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24 Feb

Turn up the Base! Top 10 Things to Add to Your Hookah Base to Enhance the Experience

People are always asking us, “What else besides water can I put in my hookah base to add a dimension of flavor and thickness to the smoke?” Great question, and it’s one that we here at have toiled with for years. So without further ado here are the top ten things to add to your base to improve thickness of smoke and/or flavor:

Fruit Juice

10. Fruit Juice: I’m a sucker for fruit punch or any sweet tropical juice, but I also truly enjoy cranberry juice or lemonade in the base for the pleasant twinge of flavor they add. Cranberry is great because it’s not a common shisha flavor and mixes well with citrus, chocolate, or vanilla.

9. Soda: An easy way to up the level of sweetness to your smoke is by filling your base with your favorite soda. While we don’t really endorse any particular brand, orange soda will always hold memories of roller skating to disco music so it’s hard to pass on. (note: we recommend using flat soda, as the carbon dioxide in newly-opened sodas will “fizz” in the base and may get in your hoses)


8. Ice: The easiest and most common thing to add to your base. Ice is great because by cooling the smoke ever further, the smoke becomes smoother and easier to draw and in turn adds to the thickness of smoke. It’s important to remember to NOT clean your hookah base with warm water right after smoking with ice, as extreme temperature changes can jeopardize the structural integrity of the glass base.

7. Margarita Mix: Who doesn’t secretly dream of acoustic guitars and hammocks on the beach? Me neither, but I do enjoy a tall Margarita. Without wasting any tequila you can add some Margarita mix and ice to your base for that sweet, tangy key lime pie taste. It mixes great with strawberry shisha while not inhibiting any motor skills.


6. Grenadine or Simple Syrup: Lime Rickey’s can now be had in your hookah! All you need to do is add a little simple syrup to your base and your hookah can host a cornucopia of flavors that could never be rendered in shisha.

5. Wine: For aristocrats only. Wine in the base will not get you drunk, although it may leave you feeling silly for wasting wine. Nothing above table wine is recommended as you’ll still get the general flavor of wine; any subtlety of more expensive wines will go up in smoke.


4. Extracts: Bean or fruit extracts (vanilla, almond, lime, etc.) are dynamic additions to the water in your base. Only a few drops of any cooking grade extract can significantly alter the flavor of your smoke and enhance the experience.

3. Popsicles: The best of two great dimensions; the cooling affects of ice and the added flavor of fruit. Again we do not endorse any brand but green popsicles are the best!


2. Frozen Fruit: See above, only natural.

1. Altoids: Although we unusually do not endorse other companies, nobody does it better than Altoids. Adding a few curiously strong crushed mints to the water in the base (and, if you are so bold, ice as well) will leave you with a cool refreshing minty smoke.


And so there is our list of the best things to add to your hookah for a little extra kick. Please keep in mind that any time that you add something to your base, make sure to clean with extra careimmediately afterwards (warm water and lemon juice with baking soda work best, or natural Bling Hookah Cleaner). Since we’ve covered the good, please forgive the pessimist in me for quickly running over the bad:

Milk: Milk may do a body good but doesn’t do the same for your hookah. While we’ve heard people swear that smoking your hookah with milk in the base will create thicker clouds of smoke, we’ve found that the bubbles from the milk are easily drawn into the hoses of your hookah, quickly creating a sanitation issue and ruining any potential benefit. It also stains the base and leaves an unpleasant odor that’s hard to eradicate.

Edit: We’re talking about using nothing but milk in your hookah base. A few of you have emailed us saying that adding a small amount of milk to the water won’t cause bubbles to get in the hose. We advise to use milk at your own risk!

Beer: For all things beer is great for (making bad decisions, improving looks and humor, etc.) adding flavor to your hookah is not one of them. Again, the bubbles and smoke do not bode well for the flavor of your favorite lager or the life of your hookah.

If you have tricks or treats that we neglected to mention, please let us know and we will be happy to amend our list. As always, happy smoking!

