Tips: How to Smoke Hookah & About the Tobacco
Hookah Tobacco Tips: Size, Flavors and Coals
Although some may think of the hookah as an exotic gadget, these smoking apparatuses are becoming an increasingly popular in social activity throughout the US – especially among young people and college students. Whether you’re looking to recreate the experience of a lounge within your own home or upgrade your current equipment, JR Cigars details all the basics that any interested purchaser should know.
What is a Hookah?
The hookah has origins dating back centuries to India and Persia. Quite simply, it’s a water pipe used to smoke flavored or sweetened tobacco. Also referred to by such names as argileh, goza, hubble-bubble, narghile or shisha, the device has separate compartments for tobacco and water. Additionally, a hookah features flexible, exterior tubing stems through which persons can breath in the smoke. The chamber features a bowl on top that holds burning charcoal separated from the tobacco by punctured aluminum foil.
Types of Hookahs
There are many decisions to make when purchasing a hookah. These include: size, quality and price. In America, the current best-selling hookahs are those made from anodized aluminum. Despite their popularity, these inexpensive hookahs are not a great choice because they’re poorly made and have parts that break or corrode easily. Therefore, consider buying these if you’re looking to test the waters, rather than make a long-term investment.
Slightly higher in quality and price are modern (mod) hookahs with have heavy brass cores. A more traditional choice is the Egyptian hookah, which can be easily distinguished by its tall, willowy body. Egyptian hookahs are usually handmade from brass, copper or stainless steel. The larger versions of this style have wide down-stems that result in an improved draw. A Syrian hookah, on the other hand, is similar to the Egyptian, but rarer. It can be identified by its thin stem and upward angled hoseport.
Types of Bowls
Today, most hookahs come with what is called an Egyptian-style bowl. This means the hookah has a “female” bowl that fits on a male stem (the genders refer to the specific style). Egyptian bowls are generally handmade and have four or five holes in the bottom. Smaller bowls can hold 10 to 15 grams of tobacco, while larger ones can hold 25 to 30. Another type of bowl is the Syrian style, which oppositely mates a male bowl with a female stem.
Think of the Group
While a small hookah will be fine for one person, smoking is often a group activity that requires a larger model. A large hookah that measures 28 to 35 inches is ideal for a group of three to five smokers. The ability to attach multiple hoses (and mouthpieces) further accommodates multiple people, though it is not a requirement.
Types of Tobacco
The tobacco used for smoking in hookah pipes is very different from that found in cigarettes. Called shisha, this tobacco consists of only about 30% tobacco, the rest being fruit flavorings along with molasses or honey. To keep the tobacco moist, a vegetable glycerol is added.
The options for flavored tobaccos are unlimited, with choices including just about any fruit plus sweet flavors like caramel, French vanilla and honey. In fact, some of the most popular flavors are named after desserts or sweet treats like blueberry muffin, chocolate mint and ambrosia. Also popular are flavors taken from drinks, like Apple Martini, Margarita, Cognac and Cherry Cola.
To keep your hookah tobacco fresh and moist, avoid exposing it to oxygen. Most high quality shisha will be sold in airtight containers and should be stored in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. If adequately shielded, tobacco can last up to half a year.
Generally, each 100 grams of hookah tobacco will require 20 to 30 pieces of charcoal. This should be enough to smoke five or six bowls. Some stores carry quick lighting charcoal discs for extra-fast smoking, plus round or square discs. In hookah bars, the already-smoldering charcoals are dropped onto the perforated foil.
Using the Hookah
For the smoothest smoke, the bowl must be properly packed. Remove all stems from the tobacco and break it apart before sprinkling it into the bowl. The tobacco should sit just below the rim so that it does not touch the foil. Avoid this at all costs, as it can result in a harsh smoke.
Once you are seated in front of the hookah, relax and inhale deeply. This is the true hookah experience.