What is a Shisha Pipe?
Shisha Pipes/Hookah Pipes are traditional Middle Eastern, South Asian, or North African Water Pipes that cool smoke by passing it through water before inhalation.
They work by drawing in air through the Bowl and then passing it through the water in the Vase for filtration. Shisha is a great alternative to smoking cigarettes and there are literally hundreds of different flavours to choose from.
If you are reading this buyers guide maybe you have tried a shisha pipe somewhere in a Lounge/cafe or perhaps on holiday and now want to get one for your own home? If you’re thinking about buying your first Shisha Pipe, here are some things to consider to find the perfect one!
Complete Starter Package or Standalone Shisha Pipe?
Complete Starter Package – Perfect for newbies. This package would consist of a shisha pipe, flavours (nicotine free), charcoal, foil and hygiene mouth tips. Everything you need to get your Shisha Experience started!! You just need to add water. We have a collection of Complete Starter Packages available ready to purchase here.
Standalone Pipes – For experienced Shisha enthusiasts who know everything they need or those looking to upgrade their existing Pipe to something newer/latest and greatest.
Shisha Pipe Height/Size?
There is a misconception that the size affects the quality of smoke from a Shisha Pipe. This is generally NOT TRUE – its more down to personal preference.
There are three common sizes of Shisha Pipe.
Large Shisha Pipes – This is the best choice if you’re having a group session or a party.
Larger Pipes can be placed on a table or on the floor and are often used as display/centre pieces when not being smoked. A larger Pipe will often have the option to use multiple hoses and will require a larger bowl.
Medium Shisha Pipes – This is the most popular choice because it’s a great size for one or two people and can be placed on either a table or on the floor. These Pipes also come in a range of different colours and finishes.
Small/Travel Shisha Pipes – These are a great choice for a one person Shisha or for those that take their Shisha whilst they travel because they are small and easy to carry around, some models even come with a carrying bag. Just bear in mind the small size means a smaller hookah hose and bowl.
Shisha Pipes are now generally made from 2 different materials
Anodised Aluminium - These Pipes are usually bright in colour and have a painted finish – Pink, Blue, Green, Red, etc. These are lightweight and easy to use and a good purchase for those on a budget or just looking to explore options.
Stainless Steel -These Pipes have more of a premium feel with a significantly better fit and finish. Although more expensive, a Stainless Steel Pipe will be heavier in weight due to the better quality metal used and will have a much thicker and heavier glass vase which in turn makes it sturdier and more durable. Finally, this type of Pipe will stand up to long term use and almost lasts forever since they are not vulnerable to corrosion or oxidisation, nor do they absorb any flavour.
Single Hose or Multiple Hose Pipes?
Some models have the option to use more than one hose – these are great for groups or parties. Note though only one person will be able to smoke at any given time.
Whether you choose a Single or Multi Hose Shisha Pipe there are no performance sacrifices, both Pipes will smoke equally as good – just keep in mind if several hoses are connected and being used at the same time then flavour and charcoal will run out quicker and you will need a larger bowl.
There are two types of shisha flavour types available: Nicotine Based (As used in Shisha Lounges / Cafes) and Nicotine Free. Shisha flavours are available in a wide range of flavours ranging from fruit, sweet to minty as well as combinations.
Nicotine Based or Lounge Style Flavours – Also referred to as Shisha Tobacco or Lounge Style flavours. Nicotine based flavours are generally made from tobacco leaves with flavouring added in and are mainly used in Shisha Lounges/cafes. It is the nicotine that gives you that light headedness / buzz when you smoke them in a Shisha Lounge/cafe. Tobacco based flavours are much more expensive than nicotine free alternatives due to the taxes that are applied to tobacco.
Nicotine Free Flavours – Nicotine free flavours are generally made from tobacco leave alternatives such as tea leaves, plants or crystals. There is no nicotine in the product which means you would not get the light headedness feeling however they still retain the taste of shisha. As these products are not made from tobacco, they are excluded from hefty taxes and are therefore cost less than their tobacco based counterparts.
Shisha Bowls - what type of bowl do I need?
There are commonly 2 different types of bowl styles available: Dome/Vortex or Phunnel Bowls.
Dome/Vortex Style Bowls – Have several holes in the bottom of the bowl for smoke to be drawn through. Although these offer good performance, the liquid from your flavour can drip down the stem into the water and impair the flavour of your Shisha as well as making cleaning your Pipe more difficult.
Phunnel Style Bowls – Have a single large central hole for smoke to be drawn through. Typically, with a more even and raised centre, this will stop liquid dripping into the water and give you a cleaner smoke.
Shisha Bowl Materials
Both types of Bowl's are available in either Clay/Ceramic or silicone.
Silicone – easy to clean and almost unbreakable. Hold a good amount of flavour for a medium length smoking time. However, designs and colours are very limited and they do not perform as well as clay/ceramic alternatives.
Clay/Ceramic – easy to clean come in lots of shapes and sizes. Also, a huge range of colours and patterns available to fully customise your Shisha set up. Range of prices from midrange to premium to suit all budgets.
What is a Heat Management Device (HMD)?
Heat management is an important part of any Shisha set up and session.
You can use heavy-duty aluminium foil to wrap the Shisha Bowl or you can get a Heat Management Device or HMD for short. HMD’s cost more than aluminium foil, but they are completely reusable and should last the lifetime of your Pipe – so a one time investment.
The advantage of an HMD is the charcoal pieces are protected from breeze and
temperature fluctuations and will give a more even heat burn time. Some models have raised sides or a lid/cover with adjustable vents to help control the level of heat – these are a much safer alternative to using foil only as hot pieces of charcoal can fall off foil and burn carpet, furniture, etc.
Charcoal - Quick Light or Natural Charcoal?
Quick Light Charcoal
Also called Instant Light Charcoals, these are widely used for convenience. They sparkle and light up quickly using just a lighter, an ideal choice when you want to light up for an outdoor smoke session.
Although super quick and convenient, Quick Light Charcoal does have strong and distinctive smell from the chemical accelerant they are infused with, this can sometimes impair the taste of your Shisha Flavour. You will also need to top up the charcoal more often due to a short burn time compared to natural charcoal.
Natural Charcoal does not contain any harmful Chemicals as they are made from coconut husk – the leftover outer part of coconut shells. Since no chemicals are used you don’t experience any kind of odour or impaired taste. They give off clean, stable and long lasting heat and are also environmentally friendly.
Natural Charcoal do take longer to light and require a consistent source of heat – Charcoal Burner or Gas Stove/Cooker. Once the charcoal is ignited it retains as well as produces more heat which means a longer smoking session.
This covers all the main points of buying your first shisha pipe. If you still are unsure or have further questions, please contact us directly on 0208 133 3263 or via email.