Step-by-Step Guide on How To Make Shisha
Everybody loves shisha — it tastes great, it smells great, it smokes great, it even looks great. Honestly, it seems like there is nothing shisha can't do.
There are tons of shisha producers out there, many of them making truly outstanding, high quality shisha products that are perfect for any hookah smoker, new or experienced alike.
Shisha, also known as mu’assel, has only been around in times compared to the hundreds of years that hookah has been around. Yet no innovation has increased the popularity and spread of hookah in the Western world quite like shisha has.
While there are literally hundreds of shisha flavors available on the market, you may be wondering if you can make shisha at home.
The good news for you is that you certainly can if you have the right ingredients and know what you're doing.
Here is our MOB Hookah guide on how to make your own shisha at home.
(Though, it’s worth noting that we’ll always recommend you just buy shisha from a manufacturer for both safety and quality purposes).
What Is Shisha?
Before we dive into the details of making hookah tobacco at home, we feel we should talk a bit about what shisha really is.
Shisha is a specific type of tobacco that can only be smoked safely by using a hookah pipe. Shisha is a mixture of chopped tobacco leaves, molasses, honey, glycerin, and flavorings. These flavorings can include ingredients like real pieces of fruit, fruit juices, zest, spices, extracts, and even artificial flavorings.
Hookah smoking has been around for centuries, originating sometime in the 16th century, and continuing to grow in popularity today. For most of the history of hookah, unflavored tobacco was used in the hookah pipe. Sometimes it would be mixed with molasses, honey, and fruit, but it was a much different formula than what’s used today.
This was not easy as it had to be mixed with water in the proper amounts to make it pliable and soft for the hookah bowl. This led to harsh smoke, intense nicotine delivery, some unsavory flavors, and difficulty keeping the bowl lit.
With the invention of modern-day shisha, hookah smokers had an easier to use and tastier tobacco option for their hookah pipes. This innovation led to the continued expansion of hookah smoking and hookah bars throughout Western Europe and the United states.
What You Will Need To Make Shisha at Home
Before we get into making your own shisha you're going to need to assemble the proper ingredients for a delicious shisha.
The basic things that you will need are tobacco leaves, molasses or honey, glycerin, and flavorings.
When purchasing your molasses, be sure that you are not buying blackstrap molasses. Also ensure that you were buying unsulphured molasses; this will make a much better product in the end.
For glycerin, you are going to need vegetable glycerin. You can find vegetable glycerin at most health food stores.
For flavorings, make sure that you are purchasing it as a natural product as possible. When purchasing flavoring additives you should make sure that they are made with a base of neutral grain alcohol or glycerin. If they are oil-based you will be left with an oily product that will have a different texture and flavor than the smoke that you are trying to get from your hookah pipe.
Finally, when purchasing your tobacco leaves, you have a few options. Light pipe tobacco or cigar tobacco is a good choice, but don't feel like you have to break the bank on your tobacco since a lot of the tobacco flavor will be masked by however you flavor it with everything else. You can also order whole leaf tobacco or bags of pipe tobacco online. Your best bet is going to be using tambak, which is a dried tobacco in the form of a brick. This is a form of Middle Eastern tobacco, so it will give you the closest approximation to traditional shisha.
Now you are ready to start whipping up some top notch sheesha.
Step One: Soak Your Tobacco
The first step in the shisha making process is to soak your dry tobacco. Soaking is an important step as it rehydrates your tobacco leaves, making them more pliable and easy to work with, and it can even remove a little bit of the nicotine — it’s up to you if that’s a pro or a con!
The basic rule is: the longer you soak your tobacco, the less tobacco flavor will end up in your final product, and the less nicotine will make it into your final product.
Change out the water every 30 minutes while you soak your tobacco in a bowl or Tupperware. You can do so until the water runs clean for no leftover tobacco flavor, or stop somewhere in the middle for some tobacco taste.
Step Two: Remove the Stems and Chop Your Tobacco
The next step is to remove the stems and chop up the tobacco. You want to remove the stems as they are highly bitter and contain a lot of nicotine, which together can add very unpleasant flavors to your hookah tobacco mixture. You can strip them by hand or you can use a sharp knife and a cutting board.
Then, bunch up the tobacco into one pile and chop it up with a sharp knife. You can make it as coarse or as fine as you want. Some people even use kitchen scissors, coarsely cutting through the pile.
Just keep in mind if you are using an Egyptian style hookah bowl, you will want to stay coarse enough that it will not fall down your stem.
Step Three: Add Your Flavorings
Now we are ready to bring some flavor into the mix.
You should start by adding your honey or molasses (choose one or the other, not both) to a bowl separate from your shisha. For every three grams of tobacco, use one gram of molasses or honey. This will give you the perfect mixture of sticky, wet, but not too moist tobacco.
Then add your flavorings — don't go overboard here as you can always add more later.
Then, add your glycerin. We recommend one gram of glycerin for every 10 grams of tobacco.
Once those wet ingredients have been mixed in a bowl you are ready to add your tobacco, stir it up really well, seal your container and let it soak overnight.
If it feels too dry, add honey or molasses. If you don't like the flavor, add more to the mix and let it sit once again.
You will get the best tasting and best-mixed shisha by letting it sit for a week. Trust us the wait is worth it. It is important that you give it a strong whiff, then you can sprinkle just a little bit into a bowl to sample the flavor.
Shisha Making: The Takeaways
Shisha is one of the most important parts of the hookah experience, you can’t smoke a hookah without some shisha to go in it.
Making your own shisha at home is not as difficult or complicated as some people may believe. As long as you have tobacco leaves, molasses or honey, vegetable glycerin, and flavorings, then you can make your own shisha easily (though we can’t promise it will be as smooth of a smoke as the shisha producers who have a few decades of experience on top of you).
Wash your tobacco, strip the stems, and chop it up to the proper coarseness. Then you mix your wet ingredients, add your tobacco, and let the mixture sit for at least a day, preferably a week.
It really is that simple, and it can be fun, too. If you have never made your own shisha at home, it’s worth trying for any hookah enthusiast, even if just once to make a flavor you may not find online or in-stores.
For all your other shisha needs, MOB Hookah has got you covered. We have a collection of the industry's best shisha tobacco at the best prices.
And as always, keep checking back at our blog for more great guides just like this one.