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What’s the Best Liquid For Your Hookah Base?

Water is the building block for life on Earth. Clean water fuels our bodies, and saltwater fills our oceans, creating incredible vistas of crystal blue water that supports most of the life on earth.

And, most importantly, water can be used for smoking hookah. Okay, maybe not the most important, but one of the most important components of hookah smoking. 

But if you have ever smoked hookah, while you are certainly grateful for water, you may have started to wonder if there are more options out there that can switch up your smoking experience.

Well, it turns out, there are more options — a lot more. There is a world of experimentation out there for the liquid that you can put in the base of your hookah, but not all liquids are created equal for hookah smoking.

To save you some of the trial and error, we have gone ahead and done the research, and tested out the most popular hookah base liquids around so that you don’t have to. 

Here, we have compiled the knowledge we have to help you choose the best liquid for your hookah base.

Get ready for the MOB Hookah guide to the best liquids for your hookah base.

What Does the Liquid in Hookah Do?

Excellent question. The liquid in your hookah base is what filters and cools the smoke before it enters your lungs. 

But that’s not all it does — the liquid in your hookah base also helps to create the dense, textured, milky smoke that you get from hookah, which is unique from the smoke of any other smoking method.

Together, with the benefits of cooler, filtered, denser, smoother smoke, the liquid in your hookah base plays a pretty large role in the overall hookah experience.

Without liquid in your base, the smoke you would get would be hotter, harsher, less flavorful, less dense, and less filtered, which could leave you with a different experience altogether. 

Can You Only Use Water For Hookah? Are There Other Options?

So now that we understand what the liquid in your hookah is there for, it is time to know why and how water became the standard base liquid for hookah.

Well, the first answer is that water is basically the standard liquid for everything. 

But beyond that, water is a great choice for a hookah base liquid because it is clean and neutral-tasting. This means that water allows the flavor of the shisha that you are smoking to ring out loud and clear without any additional muddling of flavors by the base liquid.

Water is also cheap, you can use tap or filtered water, but you don’t need to be using super expensive bottled water for a good smoke out of your hookah. 

That said, there are a ton of other options out there for your hookah base liquid besides just water that can add some more fun and funky features to your hookah smoke. 

Below are a few of the most popular options, and their benefits and drawbacks.

Fruit Juice

One of the more popular water alternatives for hookah base liquids is fruit juice. You can use basically any kind of fruit juice that you want in your hookah base to add in and layer on more fruity flavors — our personal favorite is orange juice (sans pulp unless you want way extra clean-up). 

Using fruit juice is a great choice if you are smoking a fruit-forward shisha that you want to highlight. With the base of fruit juice, your smoke will take on additional flavors of the juice before it enters your mouth and lungs.

But there are a few drawbacks to using fruit juice in your hookah base. First of all, fruit juices can be very concentrated in sugar, which makes them sticky, and can easily lead to the growth of mold in your base if you don’t clean it regularly.

Some users also say that the flavors added by fruit juice are too overpowering or too sweet for their taste. 

If you are going to use fruit juice in your hookah base, a great way to alleviate both of these problems is to dilute your fruit juice, using half water and half juice. This decreases the sugar concentration, which can keep the sweetness factor down and make for easier clean-up.


Another commonly used liquid for hookah bases is soda. There are a lot of different flavors of soda out there, and the flavor that is added to your smoke depends a lot on what flavor of soda you use.

Using an orange, grape, or lemon-lime flavored soda will impart some delicious but very sweet fruit flavors to your smoke. 

Using a cola or Dr. Pepper, on the other hand, can add some more herbal, nutty, and vanilla flavors to your smoke.

But the other, and major, benefit to using soda is the added carbonation can make a fizzier, zingier smoke. If you are a big fan of carbonation, you should at least try using soda or carbonated water in your hookah once.

But there are downsides to soda as well. Some people actually hate fizziness added to the smoke, since it can be perceived as harsher or more intense. It can also be a very sweet additive. And just like fruit juice, soda is sticky and sugary, making it a real pain to clean. 

Thankfully, you can use the same dilution hack for your soda to tame the flavor and additions so you get the mix just right.

Wine (Use Carefully)

Another common water alternative for hookah base liquids is wine. Both red and white are popular options that can give an extra flavor kick to your shisha.

When using wine, your smoke will take on some of the additional wine flavors. Slight notes of flavors are not very well imparted into the smoke, however, so don’t feel like you should be using super nice wine for this, even a cheap bottle will do.

Just like the other methods, you need to make sure to clean your base thoroughly after each use to ensure the cleanliness of your vase, and with wine especially, cleaning can help prevent flavor ghosting in future smoke sessions.

It’s also noting that while you won’t get hammered, you’re still ultimately delivering some alcohol to your bloodstream in the form of vapor being absorbed through your lungs. Be aware of how you feel with each pull as you start out, and slow down if you start to feel off or lightheaded.


And last but not least, we have milk.

You read the right — we said milk. 

This one is a pretty controversial choice but is also one of the more commonly appreciated alternatives amongst die-hard hookah smokers.

Adding milk or a few splashes of heavy cream to your hookah base can give a creamier taste and texture to your hookah smoke, which goes very well with more modern, dessert-flavored shisha, like Eternal Smoke’s Milkin Cookies

That said, you should be careful when preparing a base of only milk. If you have ever blown bubbles in your milk, you know that milk holds on to the air bubbles very well, which can create a spillover that gets milk in your house, which is not easy to clean.

Opt for just a few splashes of milk or cream in a base of water for the optimal flavor and texture enhancement, and don’t forget to clean your base afterward. 

Hookah Base Liquids: The Takeaways

The liquid in your hookah base is super important — it is what makes your hookah a hookah.

The liquid in your base is there to cool down and filter the smoke before it enters your lungs. Water is the traditional choice for its availability and neutrality, but there are tons of other options you could use instead.

Fruit juice, milk, wine, and soda are all common options that people use as hookah base liquids instead of or in addition to water. Using any of these liquids will impart another layer of flavor and texture to your smoke that a lot of hookah smokers enjoy quite a bit.

Good luck with your flavor experimentation, and keep checking back at our blog for more info to help enhance your hookah experience. 



Putting Wine In The Hookah's Base | Hookah.org

How Much Water in the Hookah Base? | Hookah.org

20 Substitutes For Water in The Hookah | Iced Smoking Pro

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