42 Responses to “Turn up the Base! Top 10 Things to Add to Your Hookah Base to Enhance the Experience”

  1. 1
    Tatum Vay Says:

    I’m surprised that orange juice didn’t get a catagory of it’s own… Out of all the juices I’ve tried I feel like OJ brings out the flavors the best :)

    I also tried gatorade (in my lava lamp hookah, to give it a cool color; watch out for the article next week), which was refreshing as well :)

  2. 2
    Shisha Freak Says:

    How many ice cubes would you say should be added??? great list…i’ll have to try a few of these hehe

  3. 3
    Michael Reese Says:

    While I agree that the above list is good, the BEST ingredient has surely been left out. It is true that too much milk will make huge bubbles rendering the session useless, but milk is not the answer. The answer to a wonderful session, combined with clouds of immense proportions lies with a combination of 3 simple things.
    1. Water.
    2. Ice, lots of ice
    3. 1-2 TBL (depending on vase size and downstem length and available airspace in vase)

    The heavy whipping cream will take your session to the next level. This is the cream that is in the section with milk…not whip cream for pies. Basically it is the top layer of the milk when milking the cow. This cream has lots of fat to it,and when the smoke is filtered through the water/ice/cream mixture, some of the smoke bonds with the fat molecules enhancing the flavor and making the clouds substantially larger.

    Hookah set up is an art, not as simple as putting tobacco in the bowl and water in the vase. All things come into play including the size of the downstem, depth of downstem covered by mixture, available remaining airspace in jar, temperature of mixture, and even the relative humidity of the air around you can all impact the session greatly. An airconditioned environment will yield a much more flavorful session with larger clouds than a hot humid day ever will. Also, proper hose selection is really important. Finally, the type of bowl selected, the thickness of foil, the amount of heat, the placement of coals, and the proximity of the tobacco to the foil also play large roles in a great session!!! Last but not least, all hookahs are not created equal. Some have inner diamters too large and some too small, causing the velocity of air and smoke to be less than ideal. If anyone needs help with their sessions I can be contacted at I have been smoking and perfecting the art for a while, both here in the USA and all over Egypt!!! Ma Salama and happy Hookah Sessions!!! Michael

  4. 4
    Michael Reese Says:

    In my above post #3 should read 3. 1-2TBL Heavy Whipping Cream(depending on vase size and downstem length and available airspace in vase)

    It should be noted that with the cream you need to make sure it is thoughorly mixed with the water. It still can bubble but not like regular milk. You will have to adjust the amount of cream for your vase. Vases with larger air spaces and hookahs with longer downstems (so the liquid level is not so close to the top) work best with this. Also, the simple addition of a diffuser to the downstem quiets the hookah and adds to the seesion. A diffuser can be made with a ping pong ball by drilling a large hole for the downstem, and multiple 1/16″ holes all around the ball. I personally have made these and attached them to my downstem with silicon, making sure to let it cure for the proper time as indicated per instructions on packaging!!!

  5. 5
    Matt Says:

    Some of these are pretty cool, but I’m wondering if others (specially the sugary, sticky ones) could damage a hookah??

  6. 6
    emilie Says:

    I doubly recommend using FLAT soda. Some friends of mine used the bubbly and promptly realized that smoking + inhaling CO2 bubbles will severely reduce your oxygen levels… As they are biomedical engineers, I took them seriously when they said it posed a health risk!!

  7. 7
    Daniel Says:

    I often use jelly crystals adds a really nice sweetness and we always run cold water and ice here in Australia because it is so damn hot!!!

    Going to try the mint one sounds interesting

    Thanks for a good writeup

    Dan :D

  8. 8
    Jonathan the night guy Says:

    I think the one thing that you are missing is the Heba Diffuser.

    I know it’s not something technically added to the water, it’s something added in-to the water that elevates your sesh ~(as in session, yes I have it down to a 4 letter abbreviation for ‘hookah session’).

