Re: Tobacco free shisha?!?
Here's my own, non-scientific opinion:
First of all, most hookah tobacco contains a minimal amount of tar, if any at all. The clouds you are breathing are mostly water vapor. Tar is produced by combustion, at about 800 degrees, much hotter than the bowl of your hookah will ever get.
Furthermore, most of the Moassels (What some call 'shisha') smoked in the western world are washed, and contain only a minimal amount of nicotine.
I've smoked hookah for seven years. For about the past year I've smoked an average of three bowls a day, I would not call myself addicted. I recently took a week off while moving. I had no cravings or need to get a fix in that time. NONE. I think it's safe to say that unless you are severely prone to addiction that the hookah is not habit forming.
Herbal moassels are a new product, and there is little to no science on them. Most of them, including soex, are made of sugarcane bagasse. That is the crushed cane splinters left over from sugar production. Look at those ingredients, it's pig latin! Workers who handle a lot of bagasse can develop pulmonary fibrosis. There are some who believe that smoking the herbal moassel can have the same effect. For what it's worth, I think it's B.S. Pulmonary fibrosis is caused when minute particles of the cane build up in the lungs after being inhaled. The people who develop this condition work in factories processing thousands of pounds of the stuff a day. I can't imagine that much of the material makes it all the way down the stem of your hookah, through the water, all the way up the hose, and into your lungs. You'd have to smoke tons of the stuff to get the same effect.
Is using a hookah completely safe? Probably not. Nothing is healthy when overused. Is it safer than other forms of tobacco use? Most likely. It's the same as enjoying a few beers with friends. You can enjoy it without taking it to the point where it trashes your body.
As another point, I personally believe the unhealthiest part of using a hookah is the coals. All coals produce carbon monoxide in small amounts. Cheap coals, especially quicklights, have chemicals in them that can compound the negative effects on the human body. Rather than concerning yourself with the tobacco, you'd do well to purchase the highest quality coals you can. I personally believe that the coal itself is more harmful to the body than the tobacco. But once again, moderation.
Keep in mind that most all of the negative press about tobacco relates directly to cigarettes. Cigarettes are made from the cheapest cut of tobacco available, doused in chemicals to make them more addictive (And as a side effect, more harmful), and then burned at a very high heat(7-900 degrees). Moassel is made from a higher grade of leaf, with minimal harmful additives, heated indirectly at a low temperature (2-300 degrees), and water filtered.
Darth Coyote, Executor of EGOB and the Black Leaf Brotherhood.