What’s the difference between an e-cig and a hookah?

What’s the difference between an e-cig and a hookah?

Have you ever tried a hookah or seen a hookah lounge? It’s a popular past time that was around long before e-cigarettes. It shares some similarities with vaping, so you might be wondering what the differences are and which one is better to indulge in.

A brief history lesson

Vaping is actually a surprisingly old past time. The ancient Egyptians invented an early form of it all the way back in the 5th century B.C, whilst the modern tobacco cigarette wasn’t invented untilt he 20th century.

Hookah was first invented about two millenniums ago, in Afghanistan. It was popular as a convenient device for smoking tobacco, and it eventually spread throughout the world.

Hookah vs E-cigarettes

Whilst hookah’s and e-cig’s share some important similarities, such as both creating vapour instead of smoke, being used as a delivery method for nicotine or cannabis and delivering a flavour hit, there are a few important differences that you should understand about hookahs and e-cigarettes.

They use different methods

The way that e-cigarettes and hookahs create vapour differs between the two devices. Hookahs heat vapour with hot coals, which is delivered via a water pipe to the users through a mouth piece. E-cigarettes are battery operated and use a heating coil to heat the vapour, which in then inhaled by the user.

The vapour contains different ingredients

Hookahs use something called shisha tobacco and flavourings such as honey or glycerin, this is very different from e-juice which usually consists of a mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavour concentrate and liquid nicotine.

Nicotine consumption

E-juices come in a range of different nicotine content levels, which give e-cigarette users greater control of the amount of nicotine that they consume. There are measurements ranging between 0-12 mg that suit every level of tolerance to nicotine, or let people who don’t like nicotine engage in the activity. Hookah’s don’t give users the same level of control, most users will get very little control over the amount of nicotine they inhale when using a hookah at a hookah lounge.


The mode and level of difficulty of operation differs between e-cigs and hookahs. E-cigs are very straightforward to operate, once the battery is connected you usually only need to press a button and inhale. Your e-liquid will heat and vapourise with very little effort, no expert knowledge required! Hookahs can be a little more complicated. Hookahs have many more working parts than an e-cigarette, including hot coals. If the coals get too hot, the shisha can get burned and ruin the taste of the vapour, this is called a dry hit and it’s very unpleasant. Dry hits can burn your throat. Letting coals die down can also ruin the experience- hookahs are a bit of a balancing act!


Hookahs aren’t really portable devices. They’re big and usually set up in a lounge setting, so that people sit around in a circle to inhale the vapour. E-cigarettes can be so tiny that they fit in your pocket. Different people have different preferences, but e-cigs are generally better for daily use and enjoyment.

As much as there are a few differences between them, they are very similar and achieve a similar effect. For both e-cigs and hookahs, you will have to stock up on e-juice or shisha, coals and other ingredients. Both devices will require a certain level of maintenance, and both devices come in a variety of designs. Hookahs can come in a range of colours and configurations, e-cigarettes come in many different shapes and sizes, and achieve different results.



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