    Other than that, you covered the bases ;-)

  9. 9
    dustin Says:

    koolaid freakin delicious, cheap, easy to match up flavors, or mix i smoked watermelon strawberry and kiwi blended once, and had watermelon strawberry and kiwi koolaids mix in the base, then topped it off with a refreshing glass of what? thats right…you guessed it koolaid

  10. 10
    barkman173 Says:

    In response to dustin, #9…do you put sugar in when you mix the kool-aid? If sugar significantly improves the taste…would sugar water by itself help any flavors? If it doesn’t (in kool-aid), I would think it would be superfluous or possibly detrimental and would also make cleanup that much harder.

  11. 11
    ACC Says:

    I’ve always found a clear alcohol, like vodka or a light rum, goes very well with a bit of water and ice.

  12. 12
    jarrett Says:

    Though milk isn’t good in the base, if you’re feeling your inner child on a particular day, a glass of milk and a straw can be excellent amusement during a hookah session. I find it’s heightened even more with chocolate milk and mint shisha. Blow bubbles in the milk with the straw, and watch.

  13. 13
    Brit! Says:

    I second the koolaid suggestion in #9.

    To answer the question in #10, we don’t use sugar in ours, we just add the koolaid mix to the water in the base. I don’t know if the sugar makes a difference on way or the other, but I’d be interested to know if anyone does a comparison.

  14. 14
    Ben Says:

    Yea i Smoked it With fountain soda at work and i felt like i was dying it feels like your lungs are collapsing and you do not feel good for a while but i dont see why flat soda would be bad

  15. 15
    finrodue Says:

    that would make sense, if you get too much CO2 in your bloodstream your body interprets it as asphyxiation and you will likely freak out.

  16. 16
    Shisha Tip #1 « my-nation, gy-nation Says:

    [...] can always additives to the hookah water. This can be juice, wine, or [...]

  17. 17
    Mizunosan Says:

    I am a fan of Mediterranean cooking in general, so I found adding some rose or orange blossom water to the base also adds a nice flavor. I only add a couple tablespoons to water, since some combinations can be pretty overpowering.

    I have also tried some cooled herbal teas such as Tazo Passion, Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Spice, or Bigelow Peach. These also added a nice flavor, but I don’t add sugar to my teas.

  18. 18
    Matt Says:

    koolaid is amazing! fruit punch koolaid adds good flavor to anything fruit…and always ice. Never added sugar to the koolaid though but found no need to

  19. 19
    Ciao Says:

    I add about 1-2 teaspoons of peppermint extract to the water. It really does well mostly with the fruity/chocolaty shisha, otherwise it doesn’t compromise any other flavor it just adds a hint o’ mint.

  20. 20
    Check it Says:

    Aight, so if you add red bull, it tastes like smokey heaven. no lie. one time we also tried strawberry kiwi snapple…not bad, it was.

  21. 21
    Charles Says:

    I found out recently that Monster Energy (Green) and Monster Khaos make for some seriously thick clouds and for those of you who are college students and gamers like myself, the already delicious taste of your favorite “I’m soooooo not sleepin tonight” beverage is even better when accompanied by AlFakher Cherry! Another good one is BAWLS rootbeer and Pina Colada followed by BAWLS Regular (Blue Bottle) and Margarita. Happy not sleeping and happy smoking.


  22. 22
    justin Says:

    dropping a few pieces of candy in the bowl also works, much like alchohol, water breaks down the sugar, and juices of the candy its like a little vase of jungle juice. hahaha

    also u can do 50/50 on water and ur favorite energy drink, u wont obtain menough tourine or vitamins to really wake u up through the diffusion of the energy drink to the water, but it will be enough to give u that upbeat buzz feeling that some long for while at a kickback or hanging out with friends

  23. 23
    aj Says:

    i used just dtraight green monster before lots its so good and you get two flavors monster first while you inhale and the shisha flavor on the exhale so im a fan and it does give a different energy high so to speak

  24. 24
    Punkonjunk Says:

    Non dairy creamer. A couple tablespoons is generally enough. You want cheap, nockoff stuff – not fancy stuff. Preferably unsweetened, it seems to bubble less, and clean out more easily. Look in the ingredients: preferably, you want the offbrand one thickened with stuff that isn’t dry oils, that makes it gunky to clean out.

