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Shishapedia - A buying guide to Hookahs

Updated on November 24, 2011

Shishapedia – A buying guide to Hookahs

So you have decided to buy your own Hookah pipe. For months now you have been going to that little Shisha café on the corner, or visiting your friends house who happens to own one a little too often; and you realise it’s time to consider investing in your own.

PLEASE NOTE: Hookah Pipes should only ever be used to smoke Tobacco products or herbal molasses. Drugs should never be smoked, especially through a hookah pipe.

Why should I buy my own Hookah

If you smoke more than just occasionally with friends when you are out and about, chances are you really enjoy it. If it’s something you enjoy doing why not do it from the comfort of your own home?

The first thing to do is double check the rules about smoking where you live. You don’t want to ruin your rental agreement by bringing a Shisha into the home. If it doesn’t look good, don’t give up; remember there is always the garden! Of course if you live in a country that rains heavily or expects a downfall of feet of snow every night it might be a little more complicated! If you live in flats, use your balcony.

If there is no issue with where you are going to smoke I would remember three main things. Firstly smoking is bad for you. It’s a fact you have to accept; and if you smoke at home, you are likely to do it more often.

Secondly consider the cost. Buying a Shisha, and everything you need to go with it (e.g. Charcoal, Flavour, Foil, Tongs) will cost you between £50 and £500. All depending on how much you want to invest, and if you are after something really fancy.

On average a basic home setup that will keep you happy will be around £120.

How did I get this cost?
£60 for a Hookah
£10 for 100 charcoals
£10 for accessories (Foil, Tongs etc)
£40 for 1kg of Shisha molasses

Now with 1kg of tobacco you can make around 30 / 40 shishas. If you were to go out and do that many shishas in the UK that would cost you around £10 a shisha.

So from your first investment you have already saved between £180 and £280 pounds. After that the savings will only increase as you don’t have to factor in the price of the Hookah pipe again. You will have to buy more charcoal and more shisha molasses, but these costs are not that high. In fact it is cheaper than buying cigarettes.

My third recommendation for smoking at home is your personal health. When you go out to a café, or to a friend’s house there is no way of knowing who has shared the same pipe or pot with you before. Now this may not worry you, but it really should! If the person who used the pipe last had a cold or cough the chances are high you will get one. Remember you are putting the same thing in your mouth that they did! I would recommend if you are out always use a mouth tip or ask the café to put fresh foil around the hose tip to minimise this problem. If you smoke your own pipe from home there is nothing to worry about as you know who has been using it!

Different size Hookahs
Different size Hookahs

Which Hookah Pipe to buy?

When choosing a hookah pipe there are many factors you have to consider. Firstly you should evaluate why you want a hookah and what you want to use it for and where you want to use it for.

If you are going to only keep your hookah in one place you can get something as elaborate as you like (although it has to be practical!) but if you plan on moving around get something that is easy to move. Many hookahs nowadays are available that break into several pieces so they are easy to transport safely. In my personal experience I would say hookahs that are in a single piece (for the pipe) usually are easier to clean and maintain and often smoke better.

Are you planning on having friends over all the time? Are other people going to be using your hookah without you there? If so you probably want something that is more robust, and less likely to get damage. You can get hookahs which are more plastic then glass based; so they are much harder to damage. Personally I would stick to glass; but if you do try to get one with a “standard” glass base size so you can replace it if needed. The hose and the clay head are all uniformed size anyway so they can be easily replaced.

How much space do you have is always a big concern. The less space you have the more likely you are to go for a smaller hookah. Many people will tell you that a bigger hookah will always smoke better; but with a bigger hookah you are going to need more charcoal on top. Using two pieces of coal instead of one will cost you double on your charcoal bills! In reality there is not too much difference with the quality of smoke from different size hookahs because they all tend to work in the same way. Be warned though that the smaller mini hookahs will often smoke a lot less than regular size hookahs. I would recommend getting a hookah with a height of between 18 and 36 inches. Anything larger will often be very ornamental and lavish; and less practical for daily usage.

Multiple hose Hookah
Multiple hose Hookah

How many hoses should your new hookah have is a very popular question. Hookahs were designed to have only one hose; but you can get ones with up to six hoses. If you plan on having friends over all the time and would like to have a hose each a multiple hose hookah could be something to think about. The more hoses you have, the price goes up. A single hose hookah is always going to work but having a multiple hose hookah does have some issues; mainly auto sealing. If you have a two hose hookah and somebody is smoking from one hose they will not get any smoke unless the other hose is also being smoked or the end of the other hose is blocked. This is because when you suck through one hose you will just pull the lightest component, air flowing through the other hose. The smoke in the chamber will not get pulled into your hose if there is a lighter component, available to be pulled. Older multiple hose hookahs all suffered from this issue, and you would have to all smoke from all hoses at once to get any smoke at all. This is fine if there are always enough people to smoke from each hose, but if you want to smoke on your own you will have to find a way of pulling multiple hoses or blocking the other ends while you smoke. More modern day multiple hose hookahs include an auto seal. This essentially is a ball bearing for each hose. When sucking on the hose you will dislodge the ball bearing allowing smoke to pass through, but when left alone the ball bearing will block the air through the pipe. If you are getting a multiple hose Hookah please ensure you get one with an auto seal, than you don’t have to worry about finding enough smokers every time you want to smoke.

Hookah Ice chamber
Hookah Ice chamber

Some hookah’s come with ice chambers built in. Essentially it is an inbuilt bucket that sits under the tray near the head of the Hookah pipe. It doesn’t have to be used every time, but keeping ice inside the chamber will keep your pipe cool and make the smoke a lot cooler. It is most definitely a more pleasant experience.

When buying a hookah look out for beginner packages. Often you will find a great deal for new smokers. These will usually include a hookah (pipe, base, hose, head and tongs), some shisha molasses and some charcoal. Smoking shisha can become expensive, and remember there is a lit piece of charcoal on the top, so it can be a real fire risk. Be careful, and enjoy responsibly.


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