Q&A: What do you Put in a Hookah?

Written by Jacob - Hookah Enthusiast

Last updated May 11, 2023

Hookah smoking is a unique experience that has won the hearts of many around the world. Regardless of nationality, culture, profession, or other factors, a lot of different people nowadays have incorporated hookah smoking into their lives as an experience to be shared with friends and family or experienced solo.

Apart from other joys of smoking hookah, the hookah world is extremely diverse and rich. There are so many different hookah types to smoke from, a vast range of shisha flavors, but that’s not all.

There are also a ton of extra ingredients you can put in your hookah base to enhance the taste and the overall effect of hookah smoking. But what are these ingredients? What do you put in a hookah to make smoking even better?

A lot of hookah smokers ask themselves these questions in their exploration of turning hookah smoking into a brilliant and diverse experience. This is why we’ve created a list of different ingredients you can put in your hookah to get a completely new result.

List of things you can put in a hookah base:

What you can put in a hookah?

In short, you can put merely anything in hookah and still enjoy the outcome. You can play around with different fruits, liquids like milk, tea, and juice, you can add in your favorite herbs, coffee, ice, and so much more.

There are no boundaries and as long as the ingredients you’ve chosen are safe to insert in a hookah base, you’re good to go. I’ve prepared a list of the most popular things people put inside their hookahs but don’t let the list restrict your creativity.

Be bold and try new things. However, do your research in advance and try to find as much information as possible on how the ingredient will change the effect of the hookah. For instance, alcohol can make you feel a bit dizzy and can make the smoke rather heavy. Also, make sure to thoroughly clean your hookah after every use, especially if you’re adding ingredients rich in sugar.

Without further ado, here are some of the cool things you can try.

1. Milk

Milk in hookah bases is the second most popular liquid option after water. It is officially used to serve hookahs in specialized bars and lounges around the world. Its neutral flavor doesn’t change the flavors in the bowl but it does offer thicker clouds and a richer experience.

Keep in mind, however, that you can’t rely entirely on milk in hookah for thick smoke. It will also depend on the way you’ve packed your bowl and how you’re regulating heat. It’s important to consider that milk does heat up while you smoke. Keep your hookah maintained well and clean the milk after every use to avoid long-term smells.

2. Ice

Adding ice to your hookah base is a must for some hookah smokers and quite a popular option around the world. It cools the water and makes the smoke chillier for some time.

This is a highly preferred option in warm regions or during hot seasons as it’s a true pleasure to inhale cold smoke that is rich in flavor. Apart from its cooling effects, ice can also decrease the smoke’s harshness.

However, make sure you’re adding ice properly and be careful when putting it in the vase. The colder the glass is, the higher chance there is of cracking.

3. Fresh Juice

Once you gain more experience with hookah smoking, you are likely to discover several fruit flavors that are your favorite ones. You can boost the flavors even more by including fruit juice of choice based on your base.

Some of the juices that have been tried are orange, apple, cranberry, banana, blueberry, and more. Whether you like this addition to your hookah base will entirely depend on the taste. Some find the flavor too strong, while others absolutely love it

Keep in mind that fruit juice is usually very sweet and there’s a chance of the shisha flavors becoming less distinctive. In addition, the large quantity of sugar found in fruit juice is likely to have negative results for your base. It will get sticky over time and there’s a high chance of mold growth.

If you do decide to experiment with fruit juice in your hookah base, make sure to thoroughly clean it after every use.

4. Wine

Other than water, milk, or other alcohol, you can also opt-in for a whole new hookah experience by adding wine to your hookah base. Try one of your favorite red wines, a rose, or perhaps good Pinot Grigio and enjoy the enhanced taste. If you choose one of the reds or roses, you’ll also benefit from a beautiful color change.

Although you may thinkthat the quality of the wine won’t affect the hookah experience that much, this is not true. Pick a high-quality wine to create the perfect balance and enjoy mesmerizing results.

5. Vodka or other alcohol

Alcohol in hookah is a popular scenario. People have experimented with vodka and different types of alcohol like tequila, gin, and whiskey as an addition to the hookah base. Any type of alcohol will introduce a real change in the ultimate flavor of the bowl. You can also expect a gentle “kick” from hookah smoking with tobacco.

However, similarly to fruit juice, alcohol does contain a lot of sugar, meaning that it’s an absolute must to deep clean the hookah base after consumption.

Furthermore, putting alcohol in hookah means that you’ll inhale alcohol vapors, which is neither pleasant nor healthy.

6. Fruit and alcohol cocktails

There is so much room for experimenting when it comes to putting cocktails in your hookah base. The opportunities are merely endless! Of course, it’s natural to try your favorite cocktails first. For example, the Margarita is a perfect bonus to your hookah base as it’s simple to create and it serves as a nice substitute for water.

Another popular cocktail to add to your hookah base is Russian hookah water. Simply mix 50% coffee, 10% vodka, and 40% milk to your hookah base.The result resembles a White Russian cocktail but is a bit more refreshing and gentle.

7. Fresh Herbs

Herbs like mint, basil, and other scented and refreshing herbs can all be mixed in with other ingredients in your hookah base. Of course, you can also try herbal tea. The results are often tasty and refreshing but that’s not the only reason hookah smokers try this.

Adding herbs to your hookah base will prevent you from suffering from a nicotine hangover if you smoke more than usual.

8. Sliced fresh or frozen fruits

If you want to enjoy a stunning visual presentation and enhanced tastes, sliced fresh or frozen fruits are your top choice. You can add anything from berries and oranges to lemons and limes.

Adding frozen tropical fruits to your hookah base is an incredible way to cool down during the summer and enjoy a relaxing evening with friends. It will also provide a fancy look and create a magical tropical experience that you’ll want to experience over and over again.

9. Coffee

For the coffee-lovers out there, you can enjoy your favorite coffee scent and flavor by adding it to your hookah base. You can also use coffee creamers. As you can imagine, both the scent and flavor of coffee are strong and this could lead to significant changes in your shisha flavors. If you’re already using a coffee blend, chances are that you won’t be able to distinguish the difference during the inhale.

On the other hand, there is a range of different coffee creamers that you could try. The majority of coffee blenders are dairy products, which means that you’ll have to do some extra cleaning after hookah smoking.


As you can see, there is a myriad of opportunities when it comes to spicing up your hookah experience and adding ingredients to your base. There is no right or wrong answer to the question what do you put in a hookah base. The choice of ingredients will entirely depend on your personal taste and preference.

There are hookah smokers who prefer a rich and enhanced taste, while others prefer a more mild and casual smoke. The choice of ingredients will also depend on the season and the climate. For instance, adding frozen fruits to your hookah base can certainly help cool you down during a hot summer day.

Hookah smoking offers a beautiful experience as adding different things to your hookah base doesn’t only change the smoke itself, but the appearance as well. If you’re having friends over for a night, why not create a tropical hookah look by adding fresh berries, watermelon, pineapple, or other fruits to your hookah?

Remember, the opportunities are infinite and it’s up to you to use your imagination and try out new things. We hope that the ideas found in this article will help you explore new hookah base alternatives.

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