookah
The first hookah was said to have originated in Persia in the 16th century, as a way to purify the smoke that comes from tobacco. Through the years, the instrument made its way to neighboring countries where it became part of the tradition and a popular social activity for many Middle Eastern cultures. Today, these instruments can be found all over the world, and are becoming more and more popular in North America and the U.K.
Traditional hookahs are intricately made, while modern hookahs today come in different designs and sizes in different materials. But how do you really use it to smoke tobacco? How is it different from cigarette tobacco? Here’s what you need to knowBefore you start smoking shisha, you need to know how the instrument works. For that, you have to learn the different parts of the water pipe.
The Parts of a Hookah
The water pipe is made up of five basic parts: the bowl, tray, centerpiece, vase, and the hose.
• Bowl – This is the top part of the hookah. It holds the shisha tobacco along with the hot burning coals. This can be made up of different materials, such as clay, ceramic, porcelain, or Pyrex. The most common is steel.
• Tray – Found beneath the whole setup is the tray, which catches any loose ash that falls from the burning coal and the tobacco.
The heat from the burning coal burns the tobacco. Air is sucked through the hose, bringing the smoke down to the main shaft.
• Centerpiece – This is what holds all the parts together and is often referred to as the heart of the instrument. This is also where some of the intricate designs are applied, and it can be made up of aluminum, brass, copper, or stainless steel.
• Vase – This is the water chamber. The smoke will go down to the stem and enter the glass base and through the water. The water will cool down and filter the smoke before moving to the hose, preventing the smoke from getting too hot quickly. This is usually made up of glass or acrylic.
• Hose – This is the tube in which the filtered and cooled smoke travels through before it gets inhaled by the smoker. It can be washable or non-washable, usually made up of silicone or plastic.
The goal for beginners is to be able to equip themselves with a hookah setup that has all the basic items they would need. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just the bare minimum to have a good time. Your basic kit as a hookah beginner should include a hookah (of course), coal (one box), tobacco (100 grams), and an electric coal burner.
All this equipment should cost around $150 more or less. You can go on to expand your collection and get more expensive products as you gain more knowledge and experience.
The Shisha Tobacco
Shisha refers to the aromatic and flavored tobacco used for hookahs but the word is also used to refer to the whole hookah equipment. The most popular flavors are apple, grape, rose, mint, lemon, and watermelon. Generally, the tobaccos used for the hookah are blended with molasses, honey, or glycerin, along with fruity extracts for aromatic and flavoring purposes.
Regular smokers experiment with different flavors, and many shisha shops offer combinations of different aromas and unique flavors. Some often mix their tobacco with different herbs.
Though the idea of smoking shisha is quite straightforward, it can be daunting for first-timers and beginners to smoke on their own. Indeed, smoking shisha requires techniques that beginners need to get used to.
What to Expect in Your First Shisha Session
Most people get their first hookah experience at cocktail bars and hookah lounges. For a satisfying session, you should smoke for an hour or two.
Most hookah lounges will offer you a menu of shisha flavors to choose from. Once you have chosen your shisha, it will be placed on the foil. Using his/her own disposable mouthpiece, the staff member will take the first couple of draws to get the smoke started. You will be provided with your own individual disposable mouthpieces and a pair of coal tweezers to share.
You may feel light-headed after your first shisha session. Don’t worry, that’s completely normal. After that feeling, you will feel a deep sense of relaxation.
How to Smoke Shisha at Home
Should you decide to get yourself your own hookah set, and possibly host your own hookah parties, it is important that you know how the whole thing works and how to prepare it safely. Here are some of the basics of how to smoke shisha.
Prep the hookah
Clean it first and after use.
First, you need to clean the instrument before your first use (it’s also advisable to clean it after each smoking session to keep off-flavors out of the smoke). Use soapy water to wash all the components, except the hose, as it may accumulate rust or rot when it gets wet.
For the glass, you can use warm or cold water. Never use hot water, as it may crack the glass
Next, check the vase and take note of where the stem ends. Remove the shaft and pour cold water into the base. When putting it back together, the stem should be one inch below the water’s surface. Leave a layer of air at the top of the hookah. If there’s too much water, moisture can get pulled into the hoses and ruin them.
Put back the shaft into the base and the hoses into the holes at the side of the shaft. Each connection should have a silicone or rubber “grommet” to keep everything airtight. Make sure you test the connection between the top of the shaft and the bowl. For now, you can remove the bowl.
Attach the hoses even if you’re only going to use one, as this will guarantee the shaft is sealed
Place one hand on top of the shaft to blow the entire hole. Take one hose and inhale through it. If you can feel more than a trickle, then there may be a leak somewhere. Make sure you check all the connections.
• For grommets that don’t fit tightly, wet them and reconnect them again.
• If the connection in the vase and shaft is not airtight, use masking tape at the point of connection. Add layers of tape until it fits tight. Make sure it’s not too tight, though.
• If some connections won’t fit tight, you can use moist paper towels or aluminum foils. When using the former for the hoses, make sure you dry them after use.
By knowing how to use the hookah, which shisha flavors to try, and how to keep your equipment clean – you can continue to enjoy relaxing shisha smoking sessions.