but somehow you've gotten hooked on the hookah, and now you're tired of going down to your local smoking establishment (if you even have one) and using their communal pipes... You've made up your mind, you need your own.
Where do I buy one?
First of all, you should always check your local tobacconist, they may be a bit more worldly than you would expect and often times have more than one style available... however, if the smoke shops in your area are all about cigars and pipes, have no fear. There are places all over the Internet where you can purchase your very own hookah. But some of these shops are a little shabby... here's what to check out when you're examining a hookah shop on-line:
1. Do they carry all the major brands of Shisha tobacco? Al Waha, Nakhla, Al Amir, Romman, all major brands, if your shop doesn't have them, they may not be a reputable dealer.
2. Do they have a wide selection? There are many types of hookahs: Mini, Rotating, Egyptian, Syrian.
3. Do they have a buyer's incentive program? Some on-line shops have 'points' that you can earn through your purchases, which can be redeemed for certain promotional offers or as credit towards your next buy.
4. Where's the 'Free' Stuff? Any good hookah shop is going to get you 'hooked up' when you buy. Most have a standard 'package' that comes along with any hookah you buy. At the very least it should have everything you need to get it fired up once: A hose, a bowl, some mouthpieces, and usually, some shisha.
What am I looking for in a hookah?
Okay, now that you have a good idea as to where you should buy, you need to have a good idea of what you should buy. Some things are a matter of preference, for instance: Many hookah shops carry compact or 'travel' hookahs, and even hand-held hookah pipes for people who want to take the shisha smoking experience with them. But for the more health conscious, did you know that a larger hookah renders less Carbon Monoxide and therefore a potentially safer smoke? At any rate, here's what you're generally looking for:
1. NO ALUMINUM! Some hookah shops have been selling 'modern' hookahs that have mostly- or all-aluminum parts. Although, not all 'modern style' hookahs have these parts, one should keep a good eye out Aluminum is not generally considered safe to smoke through, and build-up of aluminum in the body has been blamed for early onset of Alzheimer's's. A good hookah shaft is made of Stainless Steel.
2. Portability vs. Quality. Some aspects of the hookah can be customized for durability, but this often has an effect on the overall look and quality of your pipe. For instance, I recommend a glass base, it can be easily and safely cleaned, it's sturdy and keeps the hookah upright even when empty and it looks better over time, however, they are now making hookah bases out of Acrylic. What are the advantages of acrylic? It's practically unbreakable. What's the downside? It collects residue and is difficult to wash, the plastic can also trap nasty odors in your pipe and effect the flavor of your shisha.
3. How many are you serving? Do you party a lot? So you host a smoke session? Hookahs are available in as many as four hoses. Often times a two-hose hookah is a good buy for anyone, because if your friend wants to come over and join you in a session, you can offer them their own hose, and most two-hose hookahs can be converted easily back to one when smoking in private. Also, look to see if it has a check-valve. This could go by many different names, but the function is the same, it allows stale smoke to be exhaled from the chamber, but keeps it air-tight when inhaling, it also lets two people smoke the same hookah without the inconvenience of having to cover their hose between puffs.
4. Make sure it had rubber gaskets on everything to keep it air-tight. A hookah that won't hold a seal is useless.
Go and Buy!
Follow the guidelines that I've explained here and you should be perfectly matched with a hookah that will serve it's purpose dutifully as well as display beautifully. Have a happy smoke.