Trick-or-Treat Shisha Mixes

I wanted to be really kitschy and title this post "Happy Hookahleen," but reason prevailed at the last moment. So instead of a catchy title, I decided that it would be much more in keeping with the spirit of the day to offer you a treat by sharing a shisha mix recipe instead. Enjoy!

Cherry Vanilla Cola
If you're into the soda flavor, here's how to get a shisha mix that is very close in taste!
  • 2 parts Cola flavor
  • 1 part Red Cherry flavor
  • 1 part Vanilla flavor
Mix all three flavors together and let sit for at least an hour to allow them to blend together. We don't recommend any specific shisha brand -- just find the flavors from the brand that you prefer. If you are a Pepsi kind of person, Layalina's Cola will work best but if you're a Coke drinker, you'll definitely want Starbuzz's Classic Cola!

How much is that hookah in the window?

$2,000,000 -- two million dollars, that's how much! This must be some kind of special pipe, right? Surely it's made from 18K gold and covered in diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other gems if it can command such a hefty price, right? WRONG on both counts! The high-priced hookah is a stamped brass hookah with zip, zero, zilch, nada fancy on it. In fact, it's not even new -- your $2 MILLION will get you a used hookah!

If the hookah isn't made of precious metal and jewels, why would it command such a high price? In the real world marketplace, a brass hookah would never sell for such an outrageously high price. But this hookah sale is the brainchild of a family seeking to hang onto their land and their "father's legacy" by raising enough money to purchase and turn it into a "totally self-sufficient mini-community."

While I don't doubt the seriousness of this family's desire to keep the land that their father probably cared for and about, it's not very likely that their commonplace brass hookah will fetch them the needed funds. Still, I wish them luck in their endeavor and applaud their creativity in seeking financing for their project. If you've got the money this family needs and want a brass hookah, you can
visit their site.

Fight the Hookah Hype!

Fear mongers have had plenty to say since the hookah craze hit the United States. With carefully worded headlines intended to provoke widespread fear, the alarmist media has been hard at work spreading as much misinformation about the hookah culture as possible. Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I prefer to think that the hype is a direct result of ignorance. And since ignorance propagates fear, it's time to expose the hookah hype.

"Smoking hookah for one hour is the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes!"

Several published studies have jumped on the bandwagon behind this claim, although the number of cigarettes varies from one article to the next. How can this be? Simply put, the stats are false. Not long after the WHO (World Health Organisation) published, in 2005, its "Advisory Note" claiming that hookah smoking poses an international health threat, the hype began in earnest. Despite the glaring errors in WHO's "study," not a single responsible journalist who used the information from the article did his or her homework by investigating the claims the authors of the study had made. When did the folks who work for WHO become infallible? Not only is their study faulty but worse yet, the pseudo-scientists who conducted the research didn't bother to use the correct terminology which resulted in the spread of false information!

Make no mistake about it, smoking can be dangerous to your health; I am not about to claim otherwise. However, when a group as influential as
WHO doesn't know the difference between tambak (raw tobacco) and ma'assel (sweetened flavored tobacco) even when making claims about the dangers of smoking hookah, Houston, we have a problem! It is deceitful to equate tar levels in ma'assel and cigarettes because (1) they are two different types of processed tobacco and (2) the tobacco is burned and consumed via different methods.

Whereas cigarette tobacco is deliberately processed with chemicals designed to create an addiction, ma'assel is not. Ma'assel is natural tobacco soaked in glycerol and flavors making it, by volume, 60%-70% tobacco depending on the manufacturer. Cigarette smokers burn the tobacco -- along with all the crap that tobacco companies add to it -- directly, but any true hookah enthusiast knows that burning ma'assel leads to a most unpleasant smoking experience and seeks to avoid this at all costs! Ma'assel, because of the moisture that the glycerol and flavors provide, is actually vaporized in the smoking process; the tobacco is not burned but rather, heated at a significantly lower temperature than that required to burn to tobacco in a cigarette.

Cigarette smokers carry their addiction with them wherever they go and can light up in a matter of seconds. Hookah smokers, on the other hand, don't have the luxury of lighting up anywhere, anytime and most wouldn't even if they could. In fact, most hookah smokers still follow the etiquette of the Middle East where hookah smoking is an activity meant to be enjoyed in a relaxing, social environment among the company of friends. While cigarette smokers puff continuously to feed their addiction, hookah smokers take a puff or two before passing the hose off to a buddy.
The study that claims 1 hour of hookah smoking is equal to smoking 100 cigarettes is faulty for a variety of reasons.

The average hookah smoker enjoys the pipe far less frequently than the average cigarette smoker fills his ashtray with butts, so why the fear-mongering about the hookah? Could it be that people are afraid of the hookah because it is a non-Western device? Maybe there's a grand conspiracy at work here. . .

For more on the misinformation about hookahs, I recommend taking a look at the
Observatory on Hookah and Health blog. The author does a great job of debunking several myths associated with the hookah.

