Rant: Hookah hoses
This is a rant I posted a little while back on my hookah blog and I felt that it was worth a post. I hope you enjoy.
"Countless times have I seen the question “how do I tell if my hose is washable?”
There is a very easy answer to this often asked question. If you have to ask then assume it’s not.
Washable hoses are a fairly new development in the world of hookah smoking. Old style hoses are made of leather and have a coiled metal spring running the entire length to maintain the shape of the hose and to prevent it from collapsing when a smoker takes a draw. That design has worked for an extremely long time but it was assumed that after a while the hoses would need replacement. Unprotected metal and leather are not the most resilient materials against the destructive power of moisture. Anyone who has owned cheap leather clothes should know the problems a little rain can pose if the clothing is not properly treated with saddle soap or another similar product. I do not recommend trying to use saddle soap on your hoses.
Now I am really hoping that this is not a shock to anyone reading this blog but hookah “smoke” has a very high moisture content. That is why the clouds are so dense and visible. A cigarette smoker and take in the same volume of air but seem to breath far less smoke when exhaling. The smoke is just less visible because the moisture content is so much lower. The “smoke” produced by a hookah is much more accurately called vapor as it is vaporized moisture from the honey, molasses and glycerin mixture. This high moisture eventually rusts out the old hoses and eats the leather. Nasty right? I live on the water in New England so if I leave a traditional hose out without ever using it rust will occur and the leather will break down. Might take a while but this is the area that eats cars alive just based on the salt content in the air. I prefer washable hoses over traditional.
As a quick aside do not assume that the vapor from a hookah is any less dangerous than actual smoke. The only way in which it is proven to be less dangerous is the heat you are inhaling.
Back to the subject at hand.
Washable hoses are a nice advancement and every company producing such a hose is very proud to force that information down your throats. Frankly there should be no question as to the type of hose because being washable is a huge selling point. Every hookah I order I usually pay the extra money to upgrade to a true washable hose. If a hookah comes with washable hoses it will be well known and many people will buy it just based on that fact.
There are some complaints regarding the modern washable hoses though.
Firstly is the designs. They all look the same. Many people buy hookahs with a distinct look and would love to see some variation in the hoses as well. Not everyone wants a KM blue double pear with a blue razan hose. Some people like to stand out a bit.
Second is the looser draw. I know what many of you are thinking “but i want to draw from a hose with the diameter of a pringles can. How can the larger gauge hoses have a problem?” There are advantages and disadvantages to both ideas. A larger gauge makes for an easier draw but for those that are not drawing lungfuls of smoke each time this is pointless. With some more traditional smokes it’s almost impossible to actually draw that deeply and the thicker gauge means you need to pull more times to clear the smoke from the hose and actually draw new smoke into it. It’s fluid mechanics at it’s most basic. The cloud seeker though will enjoy a large gauge hoses to a point. Once you reach a certain size it’s an impediment unless you have godly lung capacity. I am an actor and singer and find the current average inner diameter to suit me just fine but i know of many people that the draw is too loose and they cant draw new smoke without rapid puffing which can lead to hookah sickness and a far less enjoyable experience.
Lastly is the idea of flavor buildup. I am not a fan of this concept. Firstly a washable hose can build up flavor as well it just takes longer since the leather absorbs moisture more readily than plastic. Second, I like the idea of being able to get the gunk out and starting fresh if a hoses ever has an off taste to me. I understand that some people like the buildup effect but I smoke too many flavors to have one hose for each type and I enjoy my flavors to be crisp and accurate.
If one company could design a line of washable hoses that offered varied draws and varied designs I believe that they would dominate over other companies for a short period until they all followed suit. I would absolutely love to have a washable hose in a more Syrian style with a tighter draw than any of the four razan/nammor hoses i have can give me but this will not be possible until they know we want them.
If you are interested in a hose with some personality and a little something different then we need to let the companies know this. They do what they think people want and the overwhelming voice is one of “A more open draw!” and “Make it look like a KM hose!” so that is what we get. These companies are run by people with an invested interest in what is a small community of hobbyists in the western hemisphere. If we speak they will listen."