    You will get fucking thunder clouds. Stupid huge thunderclouds.

  25. 25
    Bveebs Says:

    Ive done a lemon lime soda in the base before (sprite, 7up, etc) and used half an apple as a bowl and put lemon shisha in it. TASTED LIKE LEMON SKITTLES!!!! So good! But when my dad brought home our first hookah we would put a shot of spiced rum or some apple wine in the base and smoke some double apple shisha. Never tried the altoids, so I must give that a try soon.

  26. 26
    Lucas S Says:

    10. No
    9. No
    8. Maybe
    7. No
    6. No
    5. No
    4. No
    3. No
    2. No
    1. No

    This hurt me a little inside.

  27. 27
    PMullins Says:

    Find a cheap brandy and throw it in the base, diluted if you wish, with a lemon or other sour shisha and it’s amazing. Did it a few times and some of the best sessions I’ve ever had.

  28. 28
    Freetime Says:

    Oh lawdy, i tried this pineapple, mango, orange juice with ice cubes and a strawberry shisha… I was in fruity smoke heaven! About to go to the store to find all things i can add to the base! :D

  29. 29
    DanceParty Says:

    I would like to mention that I did not see a significant difference when using the non-dairy creamer, although it did add a wonderful taste. Mixed with any of the citrus flavors, it was like a bar; IE, a lemon bar, a lime bar, etc.

  30. 30
    David Says:

    A flavorful herbal or fruit tea works amazingly well. Brew the tea and let it cool, ad add a ton of ice. Just DONT POUR HOT TEA INTO THE BASE! We were so excited with our new idea we broke it :( G2 works great as well!

  31. 31
    Tara Says:

    I’m trying cherry limeade Kool Aid with Al Fakher cherry, I used sugar and it’s tasty. I will probably skip the sugar next time, its starting to taste like bad cotton candy lol

  32. 32
    Russ Says:

    When it comes to beer in your hookah base, you wouldn’t want to use a standard beer like bud light. But a craft pale ale or IPA with a fruit shisa like citrus for a citrus beer. Tonight I used Kona Brewing Co. Big Wave Golden Ale with a pomegranate star buzz shisha.

  33. 33
    anuraag Says:

    There are a few others that everyone should try:
    1. Redull with ice
    2. Lemon juice + ice + water
    I’ve tried these try them

  34. 34
    Vaerceagoth Says:

    Another thing to keep in mind, the quality of the water you put in the base can have a drastic effect on the smoothness of the smoke. I was used to local tap water, then used fresh water from a clear river when I went camping not too long ago and the smoke was so much smoother. I still have half a 2 liter bottle left of the water that I’m trying to save.

  35. 35
    Ryan Says:

    About the popsicles this might be a dumb question but how would that work like water and popsicles or just popsicles?

  36. 36
    Katie Says:

    Haha, Ryan, you should probably put some water in there too!

  37. 37
    Madison Says:

    With the frozen fruit let it sit in that ice sparkiling water of a similar flavor to your fruit and the carbonation breaks down the fruit and after it goes flat pair with a mint sweetmellon or a strawberry and oh shit its delicious

  38. 38
    Alex the kid Says:

    yea iv just tried water and ice,more enjoyable that way and very very cloudy “kush hookah smokers”!thanks guys

  39. 39
    crazy Says:

    For those who like kool-aid and love orange or lime flavors in the base I would suggest Tang. Add water,lots of ice, and one scope of tang. It is fairly cheap and you can get it in bulk vs having to buy multiple packages of kool-aid. Also tang has a very unique flavor vs OJ or kool-aid.

  40. 40
    Christo Says:

    Hi I was wondering how will it work if you grow sugar crystals in the bottom and them just add water and smoke it. If someone has tried it lemme know, also if you guys have any other ideas, it would be nice to know what works and what is lekker.
    Contact me on

  41. 41
    Adam Says:

    We are not sure how you would grow sugar crystals, but if you figure something out and show us in a video, we just might share it!

  42. 42
    Dakota Says:

    I added some powdered creamer and a small amount of coffee. It definitely intensifies the buzz!

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