Water is known as the universal solvent. Its capacity of absorbing or dissolving a plethora of substances is greater than that of any other liquid. The physical properties and chemical composition of water make it an ideal base for your hookah. However, you may experiment with other liquids or solvents. Any such trial and error should be conducted with caution. Some liquids or mixtures may not be an appropriate coolant or natural filter.
Water Substitutes for your Hookah Base
Some people claim a few substitutes are better than water. This kind of assertion is hard to prove on a large scale. There is no standard formula of using a particular solvent or mixture in any specific proportion that can outperform water. Yet, you can try a few viable alternatives in your hookah base.
This is the most natural substitute of water you can choose. The trouble is that you cannot use only ice. It is imperative to use ice with some water. As a standalone base, ice does not have much capacity to absorb or dissolve the substances from the hookah smoke to effectively filter it. The smoke will be cooled to an extent, but the flavor or texture would not be refined and enhanced.
Ice facilitates denser and milkier smoke. You can draw large white clouds of smoke, rich in flavor and a cooler texture. You still need some water though with a few ice cubes. Besides, using only ice can cause the glass in your hookah base to crack. Do not subject your hookah base to extreme cold or heat.
2. Coconut Water
You can use coconut water if you happen to be in the tropics. Packaged coconut water may not be appropriate as it contains preservatives and additives. Fresh coconut water is sweet and it is almost as clear as water. It does not have as much dissolving capacity as water, but the absorption is sufficient for a hookah base.
You may also use sweetened water. Add some sugar to water in your hookah base for a bit of a sweeter smoke. The density of the smoke will also be slightly enhanced, so every puff will feel a tad fuller. Avoid using sugar water if your shisha tobacco is a sweet variant.
You can juice your favorite fruits and substitute the water in a hookah base. You may mix some watermelon juice with lemon and add a few cubes of ice. Any type of fruit juice, especially oranges and mangoes, can serve as the base. Fruit juice lends flavor and also makes the smoke thicker.
You should not use heavily concentrated juices or mixtures. The liquid should be diluted enough to have some absorption and dissolving capacity. If the smoke flowing through the down-stem cannot interact much with the juice or mixture at the bottom, then neither will you have any enrichment of flavor nor will the smoke be filtered.
You may experiment with an array of mixtures. People have used cola, herbal tea, coffee, vanilla extract, margarita, lemonade, and milk as water substitutes in a hookah. Each of these alternatives comes with some baggage.
You cannot use milk without diluting it. Milk is too dense to serve as a filter. It does not have any natural cooling ability either. You have to use milk with ice and some water. You cannot use cola unless all the fizz is gotten rid of. Carbonated drinks can easily bubble and flare up inside the hookah base, and your hose will get jammed.
Herbal tea and coffee are viable alternatives. Chilled dark coffee is widely used as a hookah base in Egypt. Lemonade, margarita, and vanilla extract can be used in diluted mixes for more flavor and better texture in your hookah smoke.
Vodka, whisky, and wine can be used as a base, albeit they have to be the cheapest variants. You will be effectively wasting good liquor otherwise. Denser red wines should be diluted. Experimenting with alcoholic mixtures as a hookah base is not advisable. Inhaling smoke channeled through alcohol can have unpredictable effects on your health.
You may use frozen fruits as the base. People have experimented with popsicles and mint leaves. Such solids do not really serve as a filtration medium. The cooling effect is also debatable. Irrespective of so many experimental options, water continues to be the safest choice. It is the most efficient, effective, and affordable solvent to be used as the base for a hookah.