With so many alternative forms of smoking on the market, knowing the difference between them all can be a little difficult. Vaping is one of the newest alternatives to smoking to hit the market, and with the rapidly-evolving terminology, phases like hookah pen and vape pen have become apparently interchangeable, and a lot of confusion has been created in the process.
So what is a hookah? What’s the difference between hookah and vaping? And how do hookah pens come into this? Here’s a run-down of the key differences, and a look at which is the better alternative to cigarettes.
What is a Hookah?
A hookah is basically a water pipe. A hookah consists of a head (which is filled with moist tobacco), a central stem leading to a water bowl at the bottom, and a hose with a mouthpiece on the end. Moist tobacco is put in the head, and this is heated by lighting some charcoal held above it (on a piece of foil with holes poked in it or a metallic mesh). The intention is to heat the tobacco without burning it, but this doesn’t always work out as planned. The smoke is then sucked through the water and out of the hose before the user inhales.
The form of tobacco used in hookah pipes is slightly different from normal tobacco used in cigarettes. It’s moist, and often contains molasses, vegetable glycerin, and flavorings. Combined with the reduced chance of combustion, this generally means that hookah smoke is less harsh to inhale than cigarette smoke.
What is the Difference Between Hookah and Vaping?
If you know what vaping is – using a coil to heat a liquid that usually contains nicotine – it should be clear that there is a big difference between hookah and vaping. In vaping, there is no tobacco present, despite the presence of nicotine or even some flavoring components from tobacco leaves. Although hookah tobacco isn’t the same as ordinary tobacco, the basic fact is that it’s still tobacco. Additionally, even though hookah smoking isn’t really supposed to involve combustion of the tobacco, it occasionally can, and this is a big difference between hookah and vaping.
There are some notable similarities between the two, though. In both vaping and hookah smoking, fruity flavors are the norm. Additionally, in both hookah smoking and vaping, the feel on your throat is much smoother than with cigarettes.
Why Are Vaping and Hookah Often Confused With Each Other?
Although there are some similarities, the differences between vaping and hookah are stark and obvious. Where one involves burning coals and moist tobacco, the other involves electric coils and no tobacco whatsoever. The appearance of the two could hardly be more different: one is a tall pipe with a bowl of water in the bottom and a large hose-like mouthpiece used to inhale the smoke, and the other is either a pen-sized or boxy electronic device with a comparatively small tip for inhaling.
However, there is still some confusion between the two, and this likely stems from the similarities noted above. Since hookah tobacco comes in a variety of flavors, contains VG and gives a smooth throat hit, there are some similarities in terms of the experience of vaping and using a hookah. Both products also contain nicotine, which is another big link between them. Finally, both are often claimed to be safer than smoking, but the evidence for this statement isn’t equal in both cases.
Vaping Culture and Hookah Culture: More Significant Differences
The differences between hookah pipes and e-cigarettes are pretty marked when you just consider the devices and how they work, but the two cultures are also very distinct.
On the one hand, vaping culture is made up of ex-smokers or people who’ve cut down their smoking with the help of a vape pen or other device. Although there are vape meets, tons of forums for users to share tips and advice, conventions and other events which bring the vaping community together, vaping is inherently a personal hobby.
The challenge is kicking your own smoking habit, and users merely help each other find the best setup to meet their own personal needs in an e-cig. On the other hand, hookah is a much more social pastime and has little to do with quitting smoking. Hookah pipes usually have multiple hoses attached to the water bowl, which makes using a hookah an inherently more social experience than vaping. It isn’t about avoiding smoking or reducing the harm of addiction; it’s about using
On the other hand, hookah is a much more social pastime and has little to do with quitting smoking. Hookah pipes usually have multiple hoses attached to the water bowl, which makes using a hookah an inherently more social experience than vaping. It isn’t about avoiding smoking or reducing the harm of addiction; it’s about using hookah for the flavors or the experience.
For example, a 2015 study conducted in Brazil found that only 6.8 % of those who’ve used hookah did so daily, and half of them said they only used it “occasionally.” Another study from 2015 in the US found that only around 38 % of those who’d ever used hookah did so six or more times in the past year. For vaping, data from the UK shows that around 45 % of people who vape but also smoke (known as “dual users”) use their e-cig every day, and 88 % of e-cig users who are ex-smokers vape every day.
Additionally, the main reasons given for using e-cigarettes are to either quit or cut down smoking and to save money. On the contrary, for hookah use, evidence suggests that it’s partially related to general experimentation and partially due to the perception that it’s “cool and trendy.”
These results reflect the different purposes of hookah and vaping. Hookah is used occasionally to either experiment with something like smoking and partially because it’s seen as cool, trendy or otherwise enjoyable. However, long-term e-cigarette users are more likely to vape every day and almost all are doing so to quit smoking cigarettes. While youth e-cig use is closely related to experimentation (a lot like hookah use), most regular vapers are doing so specifically to quit or cut down on cigarettes, whether for financial or health-related reasons.
What’s the Difference Between a Vape Pen and a Hookah Pen?
Despite the existence of some similarities between vaping and hookah use, it’s clear that they’re more different than they are similar. So why are people unsure about the difference between vaping and hookah? It seems like a big reason for the confusion between the two is the existence of the hookah pen.
This is a device that is almost identical to a disposable e-cigarette, and in many ways, the terms vape pen and hookah pen could be used interchangeably. Like a traditional e-cigarette, hookah pens vaporize a liquid using an electronic heating coil to produce a vapor which is inhaled by the user. The similarities are hard to avoid.
There are some important differences, though. Firstly, hookah pens do not ordinarily contain nicotine. While you can get some hookah pens with nicotine, this is a crucial difference and really the main thing that separates a disposable hookah pen with a disposable e-cig. Of course, e-cigarettes also come in the form of vape pens and mods, which look nothing like a hookah pen and still usually contain nicotine.
If you have a hookah pen with nicotine, though, there really is very little difference between a hookah pen and an e-cigarette, and this has a big part to play in the confusion about the differences between them. Add in other terms like e-hookah and e-hookah pen and the problem gets even worse: the rapidly-evolving language further muddies the distinction between hookah pens and vape pens.