The Blue Puff

The history of the oriental water pipe

The history of the oriental water pipe  (shisha) A shisha is an oriental water pipe to smoke flavoured tobacco. The word “shisha” is Persian and stands for the word “glass”. The word is mostly used instead of the English “water pipe”, but it can also be called “hookah” which is the common American English word for it.The oriental water pipe is originated in India and is similar to a bong. These days it is also known as Hookah, Sheesha, Schischa, Nargile or Narghileh in different parts of the world.The main difference between a bong and a shisha is, that the requires a permanent heating source like a charcoal. The water pipe tobacco contains moisture with different flavours and is heated by the charcoal. The moisture vaporizes and the characteristically big smoke clouds are produced. By pulling the air through the hose of the water pipe, the smoke is floating through the stem into the vase with water. The water (it is also possible to use other fluids like milk or even cola) is chilling the smoke, so it is possible to inhale much more smoke than with a cigarette. A filter effect of water is controversial, though.In the Arabic language, the water pipe is called “Nargila ” or “Argila“, but also ” Hubbly Bubbly” is a common word for it and possibly originates from the typical sound of shisha smoking. In the Turkish language the water pipe is called “Nargile“, while the most common English names are “shisha” or ” hookah“.Most shishas have valves as well to blow the smoke out. For instance they are used whenever the smoke is harsh because of too much heat. The vase is filling with new, unburnt smoke again.The hose of a water pipe is mostly made of  leather or artificial leather . Leather hoses can have a characteristic sweet aftertaste.Most water pipes are made of metal, but there are also wooden or  glass shishas, but they are quite rare. A standard shisha is between 50 – 70 cm (20″ – 30″) tall. There are models with more than onehose port, but the most common shishas are only delivered with one hose port. If a water pipe has more than one hose port, the pull is mostly worse and you cannot get as huge smoke clouds.A standard shisha is composed of the following main parts:

  • Tobacco bowl  to put the tobacco in
  • Stem  the main body of the water pipe
  • Vase  to put water (or other fluids) in
  • Hose , that is connected with the water pipe over the hose port

Besides the main parts of an oriental water pipe, there are also accessories such as the charcoal filterbetween the charcoal and the tobacco (more common: aluminium foil instead of a charcoal filter), theash tray to hold the charcoal or ash below the bowl, or additional hose ports to connect more hoses with the shisha. Historical developmentThe principle of the shisha is originated in India where the first waterpipe tobacco was smoked through a coconut with a bamboo stem. Back in the 16th century the Ottomans brought the water pipe to the Islamic world. In todays Iran, the popularity of the shisha grew very fast. This is why smoking water pipes established in many social classes and became a part of the culture. People have been smoking water pipes to relax and to refresh social contacts. By inviting someone for a shisha, you basically did them the compliment because it was a figure of the friendliness and hospitality. Through Turkey, the oriental water pipe was brought to the western world in the 20th century. At the beginning the water pipe was not so popular, but soon the people for example in the United Kingdom, Germany or the USA discovered the shisha as an interesting “fashion article”. There are lots of caf├ęs, lounges and restaurants where water pipes are served and many people have their own shisha at home.While the people in the Oriental countries are mainly smoking unflavoured natural tobacco, there is flavoured tobacco (mainly for the European and American market) with lots of different flavours. There are fruit flavours such as Apple or Cherry, but also more unusual flavours such as Cotton Candy or even Cucumber conquer the shisha industry. The water pipe tobacco (in the USA also called “shisha”) is different from normal cigarette tobacco because it is wet and contains. It is also a much milder sort of tobacco.Shisha smokers are mainly young people in the western world. Sometimes they underestimate the harmfulness of smoking shisha and they often think, that it is not harmful to smoke shisha. This is not true.  The newest premium model from the Shisha Shop Ltd. is the  Nargilem NPS Chrome. It is possible to smoke with up to 4 hoses and through the perfect diameter of the stem with up to 16 mm, a perfect smoking experience is guaranteed!How Does a Hookah Work? The hookah is setup in the configuration shown to the right. The vase is filled with water to submerge the down stem. The bowl is then covered with a perforated foil sheet or metal screen. The hot coals are placed on top of the foil sheet or metal screen, which causes the tobacco in the bowl to heat up and smoke. Sucking through the hose draws more heat on the tobacco and helps accelerate the heat transfer.By sucking on the hose, the smoke is drawn down through the down stem and underwater. The smoke then rises up above the water in the vase and into the hose port opening. The hose port opening connects directly to the hose port and does not connect to any part of the main stem or down stem. The smoke continues its path through the hose port and hose until it reaches the smoker’s mouth.The release valve is not a necessary component for the hookah to function. However, it is useful. It is used for clearing out stagnate smoke. By blowing into the hose, smoke is pushed back into the vase and through the release valve port opening up to the release valve. The air pushing up through the release valve causes a metal ball bearing to rise up, which allows the smoke to be released. The ball bearing is in the check valve to keep the hookah air tight when smoke is being inhaled.
Hookah Etiquette
The tradition of smoking hookah stretches across many countries and countless cultures. Keeping that in mind, here are some social faux pas that you should avoid.
Never light a cigarette using the hookah coals, it is considered rude and may taint the flavor.When passing the hose, fold the handle so the tip is pointing at you, never point it at others as it is a sign of disrespect and hostility.Similarly when sitting, if you cross your legs, do not point your foot or show someone the bottom of you feet. Many people didn’t recognize the offensive symbolism of the shoe when an Iraqi news reporter threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush in 2008.When talking, pass the hose to others who may want to smoke. A hookah hose is not a microphone.Your hookah should be on the floor and not sitting above you; also when sharing with someone, turn the hookah to give them more slack with the hose, this may also help prevent it from tipping over.