About Hookahs

On this page you'll find answers on the most frequently asked questions and other important information about Hookahs. The available topics are:

What is a Hookah?

Let’s start from the device you use for smoking, which consists of a smoke chamber, a bowl, a pipe and a hose. The term "Hookah" was first utilized in the Indian subcontinent where it's believed that this method of smoking was conceived. It spread out later to other neighboring countries and overseas, as India was a British colony in the 1800s. In popular parlance, a hookah is also simply called a "water pipe".

The Hookah is also widely used in the Middle East but under a different name. In countries like Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, the pipe-like device is called "Argilah" or "Argileh". Without going too deep into the history and meaning of the term Hookah, the most important thing to know is that the name directly translates to "pot / jar" and "cavity / hollow", hence why it refers to the device, not the substance you smoke with the device.

Using the Hookah for smoking tobacco gives an enchanting experience, and is considered healthier than smoking cigarettes. It might look overwhelming at first, but it’s actually very simple to use, even in the comfort of your own home.

What about the substance you put into the device?

Ready to get confused? The term "Shisha" comes from the Persian word "shīshe" which directly translates to the English word "glass". People in Egypt today still use this term to describe the water pipe instead of the substance. However, it refers only to the glass base and not the complete device.

So, what is the right name of the substance?​

If you’re shopping for flavoured tobacco to put into your hookah, you’ll find that the term Shisha is most commonly associated with the substance, not the water pipe. The main takeaway is that Hookah refers to the device, and Shisha to the tobacco that you smoke. Shisha normally contains tobacco which is usually mixed with fruit or molasses sugar. Popular flavours include apple, strawberry, mint and cola. Wood, coal or charcoal is burned in the water pipe to heat the tobacco and create the smoke.

Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion surrounding this traditional smoking method. It’s not a sin if you use the hookah and shisha terms interchangeably; however, it’s always better to use the two terms appropriately.

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