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Romancing the Smoke: the art of looking cool with steam stones

If you’re just tuning in to Romancing The Smoke, this is a blog following my journey to becoming a hookah know-it-all. If you’re also a beginner, or a pro who wants to offer some advice, then I hope you’ll follow along!
(I'm positive that this is how cool people see me)
In my mind, there's nothing worse than being expected to look hip and trendy at a hip and trendy event. I get anxious that everyone will know how uncool I actually am. My anxiety was ramped up a few weeks ago when I was asked to set up a few hookahs at an art show for all of the super cool art patrons. The only catch was that tobacco products were not allowed inside, so we had to use steam stones.
"Steam stones?!," I thought. "Is there anything lamer?" I mean it's not even shisha, who's going to want to smoke flavored water vapor? My street cred in the art world was tarnished before I even got there! Truthfully, I had never even used steam stones before, so I had no idea what exactly I was throwing a tantrum about. When showtime came around, I begrudgingly began to set up the hookahs. I brought three different flavors of Shiazo Steam Stones, and the more I looked at the little canisters, the more intrigued I became - how DO these things work?
They're not made of tobacco, I knew that much. In place of the tobacco leaves there are these wet-looking, pebble sized, raw minerals. These minerals are extremely porous and act like sponges when they are pressure injected with the same ingredients that are used in shisha (glycerine, molasses, flavoring). When heated with coals, the fluids inside reach their boiling point and vaporize into steam. Well I guess that doesn't sound terrible.
(Sneaky photographer caught me mid-exhale)
I loaded up one bowl with Watermelon steam stones and one with Sex On The Beach. I put on the coals, I took my first inhale and...it was...totally fine. Awesome, actually. The flavors were strong, and the smoke clouds were big enough that I started to attract a crowd, despite the easy distraction of weird oil paintings of deranged cowboys.
The regular tobacco smokers were leery, but after some coaxing they were pleasantly surprised with the steam stones. The best part was every time someone said, "I don't smoke," I told them that it's flavored water vapor - no nicotine or tobacco at all. They always got really excited, and loved it when they tried it. The Shiazo Steam Stones ended up being the coolest kids at the party, and I was proud to be their date.
My personal review and some tips that I picked up: Shiazo Steam Stones have a great flavor and clouds. They do seem to be very heat sensitive; they can under/over heat quickly. The feeling of the smoke isn't as filling and thick in your throat  as regular shisha - there is a bit of a humidifier feel to it. But I was able to smoke and socialize all night long without worrying about getting a hookah headache or the nicotine shakes. Using a Phunnel or Vortex bowl will help hold in all of the juices. The sessions are only amazing for the first 30 minutes, then you might want to reload. Even though those are short sessions, you can pour extra shisha juice from other tobacco on the cashed stones and reuse them!
What's your experience with steam stones been like? Let us know! Until next time, happy smoking! -Katie

Comments (3) -

  • My first experience with Steam stones was the Shiazo blueberry, with a vortex. My, wasn't I blown by these wonder stones. Thick smoke and flavourful, but still I prefer tobacco shisha than this since, how I describe it as "light". More to its marvel, we can reuse them just like that - amazing. Imagine 50g can last longer than 50g of shisha tobacco lol.
  • recently, i've started using 'lemon rocks' a product similar to steam stones in israel. I've discovered that placing them on top of traditional shisha prevents the tobacco from the direct heat of the coal, thus you get a more dispersed/even, and longer smoke. i'm usually dropping on 2 coals before it starts to taste a bit burnt or 'licorice-y' as my friends call it. great article, love the vortex bowl.
  • I bought a can of steam stones months ago and I still use them (kinda back up for when I'm out of shisha). Originally I just had cherry stones but if you put a few in a cup (wet ones or dry ones) you can pour in whatever juice you want and they will absorb it. After smoking them I always put them in a cup and try new stuff. So far I've tried grape, orange, lemon, grapefruit, apple, and cranberry.