How-to Store Shisha Tobacco & Charcoal
A lot of hookah culture is based on personal choice and experience. You pick which hookah based on size, aesthetics or brand. You might choose your bowls based on trials and tribulations.
There are basics to loading a bowl and heat management, but it's common for those basics to be dialed in to your own liking after setting up your own hookah for the first time.
What about those three or four tins of shisha you've opened to create your own favorite blend? Are you like me where you just tend to leave them in their respective tins with the bags cut open, or are you a collector with more than a couple handfuls of flavors in their own storage containers organized by flavor type?
Have you thought about where you're storing your coals? Do you just cut the flaps off of the box and pick from the top? Are they sitting in your garage in your shisha drawer?
These things are sometimes overlooked, and good'ol science peaks its head in to say hello when your coals aren't lighting right, lasting long or your shisha seems to be losing flavor. Here are some things to consider when storing your supplies.
Keep Your Shisha Tobacco Sealed
There's nothing wrong with keeping your shisha tobacco in the manufacturers' packaging it ships in, and I find myself doing this more than often. It's easy; open the container, pull a little bit for a bowl and close it back up.
This method makes sense if you've got smaller sizes or if you smoke often and tend to use up shisha pretty quick. Most smaller containers/boxes don't seal well for long durations and the interior foil wrappers can get messy.
The best way to keep shisha fresh is to use a resealable bag or container. This is especially helpful when you have larger containers like a 100g or 250g (or that kilo of Double Apple from last year you have on hand just in case - we'll talk about that later).
Putting together this kind of setup is nice because later as you restock your collection you already have containers dedicated for shisha. Not only will you help prolong the life of your shisha but it's also nice to know at a glance what you have and what you're running low on.
Where should I Store My Shisha Tobacco?
Shisha is pretty hardy but it is made from natural elements, and just like anything else organic its environment needs to be taken into account when storing. The ideal place to keep your shisha is in a dry, neutral temperature space.
What does that mean? Your shisha is most comfortable in an environment where you would be comfortable; room temperature with low humidity.
Refrigerate after opening? Don't, and definitely don't consider the freezer. Keep the fridge space for your eggs and ice cream.
There are no benefits to keeping your shisha in the refrigerator unless the only place you have to keep your hookah supplies is in the garage, and if you have to, keep the cool setting to the least cool option. As far as the freezer goes, it's just a bad idea.
The extreme cold will dry out the tobacco and it will also start to affect the oils in the molasses. It also won't make your shisha mintier or cooler during the smoke session.
When you pull that shisha out to smoke, not only will temperature shock go into play but the flavor will have lost its richness. Dry, flavorless puffs of smoke are no bueno.
Does Shisha Tobacco Expire?
This is a common question and more so a thought most of us sort of gloss over. Shisha does not expire but it can degrade to a point where it's not worth smoking. The shelf life to keep shisha usable is hard to pin down. A good estimate would be roughly two to three years if stored properly.
Some manufacturers will have dates on their packaging, and these dates are typically "Best Sell By" dates - presuming you'll use the shisha within a "normal" time frame after that date. Other stickers may say "Exp. Date" which are dates the manufacturer suggests you use the shisha by to experience the best possible flavor.
Shisha is made from tobacco leaves mixed with a sugar-based molasses and vegetable glycerin. All of those components can break down over extended periods of time. The smoke you produce with a hookah occurs when the molasses on the tobacco leaves volatizes. Older shisha can dry out causing a loss of flavor, and just like any other organic substance shisha can be prone to things like mold or fermentation. Your defense against these things is air-tight storage in a room temperature location.
How to Store Hookah Charcoal
Hookah coals don't really get talked about when it comes to storage, but there are some little things you can do to help them stay "fresh" after you tear open that bag.
Obviously you want your coals to stay dry. Done, right? Well, consider where your coals are for a second. I've lived in apartments for most of my adult life where all of my hookah supplies were under one roof in the same environmental conditions as everything else, keeping things simple.
A couple different roommates and house or two later, I started to notice the placement of my household coals becoming an issue with the quality they were providing.
Living here in Texas you wouldn't think we would have too much fluctuation with humidity, but coals that sat next to the burner on the porch tended to take longer to light because they had absorbed moisture from the air.
The enclosed shed in the backyard that turned into the "hookah space" turned out not to be great for keeping coals dry either, same with the garage. The coals that would mysteriously move around were the ones that always had issues. It seems like I was heating up two extra coals every time just to have enough heat on hand for one bowl.
The bottom line with coals is to keep them as dry as possible. Whether it means putting them in a container of their own which isn't their original box, or keeping them stored in their own spot, keep'em away from any place where they can absorb moisture.
Do You Know How to Store Your Hookah Stuff?
Now, don't feel like you need to immediately go and get a dozen storage containers or throw out your junk cabinet (but maybe it's time) for your hookah stuff. Take these insights into mind the next time you crack open a new jar of Trifecta or tear open a bag of Azure. Remember your coals can use some extra love too. Just like remembering to clean your hookah, don't forget to properly store the other half of the equation: your shisha and coals.
If you have any other hookah storage questions be sure to leave us one in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
- Double Allen