Switching from hookah to vaping is a pretty natural progression. They have a lot in common—emphasis on flavor, big clouds…there’s even a shared ingredient in vegetable glycerin, which is found in both e-liquid and traditional shisha.
Still, vaping and smoking hookah are not exactly the same. Making the switch takes adjustment. This is why so many people ask how to make vaping more like hookah.
I’ve written about e-hookahs pretty extensively so far—I still use one to this day—but they’re not exactly the most widely used vaping device. E-hookah heads, in particular, are still pretty niche. So I wondered—if e-hookahs aren’t being universally adopted by ex-hookah smokers, then what are they using?
So I went on a quest. I wanted to know what type of vape devices other hookah smokers turned to, beyond e-hookah heads and portable e-hookahs.
I wasn’t surprised to find an assortment of answers—vaping is hardly standardized, after all. But I did find one consistent theme wherever I looked: many, many ex-hookah smokers have turned to dripping as their primary source of vaping.
Simply put, dripping is vaping without a tank—you apply e-liquid directly onto a coil infused with cotton. In other words, you literally drip e-liquid on the atomizer as you use it. After a few puffs, you apply some more. Repeat as often as you’d like.
If this is all new to you, you’re probably asking the same question I did: why would anybody in the world want to do that? It sounds incredibly tedious.
Turns out, dripping has some serious advantages. For starters, it really enhances the flavor of your e-liquid. I’ve heard it described as “flavor overload,” but it a totally good way. This fact alone is probably appealing enough for most people.
But there’s more! With the right dripping set up, you also get massive clouds—even bigger than the ones you get from standard vaping. Again, I like where this is going.
The kicker? Dripping doesn’t restrict you from using as many flavors as you’d like. Since you’re only using a few drops of any one flavor at a time, you have the freedom to switch to a different one on the fly. You don’t have to wait for an empty tank, because there is no tank. Someone out there arguing in favor of dripping just dropped his mic.
Dripping e-liquid is generally the same thing as regular vaping. You need a battery, an atomizer, and your vape juice of choice.
The differences lie in the type of components you use.
In order to drip, you need a special type of atomizer: a rebuildable dripping atomizer--or RDA--to be specific.
RDAs are similar in function to a regular atomizer, but, as you probably have figured out by now, don't have a tank. Instead, they have a slightly shallow drip chamber used to collect the drops of e-liquid that you apply.
Most basic RDAs have three exposed posts--one positive post in the center, and two negative posts to each side. This is where you wrap the coil.
More advanced RDAs have a split positive center prong to accommodate dual coil setups, but you probably shouldn't worry about that if you're an absolute beginner.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that you have to build the coils yourself? That's where that whole "rebuildable" thing comes into play.
It sounds tricky, but once you get the hang of it building coils is actually not too bad. All it takes is a little patience and some know-how. You'll also need a screwdriver (which usually comes with any RDA you buy), resistance wire, and organic cotton.
Many RDAs also feature variable air-flow settings. If you're a hookah smoker, then this is something you'll probably want, since you're used to taking larger draws than the average smoker.
In the end, though, an RDA is still an atomizer, and atomizers need to be powered. For that, you'll need...
If you've been vaping for a while, the term "battery mod" shouldn't be new to you. All vape devices have them--they're the things that hold the battery, and thus send power to the atomizer...which in turn heats up the coils that vaporize the e-liquid.
And it's really no different when it comes to dripping. Any mod will do...but it's important to note that most serious drippers favor unregulated mechanical mods over circuitry-infused box mods.
Why? Well, for one, mechanical mods are typically more reliable. Since they don't have any fancy circuitry built in, there's a lot less to break--and therefore a lot less to worry about.
But more importantly, mechanical mods don't regulate power flow. This means you get massive voltage and wattage output, which translates to bigger clouds (with a sub-ohm coil build, of course). They also feature removable batteries, which means you don't have to worry about throwing the whole thing away once the battery decides to call it quits.
Since dripping set ups almost always veer in sub-ohm territory, you're going to want to pick e-liquid that's heavier on VG than PG. If you're using a high-powered mechanical mod, you should probably consider an all-VG blend.
If none of this e-liquid talk make sense, this article should help you out.
Drip tips aren't as fancy as RDAs or battery mods, but they're a critical element of dripping.
Think of drip tips as a mouthpiece you attach to the top of an RDA. It's where you place your lips. Yeah...can't really describe is any other why.
But they are important, I promise! Here's why: the longer the drip tip, the more time the vapor has to cool before it hits your lungs. If you're using an RDA with a mechanical mod, you're getting a lot of power--which means you're getting a much hotter vape.
