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List of 15 liquids that can replace water in a hookah

The world of hookah is vast and interesting, drawing enthusiasts into a realm of aromatic clouds and unique experiences. The hookah vase is traditionally filled with water, which helps to filter and cool the smoke. However, many hookah enthusiasts like to experiment and often replace the water with different liquids to change and enhance the taste of the hookah. The aim of this article is to explore the different substitutes for water in hookah, their effect on smoke, taste and possible health implications

The water in a hookah vase serves as a filtering element that cools the smoke and traps impurities and some of the residual nicotine. It also helps create the iconic bubbling sound that is characteristic of every hookah

Although water is the standard in hookahs, there are alternative substitutes that can add an enticing touch to your smoke

Milk or cream

Some hookah enthusiasts swear by milk or cream, which they believe create thicker clouds of smoke. The density of milk is thought to increase the density of the smoke compared to water. However, it should be noted that milk can foam and there is a risk of it being sucked into the hose, which can cause it to clog. Also, milk residues can be difficult to clean if left in the base of the hookah for too long

Juices and Fruit juices

Using fruit juices such as apple, orange or pineapple not only changes the flavour profile of the smoke, but can also potentially increase its sweetness. Depending on the combination, different flavours can complement, contrast or mute the taste of the shisha. Keep in mind that fruit juice can cause sticking of the shisha bowl and hose due to its sugar content, which requires thorough cleaning after use

Alcohol (wine, vodka, beer)

Alcohol is another popular water substitute commonly used by those who want to enrich their hookahs. For example, red or white wine can add a grape-like flavour to the smoke, adding sophistication to the overall experience. Vodka often goes well with the light or citrus flavors of shisha. It is important to remember that alcohol can amplify the effects of nicotine, which can cause severe dizziness, headache or even nausea

Energy drink

Using energy drinks as a substitute for shisha can add an innovative flavour to your smoking experience. The unique taste of an energy drink can bring a fresh, sweet and energetic undertone to your favourite hookah flavours. This novel experiment can really turn your ordinary hookah session into a truly energetic experience

Ice water

Adding ice to the water or cooling it beforehand creates a cooler and tastier smoke. It’s a simple trick to make your hookah session more enjoyable, especially during warmer weather

Flavored water

Enhance your smoking experience with flavoured waters. From water with cucumber, lemon and mint to commercial flavours such as coconut water, these substitutes can fine-tune the taste of your shisha to perfection. However, it’s essential to clean them thoroughly after each use to avoid residue


Coffee, which adds caffeine to your hookah, also brings a distinctive flavour accent to your smoking experience. Pairs well with creamy or chocolate shishas


You can enhance the flavour profile of your shisha by using different types of tea. Green tea, chamomile or even a strong brewed black tea can offer unique floral flavour overtones

Soda or carbonated drinks

Some hookah smokers use soda or carbonated beverages to get a bubbly, thick smoke. However, these tend to heat the smoke and can result in a very sticky hookah if not cleaned immediately

Essential oils

A few drops of food-grade essential oils, such as mint or citrus, added to water can freshen up the whole experience. However, remember to use essential oils sparingly as they are strong

Coconut water

If you’re looking for a subtle sweet taste, coconut water can be the perfect substitute for water in a hookah. This electrolyte-packed substitute not only tastes great, but is also refreshing

Maple syrup

If you want to add a little sweetness to your hookah, consider adding a little honey or maple syrup to your water. Don’t replace all the water, just add a teaspoon or two

Rose or floral water

Try adding rose water, or water from another flower such as lavender, hibiscus or elderflower to enjoy a pleasant floral hookah experience. This aromatic liquid combines well with sweet and fruity shisha

Grapefruit or citrus peel

You don’t need to add whole fruit for a subtle, long-lasting citrus flavour. You can enjoy that, just peel the peel off the fruit and add it to the water

Ginger tea/extract

Ginger: Ginger infusion can add a spicy touch to your hookah. It works especially well with apple or cinnamon flavored shishas

Water substitution precautions

Although exploring water substitutes can be exciting, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks. First, not every liquid cools the smoke sufficiently, which can lead to pungent, hot smoke. Packing in sugar-rich liquids can lead to sticky residue that could attract pests if not cleaned properly. Milk or cream can spoil, creating unpleasant smells and tastes

Health implications

Although replacing the water in a hookah with other liquids can change the experience of smoking a hookah, it can also have health implications. The addition of alcohol can increase the effects of circulating nicotine and other chemicals in the bloodstream. Sugary drinks can lead to inhaling more sugar particles, while dairy products can lead to inhaling small amounts of milk derivatives. It is therefore essential to maintain moderation and take the necessary precautions in the event of any health problems


Substituting other liquids for water in a hookah can add a fun and individual touch to smoking. Experimentation can lead to a new favourite flavour combination or a brand new experience worth sharing at your next social gathering. Remember, however, that while experimentation is part of the fun of smoking a hookah, maintenance, cleaning and awareness of the possible health consequences should never take a back seat. Hookah is best enjoyed responsibly and carefully, ensuring a consistent and satisfying experience every time.

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