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Are E-Hookahs A Safer Alternative To Traditional Smoking?

  • October 5, 2014 /



Vaping has become a hot topic these past few years, and the overall safety of smoking e-devices is an extremely controversial topic. Why? Because there just hasn’t been enough research done on the matter yet.

At this point in the game, the best we can do is take the information that’s currently available and do our best to make an informed decision about the safety of vaping.

Here’s the thing–most of this debate is centered around the differences between e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes. But what about e-hookahs? Are they safer to use than traditional hookahs? Again, there hasn’t been enough research done on the topic to warrant an absolute answer.

One thing we can do, however, is take a look the harmful effects of smoking an actual hookah.

How Is Traditional Hookah Smoking Bad For Your Health?

According to a report released by the World Health Organization, smoke from a traditional hookah (by way of shisha and hot charcoal) contains a bevy of toxic chemicals, including :

  • Thirty six times more carcinogenic tar than regular cigarette smoke.
  • Up to fifteen times more heart disease causing carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide
  • High levels of hydrogen cyanide, lead, cobalt, chromium, nickel and potent carcinogens.

A common misconception with traditional hookah smoking is the idea that these toxic chemicals are filtered out with water from the base of the device.

This is, unfortunately, not true even in the slightest. Water in a hookah does not filter out toxic chemicals.  The water in a hookah has one specific job–to cool the smoke. That’s it.

It really comes down to this: smoking shisha tobacco isn’t safe, and scientists argue that a traditional hookah session may even be worse than smoking cigarettes.

And it gets worse: hookah charcoal contain large amounts of carbon monoxide. In extreme cases, carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real threat faced by frequent hookah smokers. This means that using tobacco-free herbal shisha and vapor/steam stones can potentially be very harmful.

For further clarification on the matter, we’ve included links to sources at the bottom of this article.

Comparing The Ingredients: Traditional Hookahs and E-Hookahs

What we’ve covered thus far is pretty bad news for frequent hookah smokers. There may be a light at the end of the tunnel, though. E-hookahs work quite a bit differently, and they’re close enough to the real thing that making the switch is a totally viable option.

E-hookahs use e-liquid, which contain absolutely no toxic chemicals whatsoever. As a matter of fact, e-liquid is made up of only five distinct parts:

  • Water
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • Flavoring (same stuff you find in food)

Pro Tip: when choosing an e-liquid, be sure to double check the ingredients list. Cheaper e-liquid (usually made in China) may contain traces of other chemicals that you shouldn’t be inhaling, like acetoin and diacetyl. The easiest way to avoid this stuff is to only buy premium e-liquid made in North America.

The next obvious benefit of using an e-hookah: lack of charcoal. Since e-liquid in e-hookahs is heated electronically (via a battery), it poses absolutely no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

How Oral Health Fits In With Hookah Smoking

When we talk about the adverse side-effects caused by traditional tobacco smoking, most people are going to focus on cancer causing and lung health issues. It is important, however, to understand how smoking affects your oral health as well.

Smoking a traditional hookah exposes your mouth to large amounts of smoke that can lead to the development of halitosis (bad breath). Nobody enjoys this, believe me.

Scientific studies have also shown that the toxins in traditional hookah smoke increase the risk of tooth loss, gum recession, oral and pharyngeal cancer and periodontal disease- a bacterial infection of the gums that’s often irreversible. The traditional hookah smoke also interferes with the healing process of oral wounds and can also hinder the success of most dental procedures.

And who can forget dry mouth–smoking a traditional hookahs can cause a decrease in saliva production. Saliva is a natural oral cleanser, and having dry mouth makes your more susceptible to oral cavities.

You can probably guess where we’re going with this: e-hookahs use toxin-free e-liquid, and as a result don’t have a negative impact on oral health. Just ask your dentist.

What About Nicotine?

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the nicotine question. The simple fact of the matter is that liquid nicotine isn’t exactly good for you, and large doses of it can be poisonous.

With that said, the great thing about e-hookahs is that you can choose exactly how much nicotine is used in your e-liquid. As a matter of fact, most e-liquid sold specifically for e-hookahs usually comes nicotine free right off the bat.

This is great news for casual hookah smokers. If you only smoke once in a blue moon, then there’s a good chance you aren’t addicted to nicotine. This means that you can opt for nicotine free e-liquid and still enjoy a relaxing electronic hookah session.

If you are addicted to nicotine, then you’re covered as well. Unlike e-cigarettes, e-hookahs usually only need a small amount of nicotine to effectively replicate a traditional hookah smoking session. For best results, 1% to 2% nicotine concentration is all that you’re going to need.

Pro tip: nicotine is a stimulant drug and it’s very addictive. Always start nicotine free and see if that works for you.  If you can enjoy an e-hookah session without using nicotine, more power to you and keep doing what you’re doing.

Ready to learn more about switching from traditional hookahs to electronic hookahs? Check out these top 10 reason why you should switch to an e-hookah.