So if you're used to hookah, you're used to to having smoke cooled by water before you inhale it. In this case, a longer drip tip is probably the best choice for you.
Keep in mind that I've only scratched the surface when it comes to dripping. I haven't gone into great detail here because, well, it would make this article much longer than it needs to be. If you need visual assistance, this great video from MyFreedomSmokes sums it all up quite nicely.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the million dollar question. Sure, dripping is an advanced way to vape, but it’s certainly not the easiest. To smoke hookah, you just have to fill a bowl and go for it. Right?
Well, not really. Think about it. Hookah has never been about simply filling a bowl and hitting go. Hookah is all about preparation: you don’t just fill a bowl with shisha…you pinch and sprinkle that stuff as per your own personal specifications. You apply the foil wrap and punch in the perfect amount of holes…exactly how you want it. You heat coals to a certain degree—again, however you like it.
See a pattern here? Smoking hookah is pretty easy, but preparing a hookah? That’s ritualistic. It’s personal. It’s part of an identity.
And this is exactly why so many hookah smokers have turned to dripping vape juice—it’s a transfer of that classic DIY spirit.
With dripping, you don’t simply charge a battery and fill a tank…you have to prepare the coils. This act alone is super personal. You choose the perfect coil material to use. You choose the type of cotton. You then build the coil exactly how you want it.
You don’t really get that with a standard vape set-up.
It doesn’t stop there, either. The DIY spirit of hookah goes beyond preparing a bowl and heating coils. There’s also the pipe—the literal hookah. There’s a ridiculous variety of hookahs available, and they vary in size, shape, and features--like the amount of hose connections.
And since we’re on the topic of hookah hoses, those come in amazing varieties as well. You have standard hoses, fancy frilly hoses, hoses shaped like snakes…this list goes on.
And bowls? Those come in different sizes, too. Big bowls, small bowls, 2-bowl attachments…even 4-bowl attachments!
If it isn’t clear, my point is this: the hookah you use/used was very much a part of your “hookah identity.” With hookah pipes, you can mix and match pieces pretty much to your hearts content. If you’re anything like me, you may even have a few of these “franken-hookahs” still lying around your house.
And—you guessed it—this sentiment is carried over with dripping. There are lots of variables to choose from, from the type of battery mod you decide to use all the way to your preferred drip-tip.
So, to summarize: many ex-hookah smokers prefer dripping because it’s ritualistic and customizable—just like hookah. Also, don’t forget what we brought up earlier: dripping allows for maximum flavor potential, big clouds, and the ability to switch through flavors whenever it pleases you. Sounds very hookah-like to me.
Since you’ve read this far, you probably assume that I’m going to say “Yes! Start dripping today!”
Not so fast, tiger. There are still a few things you need to consider.
First, dripping is considered an advanced subset of vaping—and there’s a reason for this.
There’s a definite learning curve, and while some notions of preparation are similar to that of hookah, these skills aren’t perfectly transferable. Filling a bowl and wrapping a coil are two different activities. Heating up charcoal and understanding how batteries work are similar only in spirit.
Second, dripping can be dangerous. And I don’t mean that in health-related way—I mean literally dangerous…like if you don’t know what you’re doing, your vape device could very well be a fire hazard.
This goes back to the what I just mentioned: the learning curve is steep, but it’s absolutely vital that you understand how ohms and wattage works before you even consider dripping.
And finally, you may not even like dripping. While lots of ex-hookah smokers have chosen this path, there are still plenty of other ways to vape that are far more convenient.
If you’re brand new to vaping, then you should probably start with a simple vaping device. If you want more options and bigger clouds/better flavor, then consider looking into sub-ohm vaping kits.
If you're been vaping for a while, though, and still feel that DIY hookah itch, then dripping may be a great choice for you. It's worked out for a lot of people, so if you're feeling a bit ambitious, why not, at the very least, give it a try?
Dripping is a type of vaping that's worked out for many ex-hookah smokers, so if you've read this entire article, it may very well be something that interests you.
If this is the case, then give MyFreedomSmokes a try. They have an amazing variety of vaping supplies, and offer everything you'll need to get started with vape dripping. They also provide a ton of great how-to videos and product previews on their official YouTube channel.
Also: if you link from here you get 15% off your first order. Might as well save some money, right?
This article only goes over the absolute basics of dripping e-liquid...there's naturally a lot more to it. If you're interested in dripping, I highly recommend reading more on the topic. Here are some great websites I found that go into much greater detail about specific aspects of dripping.