Much like cannabis, hookahs have long been associated with smoking, socializing, and counter-culture—but can you smoke weed out of a hookah? The answer is yes, you certainly can, but there are a few important factors to consider first. We’ll discuss everything you need to know about how to smoke weed out of a hookah so you can make the most of your experience.
What is a Hookah?
A hookah is a water pipe typically used for smoking tobacco (often flavored tobacco known as shisha) or cannabis. Rather than using a lighter or torch to directly combust the plant material like you would with a bong, hookahs work by heating coals and placing them above a bowl filled with the plant matter. Inhaling from the mouthpiece of the hose draws the heat from the coals over the bowl. This causes the plant resins to vaporize, producing a smoke that is inhaled by the user.
The name “hookah” is of Hindustani origin and there are multiple theories regarding how this storied smoking tradition developed. Some believe the hookah was invented by a Persian physician in India during the time of the Mughal Empire, while others believe it originated in Persia during the Safavid dynasty.
Hookahs are characterized by their intricate designs which include one or multiple hoses and a water reservoir. Most traditional hookahs have the following components:
Bowl: Similar to the bowl head found in a bong, but typically larger, this is where you pack the shisha or herbs.
Windscreen: Many modern hookah users use perforated tin foil, but some hookahs come fitted with specially-designed windscreens. This component suspends coals above the shisha allowing them to heat but not burn the herbs.
Plate: The plate lies below the bowl and windscreen and serves to catch any fallen ash from the coals.
Water base: The vase-shaped main structure (known as the base or basin) is filled with water which cools the smoke and filters out some of the impurities.
Hose: A long flexible tube connects to the stem of the hookah on one end and to the mouthpiece on the other end.
Purge valve: This valve is an opening which allows you to blow stale smoke out of the water chamber.
Can you Smoke Weed from a Hookah?
Absolutely! Smoking hookah loaded with cannabis is a well-loved pastime and is especially popular when among groups of friends. Like all cannabis consumption methods, they’re both benefits and drawbacks to smoking weed out of a hookah.
One benefit is taste: combining cannabis with flavored shisha can add pleasant layers of flavor that will enhance the smoking experience. A hookah with multiple hoses is also great for sharing. Unlike other types of water pipes, multi-stem hookahs can be utilized by more than one person at a time.
When considering smoking weed out of a hookah, it’s imperative you are aware of some of the limitations of this method. For one, tending a hookah is somewhat of a delicate dance. Making sure the coals are properly lit and maintaining optimal temperature is important for the quality of the experience, and it can take multiple sessions to master. Without proper technique, you could be wasting cannabis.
Hookahs are also not as readily available or convenient compared to other smoking devices. While you can usually find a hand pipe or a small bong or bubbler at a head shop or even a convenience store, finding a quality hookah is more difficult. They also tend to be bulkier and have more moving components than other smoking implements, which makes them less convenient for taking on the go.
Another important consideration is the use of tobacco products. Tobacco forms the base of shisha. It contains carcinogenic ingredients and nicotine, which has shown to be addictive. If you tend to avoid tobacco, you may want to stay away from hookahs or opt for tobacco-free herbal shisha.
How to Smoke Weed Using a Hookah
What you’ll need:
- Windscreen or Aluminum Foil
- Coals (opt for natural when possible)
- Heat Resistant Tongs
Step 1: Clean Thoroughly
A clean hookah is imperative. Even if your hookah is brand new, give it a rinse to remove dust or other unwanted particles. It is especially important to clean a used hookah as leftover residue will impact the taste of your smoke.
Step 2: Fill the Water Reservoir
Remove the stem of the hookah and fill the base about ⅓ of the way with water. Too much water will make it difficult to take a pull from your hose. Some choose a combination of water and ice for a cooler twist. Replace the stem and make sure it is securely connected.
Step 3: Check the Hoses
Insert the hoses into their respective openings and check the connection. A leaky hose can ruin your experience. Before lighting, bring the mouthpiece to your lips and inhale. If the draw is difficult, remove some of the water from the basin.
Step 4: Fill the Bowl
Hookah smokers rarely fill the entire bowl with cannabis. The glycerin or molasses used to create shisha helps to slow down the rate at which the plant matter heats up and ultimately becomes spent. Loosely fill the bowl with a small layer of the shisha of your choice, then add your desired amount of cannabis. Fill the remainder of the bowl with more loosely-packed shisha. Avoid pressing down too hard, which can restrict air flow.
Step 5: Cover the Bowl
If using a manufactured windscreen, simply fit it on top. If you’re creating your own windscreen using aluminum foil, wrap a small piece of foil over the entire opening of the bowl. Use a pen or other sharp object to poke small holes into the top of the foil to allow for airflow. Place the covered bowl above the plate on the hookah.
Step 6: Light the Coals
Use a dab torch or other strong flame to ignite the coals on a heat resistant surface. When the coals cease to emit sparks and take on a red-orange glow, they are ready to use. Use your metal tongs to place them on top of the foil or windscreen. Place as many coals as will cover the top of the bowl without blocking air flow.
Step 7: Allow the Coals to Heat the Bowl
Wait 3 to 4 minutes to allow the hot coals to begin to heat up the shisha and cannabis. After this time, take a pull from the mouthpiece. If the smoke is weak and lacks flavor, wait a little longer. If the hookah smoke tastes burnt, remove a few coals to cool the bowl down slightly.
Step 8: Smoke Away
Enjoy long, slow draws from your hookah until the flavor diminishes. If you’re sharing with friends, remember to use your own mouthpiece to avoid the spread of pathogens.