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Romancing the Smoke: How to store hookah tobacco

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!
At this point in my hookah education, I've started to collect quite a few different types, flavors, and brands of shisha. Suddenly I had a dozen open containers of tobacco, which  made my kitchen smell lovely, but I was not exactly sure what to do with the shisha once it was opened...The first thing I learned is that if you even mention a freezer, you might be accosted. This isn't just true in the hookah community, it's prevalent with coffee connoisseurs, cigar aficionados, basically anything that is appreciated for it's rich flavor should not touch the inside of a freezer.
Why Not Freeze It? Sublimation and homeostasis. Water evaporates at all temperatures, even from the surface of solid ice. If the air is cold and dry enough, water molecules go directly from solid phase (ice) to gas phase (vapor) without ever going through a liquid phase (this is sublimation). Why does this happen? Because when air gets cold, it condenses and the humidity drops. The freezer environment wants to balance out the levels of humidity, so the dry air will suck moisture out of anything in the freezer to try and create that balance (this is homeostasis). SO, arguably, if something is perfectly sealed, the process of sucking out the moisture will be diminished. However, the extreme temperature change will still disturb the volatile oils and compounds that are used to flavor the shisha. The only potential exception may exist in the Tangiers world. Some suggest putting it in the freezer for about an hour to help deal with humidity shock. Even then, it's only an hour, and this is just one method.
So, How Should I Store It? It's mind-numbingly easy. Seal it. Keep it in a dark, cool place. Boom - that shisha will stay good for years. To help keep everything tidy and orderly what I do is gently wrap the shisha in wax paper or plastic wrap, then put that in the shisha storage container of your choice. Put the container in a zip lock bag. Now take a magic marker, and write the brand, flavor, and date that you opened it on the bag. It take less than 5 minutes to do this, and when I say that shisha will be good for years, I'm being literal - years. Need containers? We've got glass shisha storage containers, standard plastic, as well as hard plastic storage jars.
Super easy to store, and it lasts for quite a long time. Until next time, happy smoking! -Katie

Comments (10) -

  • I never encounter the issue of having to store it, I smoke it all first!
  • You might want to start investing in 100g or even 250g bags/tins of your favorite flavors... it saves a lot of money and because they're your favs, it's always nice to have around!

    Hopefully you're not smoking 250g in one sitting... Tong
  • Well,I don't know.  All I know is that I've been smoking shisha daily for about 6 years, and I've been storing shisha in the freezer all along.  And I've found that freezing the shisha has never done it a bit or harm.  I've even experimented with it.  A few years ago I put a can of shisha in the freezer and left it in there for a full year and a half.  When the year was up, I ordered another can of the same brand and flavor so that I now had two cans of the same stuff, one that had been in the freezer for a year and a half and one that was fresh and had just been received in the mail.  There was absolutely no difference between the two.  The taste, the quality of the smoke, everything was exactly the same.  They both seemed equally fresh and I would not have been able to tell the difference.  So I think that it is a myth that you shouldn't keep your shisha in the freezer.
  • Thanks for sharing, Marv! When we get down to it, if the shisha is properly sealed, then the damage may be minimal. However, this is just a cautionary tale as to what CAN happen. It's the same thing with freezing meat, it might be just fine, but it also might lose it's flavor, get freezer burn, and not be of the same quality as it's fresh, non-frozen counterpart. At the end of the day, it's your shisha, and of course everyone has their own method.
  • I have tasted slight difference and an overall diminshed smoking experience with shisha that's been left in the fridge but nothing to ever warrant cancelling a hookah session.
    My question though, from a commercial point of view when dealing with large amounts in a hookah cafe, is: how and where do you store your ready made hookah bowls? As preparing a head on demand wastes unnecessary time, so if a few ready made bowls (tin foil and all) are leftover at the day's end is the best idea to throw them in some tupperware and a ziplock bag, store them in a cupboard and use them the next day or whenever it may be? Is this even necessary though or would leaving them in a fridge overnight or in a cupboard without airtight containers affect the shisha that much?
    Thank you!
    • Hey Demonis! I would definitely recommend putting those pre-made bowls in a tupperware container over night. It might be okay if left out, but the tupperware will ensure that no moisture escapes, giving your customers the best possible smoking experience!
  • I'm a Tangiers smoker so I order 250g at a time, I usually have 2-3 kilograms on hand and store them in tupperware. I have had a pack of cocoa I've been slowly mixing from for 2 years and still close to as juicy as day 1.
  • I do not know why but after 2 or 3 months after opening my shisha do not get the same taste, even I store them in zip lock and in a cool place. Why does this happen?

    • Hi Cezar, it's just the tobacco mixing with oxygen. Even if it's stored properly, it will change slightly due to chemical reactions over time. It's best to smoke your shisha within a few weeks of opening the package.
  • As soon as i take the shisha out of its original package i put them in small tupperwares, all of them with a small piece of paper attached with the flaver and the brand. I have a small suitcase (probably one that is used for girls make up) to keep it in the dark and mobile. As in Brasil is (too) hot most of the year i use to keep it inside my closet.