Chinese Imported Hookahs: A Danger to Users?

As more and more toys manufactured in China are recalled due to safety concerns, I think it's about time that someone speaks out about the thousands of hookahs manufactured in China under the same conditions as those recalled toys! Perhaps because of the disdain many people have for smoking in general there hasn't been any serious examination of the materials used in the manufacture of Chinese hookahs. American consumers are rightfully concerned about lead paint on toys, yet hookah smokers seem to be ignoring the very real possibility that the hookah they own may pose the same dangers as the toys being pulled off store shelves!

If the hookah you own looks like any of the photos in this post, you ought to be worried because no matter what you were told when you purchased it, these hookahs were all ma
nufactured in China. The materials used in the manufacturing process in China are chosen not for their safety or durability, but for their low cost. Anyone who has ever come to our shop with a Chinese made hookah in tow has had the same complaint: the material painted on the shaft to give it color comes off after exposure to the water in the base. Think about it, hookah fans! If the shaft of your hookah is painted and that paint wears off due to its being submerged in water, what materials are being emitted into the water and then passed through it to your lungs? Do you have any clue what that paint is made of or if it contains lead?

Not sure if your hookah was manufactured in China? Here are some things to look for on your hookah to determine if it was made in China:
  • It comes in a hard shell carrying case. (Only hookahs made in China come in these cases! Some unscrupulous eBay sellers are calling these Chinese fakes "Egyptian" hookahs because they purchase the Chinese ones after they have been imported to Egypt. Just because you bought a Chinese hookah in Egypt does NOT make it an authentic Egyptian hookah, peeps!)
  • It has a ceramic bowl or head. (Authentic Egyptian hookahs come with bowls made from the rich clay found along the banks of the Nile River. Why would the Egyptians import Chinese porcelain bowls when they've got a riverbed lined with some of the best clay in the world and artisans who earn their living turning that clay into products?)
  • The shaft is painted the same color as the base. (Hookahs made in Egypt never, never have painted shafts! The authentic Egyptian hookah will have a stainless steel or brass shaft which means you have a choice of two colors only -- silver and gold. If your hookah has a blue, green, red, or black shaft, it was made in China.)
  • The base is plain or painted with a design that is easy to reproduce. (Because they are made by machinery, Chinese hookahs typically have no design on the base. No artisan has ever touched the Chinese made hookah, thus it is plain and undecorated. Any hookahs made in China that do have designs on them are so pathetically decorated that it is easy to see that a machine, not an artist, did the work on them. These hookahs are virtually identical in appearance with no originality to them whatsoever. Boring!)
  • It has a "washable" hose. (Since we've been manufacturing hookah hoses in Egypt for four generations, we know that there is no such thing as a truly washable hose. Why? Because inside each hose is a wire coil around which the tubing that makes up the hose itself is wrapped. Even if the exterior layer is made of leather, pleather, or some other man made material, the inside is still a wire coil that will rust and degrade over time. The process is only sped up when water is run through the so-called "washable" hose! Honestly, the washable hose is a clever marketing strategy; however, the truth about them will win in the end.)

  • It has flashing lights in or on the shaft. (No self-respecting Egyptian hookah manufacturer would ever debase a much loved cultural icon with flashing lights. Barnum and Bailey were not Egyptian, and cheap tricks won't impress the true hookah enthusiast!)

  • Its hoses are made of pleather and have none of the characteristic decorative elements characteristic of the authentic Egyptian hookah hose. (Authentic Egyptian hookahs have marvelous hoses that are designed to enhance the smoking experience in a variety of ways. First, they must be aesthetically pleasing because so much of the hookah experience is about social interaction. Who wants to share a hookah with friends when the hose is just plain or just plain ugly? Besides, fancier hoses are also a social determiner; people with money can afford to have more elaborately decorated hoses to share with their friends. Second, length and circumference varies based on the size of the hookah to which the hose is attached. Whereas the Chinese hookahs are a uniform circumference irrespective of the height of the hookah, authentic Egyptian hookahs have hoses made to fit the height of the pipe. The bigger the pipe, the fatter the hose. Third, authentic Egyptian hookahs come with the same number of hoses as the hookah will hold. Chinese made hookahs may be able to hold up to four hoses, but it's not likely that you will get four hoses with your hookah! This is another clever marketing strategy on the part of those who deal in Chinese made products.)

  • It has an acrylic base. (Authentic Egyptian hookahs always have a glass base blown by a master craftsman and more often than not, hand painted by an artist. You will never find an authentic Egyptian hookah with an acrylic base -- NEVER!)

If the hookah you own looks like any of the photos in this post, you've been had! Your hookah was manufactured in China. There is nothing authentic about it, unless you consider an authentic fraud a positive. If you do own a hookah that was made in China, you should be especially concerned about using it considering the recent recalls of Chinese made products other than toys.