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Old January 21st, 2008, 02:17 PM
FURsAKeN's Avatar
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Hookah Enthusiast
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Chandler, AZ
Posts: 1,087
Default Metal and Your Hookah.

I know there are alot of questions concerning various metals used in making a hookah. So I will be answering some common questions along with some background knowledge.

What types of metals are used to make hookahs?
The most common are Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Brass, and some copper.

Identification of Metal
You will never know the true material used in the construction of your hookah until you get past the plating. The plating is just a layer of metal that has been anodized on to the base metal to offer protection or just to give it a nice finish. But here is a way to identify your metal just by color and feel.

Aluminum - Has a light gray appearance when unfinished, unbroken surface. Normally white when newly fractured or given a newly filed/sanded surface. A very light metal and relatively strong metal. It is an expensive metal depending on the series/quality, but easy to fabricate. Non-Ferrous.

Stainless Steel - Has a dark grey appearance when unfinished and has unbroken surface Medium gray tone when newly fractured and bright silvery gray when newly surfaced when filed or sanded. Stainless is a heavier metal and abit more expensive to fabricate. A ferrous metal and will easily magnetize.

Brass - Reddish yellow, yellow-green, or brown appearance when unfinished and unbroken. Red to yellow when newly fractured, and reddish yellow to yellowish white when newly filed or sanded. Brass is a very soft and ductile metal, works with ease and easy manipulated. Problem is metal can be too soft, easily dented and dinged. Becomes expensive overtime because it is so soft. Non-Ferrous.

Copper - Reddish brown to green color when unfinished and unbroken. Bright red when newly fractured and freshly filed. Copper is a very versatile metal and is very ductile, malleable, strong, and easily machined. Very inexpensive to fabricate and easily used. Non-Ferrous.

Should be every hookah goer’s nightmare, besides breaking a base or running out of shisha. Corrosion is when a metal begins to oxidize and break down in composition. Brass and copper normally create "Verdigris" when breaking down, ferrous' metal equivalent to rust. Verdigris a greenish-white substance, chalky in feel, and sometimes bitter in taste. It can be dangerous to your health if left unchecked and also can cause your stem and various components to become brittle and fail.
We all know what rust is, and if you don't. Hurt yourself for the greater good.

Preventing Corrosion
There are many ways to prevent corrosion, but nothing is 100% unless you paint it or anodize it. Your rig will corrode over time and you can count on it, like dying and spam. And cookies...
Most common way to prevent corrosion is to prevent scratching or abrasion upon the newly anodized surface. Also cleaning your hookah greatly comes into play and here is why. Letting your hookah sit overnight or for a few hours before tending to it after a great session can be a helping hand to corrosion. Wash your hookah with a liquid with a near neutral pH balance like water, lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar. Avoid heavy bases and acids like beer and compound cleaners. These can actually act as a catalyst and drastically speed up oxidation.
Another great way to combat corrosion is to force dry your hookah. This is accomplished by wiping it down after cleaning it and forcing air through it using hair dryer of setting it by a vent. The less amount of time water has time to sit on your hookah, the less you risk for corrosion.
Verdigris is easily removed with a small wire brush and baking soda or lemon juice. Don't be afraid to use some elbow grease on it.

Is it harmful to smoke from copper?
This as been a long debated subject, and will continue to be. There is no long term research on the side effects of smoking from copper. There are many different grades of copper and each one acts differently when used in different processes and functions, so studying the metal has been hard.
I will give you my personal opinion, but be aware I am not a scientist nor a doctor, just another welder.
I do believe that copper is harmful when heated and if becomes oxidized, and using copper in a hookah will only increase your exposure limit to it. That amount could be the needed amount to take you under, use caution. I will leave it at that.

"People that live in houses that still have copper plumbing are exposed to higher levels of copper than most people, because copper is released into their drinking water through corrosion of pipes.
Long-term exposure to copper can cause irritation of the nose, mouth and eyes and it causes headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea. Intentionally high uptakes of copper may cause liver and kidney damage and even death. Whether copper is carcinogenic has not been determined yet.
There are scientific articles that indicate a link between long-term exposure to high concentrations of copper and a decline in intelligence with young adolescents. Whether this should be of concern is a topic for further investigation."
- Lenntech Water Treatment & Air Purification

FDA has done its own research on Copper and allied uses, but I am having trouble recovering it. I will post it as soon as I can acquire it.

Aluminum Foil
This is by far the greatest invention besides beer, sliced bread, condoms, and skateboarding.
The exposure when using foil is there. There is transfer of chemical that burn off the foil and into the water. This is where most of them are caught and trapped into the water, but you will still pull some into your lungs. The burn off isn't in great amounts, cause the coals will essentially burn majority of chemicals of within a few minutes. The overall exposure is extremely slight and insignificant.
Keep enjoying that great invention.

These are just some questions I have noticed and I would like to address them fully. If you have any comments, corrections, disagreements, and questions feel free to PM me or post them here. I will be adding to this topic more and more..


Last edited by FURsAKeN; February 27th, 2008 at 11:32 PM.
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