Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 24, 2022

With so many different ways of smoking weed nowadays, cannabis users are not short on options when choosing their favorite ones. Out of the many smoking devices used for weed, the hookah is one of the more unconventional ones that has found a community of its own. 

Hookahs already have centuries of history and tradition behind them as they were used for smoking tobacco, and just like weed, hookahs are associated with socializing and hangouts with friends. So, what happens when you combine the two? 

Even though originally they weren’t designed for cannabis, using a hookah to smoke weed is definitely a unique experience, which is the topic of today’s article. We’ll introduce you to hookahs and explain how they’re used and how you can smoke weed from a hookah, so let’s get started.

What Are Hookahs and What Are They Used For?

A hookah is a type of waterpipe primarily used for smoking tobacco and tobacco products, such as shisha. Shisha is a type of flavored tobacco blend prepared with molasses and different fruit flavorings. 

The name “hookah” comes from the Hindustani word “huqqa,” but there are many other different names for this smoking device around the world. It’s thought to have been invented in India during the Mughal Empire period by a Persian physician named Abu’l-Fath Gilani. Other records point that it was invented in the Safavid dynasty of Persia from where it started spreading to the Indian subcontinent.

Hookahs came to the West in the 19th century, but they really rose to popularity during the 1960s and 1970s when a lot of hookah lounges started popping up. Today, there are hookah lounges in many countries around the world with shisha enthusiasts enjoying a flavorful smoke.

That being said, hookah pipes are a large part of the culture and tradition in countries of South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Middle East. People smoke shisha as a pastime and at social gatherings, with local cafes offering hookahs on the menu.

How Does a Hookah Work?

Hookah pipes use a water filtering system, similar to bongs, with the difference being that they vaporize instead of combust the weed by using lit charcoal pieces. The heated charcoal is placed on a perforated aluminum foil that covers the shisha in the hookah bowl. The charcoal vaporizes the shisha which produces smoke that travels through the water chamber before being inhaled through the mouthpiece.

A hookah pipe is made up of the following elements:

  • Hookah bowl. Similar to the bong bowl but a little larger and deeper, it’s where you put the shisha or herbs;
  • Windscreen. The windscreen covers the top of the bowl and allows the heat from the coals to pass through. Many hookahs use a perforated tin foil as a windscreen, but some models come with their own integrated windscreen;
  • Plate. The plate sits below the bowl and it serves to catch any cinder and ash that falls from the coals;
  • Water base. The main body of the hookah. It’s a vase-shaped structure that’s filled with water and it serves to cool and filter out the smoke as it passes through;
  • Stem. The stem is the component that directs the smoke to the water base. It also holds all parts of the hookah together; 
  • Hose. A flexible tube that emerges from the stem and connects to the mouthpiece. Some hookah models have more than one hose to accommodate more than one person at the same time;
  • Purge valve. An opening that serves to remove any smoke trapped in the water base.

Can You Smoke Weed From a Hookah?

In short, yes, you can smoke weed from a hookah. It may not be your typical smoking device, but many cannabis enthusiasts are enjoying their weed by smoking from a hookah.

Hookahs are definitely a unique way to enjoy weed. They produce large quantities of cool smoke and release CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids and terpenes at a steady temperature. As many users say, “the high creeps on you slowly” and suddenly you realize that you’re blazed. Plus, hookahs with multiple hoses are great for sharing with friends when you want to make it a party. 

However, there are some limitations to using a hookah. First, it’s bulky and not very portable. Besides that, it’s not a device you’ll readily find in any shop or a dispensary. There are smaller versions of it called hookah pens that are similar to vape pens, but the smoking experience they offer is nowhere near the real deal. 

And finally, if you do get yourself a hookah pipe, you should be wary of resin buildup and clean it regularly. Unlike shisha which is a moist substance, cannabis leaves a lot of sticky resin behind that can clog your device.

How to Prep a Hookah for Smoking Weed

Now, let’s see how to prepare for your hookah smoking session. 

You’ll need:

  • Hookah;
  • Shisha (optional);
  • Ground dry herbs or kief;
  • Aluminum foil (if your hookah doesn’t come with its own windscreen);
  • Charcoal pieces;
  • Heat-resistant tongs.

Step 1 – Clean the Hookah

The hookah must be clean before your hookah session. It’s okay to skip one session, but if you can, cleaning it before every use is ideal. This prevents resin buildup, but it also makes for cleaner and more flavorful smoke. Note that the hookah must be fully dry before use.

Step 2 – Add the Water

Remove the stem and fill the water reservoir with cold water about 1/3 of the way. Some users also like to add a few ice cubes, but this is not necessary. Put the stem back in its place and make sure it’s securely connected to the vase.

Step 3 – Insert the Hose(s)

Insert the hoses in their respective holes and secure them. Check the airflow by pulling air from the mouthpiece. If it’s difficult to draw air, there may be too much water in the reservoir. 

Step 4 – Fill the Hookah Bowl

A lot of cannabis users like to mix the dry herbs with shisha as it produces a nice flavor and it helps to mask the weed smell. But you can use just the dry cannabis flowers on their own.

If you like to mix weed and shisha, you can “sandwich” the weed between two layers of shisha if you want a milder effect, but if you want the weed to hit harder, you should put it on the top. Dry herbs increase the risk for gunk build-up, so if you want to avoid it, you can also use kief. Just gather some from the bottom of your grinder and put it in the bowl. Whatever you use, don’t pack it tightly to allow for proper airflow.

Step 5 – Place the Windscreen

If your hookah comes with a perforated windscreen, simply put it on the top of the bowl. Alternatively, you can use aluminum foil, but you’ll have to poke tiny holes to the top of the foil. You can use a needle or a pin.

Step 6 – Light the Charcoal

Pick up a coal piece with the tongs and light it using a dab torch or any other strong source of heat. Place the lit coal on the top of the windscreen. Place as many as needed, but make sure you don’t fully block the airflow.

Step 7 – Wait, then Smoke

After you’ve placed the coal, you should wait for a couple of minutes for the weed to start vaporizing. Then you can start pulling the smoke from the mouthpiece. If the smoke has a weak flavor, give it a couple more minutes. If it has a slightly burnt flavor, remove some of the coal pieces. Then, when all is set, you’re ready to take long hits, kick back, and enjoy yourself.

Is Hookah Smoking Healthier?

While hookah pipes filter out a lot of the toxins naturally released in the smoke, including tar, carbon monoxide, and carcinogens, they’re not a foolproof way to smoke weed. Hookahs produce a lot of smoke that can be really aggravating for people with sensitive respiratory systems and may trigger a negative reaction. Therefore, while a fun way to smoke weed, you should be aware that any kind of smoking carries a health risk, it’s just that some may be less severe than others.

Bottom Line – Hookahs Can Be a Fun and Unique Way of Consuming Weed

Even though they weren’t exactly developed for smoking weed, hookah pipes have found many fans in the weed community. They produce chilled and filtered flavorful smoke that offers a unique smoking experience. Hookahs with multiple hoses are great for social gatherings and sharing, which is what weed and the traditional usage of the hookah have in common. However, no smoking device is perfect and there are some drawbacks to using a hookah you should know about before you invest in one.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.