[su_heading size=”40″]The E-Hookah and Shisha Pen Review[/su_heading]
We take a look at the E-Hookah, or Shisha Pen as is it also referred to, the latest new craze hitting the market. We look at what e-hookahs are, how they work, the possible health implications and lastly review some of the best shisha pens on the market.
For E-Hookah reviews please scroll down to the bottom.
[su_heading size=”20″]What is a Shisha Pen or E-Hookah?[/su_heading]
E-Hookahs are still a very new concept. As you can see on Google trends below, the phrase E-Hookah didn’t really exist until late 2012. Since then its popularity has exploded with sales figures increasing by triple digits each year. These sweet tasting vapor pens come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours.
When people talk about e-hookah pens or sticks, they are mostly referring to a pen-like stick as can be seen in the picture below. These devices look very similar to e-cigarettes with the main distinction being that e-hookah pens do not contain nicotine. Instead they just contain a mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine and flavourings. So actually they are just electronic cigarettes without the nicotine. However not all e-hookahs are nicotine free so be careful to check before you buy.
[su_heading size=”20″]Hookah Pens[/su_heading]
In its most common form, the e-hookah pen as mentioned above looks like a normal e-cigarette. These hookahs are often disposable and once they run out, after 300-500 puffs, you throw them out. These sticks often come in a range of sweet, brightly packed flavours. These hookah pens operate using a battery to heat up a coil, which in turn heats the e-liquid. The e-liquid is then turned into a vapor which is inhaled by the consumer.
[su_heading size=”20″]Refillable Tank E-Hookahs[/su_heading]
Some hookah pens are also slightly bigger and resemble a refillable tank e-cigarette as seen below. These tank hookahs require you to fill them with your own shisha eliquid. This is basically an ego type e-cigarette just without the nicotine in the e-liquid. The e-liquids usually come in a range of fruity flavours and the devices are rechargeable, allowing you to use them time after time.
[su_heading size=”20″]E-Hookah Pipes[/su_heading]
Lastly there is the e-hookah pipe, which mimics a normal shisha hookah (see pics below). Shisha hookahs are an ancient form of smoking, which is very prevalent in the Middle East. It is now also becoming a very popular trend across Europe and the US, with many people visiting shisha bars to smoke shisha with their friends. The e-hookah looks like a normal shisha hookah, but is powered by a battery instead of using hot charcoal heated tobacco. Instead of the flavour coming from the flavoured charcoals, you instead put a shisha e-liquid inside the e-hookah to produce the flavour. This e-liquid is then heated up and turned into vapor, which is then inhaled through the pipe as you would with a normal hookah.
[su_heading size=”20″] Criticisms towards E-Hookahs[/su_heading]
The main criticism that e-hookahs face, is that people are afraid that their use, will lead to the normalization of smoking. This is particularly the case for younger children and those under the age of 18. Researchers say e-hookahs could provide them with a gateway into smoking normal cigarettes or e-cigarettes filled with nicotine. Despite this criticism there is a lack of evidence to show that e-hookahs are in fact a gateway to switching to normal cigarettes or e-cigs.
Jacob Sullum in his piece on E-Hookahs on Forbes.com wrote the following: “E-Cigarettes are bad because they look like cigarettes; e-hookahs are worse because they don’t”. It’s the fact e-hookahs look so colourful and “cool” that children are starting to use them. The fruity flavours and colourful packaging have been widely criticised as being aimed towards children. However, it’s not just children that enjoy these fruity flavours. I personally love fruity ecigs flavours. E-Hookahs should in my opinion be limited to over 18s only to avoid children purchasing them and potentially moving onto the real thing or nicotine e-cigs.
[su_heading size=”20″]Are E-Hookahs Bad for You?[/su_heading]
E-Hookahs are often being marketed as being completely healthy and tobacco free. Whilst they are tobacco free they cannot be described as being completely healthy. However when compared with normal tobacco cigarettes and normal shisha it can be said they are a healthier alternative and this is why they are often labelled as a healthy smoking substitute.
The following points are often used by e-hookah firms to highlight the health benefits of e-hookahs over normal cigarettes:
- E-hookahs do not contain nicotine and tobacco and do not produce any tar when used
- E-hookahs only consist of 4 main ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavourings and lastly water. Compare this with the thousands of chemicals that go into one normal cigarette
- The second hand vapor produced by e-hookahs/e-cigs has been described as having no apparent risk to human health (McAuley et al., 2012)
To get a perspective on how healthy e-hookahs are, we compare them to some other forms of smoking/vaping. Let’s first take a look at normal shisha smoking. Many people underestimate the health implications of shisha smoking and think it is a much healthier option compared with normal cigarettes. In fact according to Dr. Richard Hurt of the Mayo Clinic, one shisha session could be the equivalent to 10-40 cigarettes! If you were to compare e-hookahs to normal shisha then, they would appear to a much “healthier” option as e-hookahs lack tobacco and nicotine, both commonly found in normal shisha.
Also when compared to normal cigarettes, e-hookahs can be described as being a healthier option. As mentioned above they lack nicotine, tobacco, tar and hundreds of other carcinogenic substances.
Most E-hookahs lack the addictive substance nicotine, which is found in most e-cigarettes, but are otherwise the same as an e-cigarette. It would therefore be fair to say, that as e-hookahs do not contain nicotine, they are healthier than e-cigs.
[su_heading size=”20″]What’s the health risk then?[/su_heading]
The individual ingredients of e-hookahs (propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine and flavourings) have all been deemed by the FDA, as being safe for consumption. Great you might think, but when the FDA refers to them being fit for consumption, they mean in terms of ingestion (consumption through the stomach). There is still a lack of research on how they react with our lungs when inhaled. Studies by Goniewicz et al. 2013, on e-cigarettes showed that e-cig vapor did in fact contain small traces of formaldehyde which has been labelled by the US National Toxicology Program as a carcinogen. This study was undertaken on e-cig vapor with nicotine in it, so how much relevance it has on e-hookahs is unclear. The academia thus far, does not differentiate between e-cigarettes and e-hookahs. In every study e-hookahs are categorized as a type of e-cigarette. There is a distinct lack of research on e-hookahs, or e-cigs with zero nicotine, and the effects of inhaling the vapor produced by these devices.
Our conclusion on the health implications of e-hookahs is not a clear one. It is fairly obvious that you are inhaling substances into your lungs and as such this cannot be deemed as being “healthy”. What health problems it will cause, if any at all, is yet to be seen as there is still a lack of long term research on these devices. Whilst e-hookahs are most likely far healthier than normal cigarettes and shisha smoking, you are still putting yourself at risk. Whether that risk is the same risk as being a non-smoker, remains to be seen.
E-Hookahs taste great and are fun to use and you probably won’t have any issues if you use a few e-hookahs. We would however, not recommend anyone under the age of 18 using them, or those who do not usually smoke. We would recommend that only those who are looking to steer away from normal smoking, shisha, or e-cigs, use them. We can say that e-hookahs are probably less bad for you the aforementioned habits and thus you would be doing yourself a favour by switching.
We also recommend sticking to well-known reputable brands that lay an emphasis on quality. I would be careful about buying cheap e-hookahs on ebay etc. We have reviewed some good brands below and would recommend using those or other similar reputable firms.
Please note this is my personal opinion only, on the studies I have read and having tried e-hookahs myself. I am not a doctor or medicinal expert.
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[su_heading size=”40″]E-Hookah Reviews[/su_heading]
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