Milk in Hookah Base Will Make Your Smoke Thicker – True or False?

milk in your hookah, cowFor as long as I have been smoking hookah, I have heard people tell me that putting milk in hookah base will help to make your smoke thicker, richer and more smooth creating a more pleasant hookah experience.  This idea is definitely easier said than done.

There are a slew of issues that arise when trying to perfect this method.  If there is too much milk it will naturally bubble up into the chamber and the hose in a fashion identical to the way that you used to blow bubbles in your chocolate milk.  Your mom surely would not approve.

If you choose to ignore this and continue, business as usual, you will end up with milk embedded in your hose.  Milk embedded in your hose heated by fresh shisha smoke will turn to cheese.  As good as cheese is, hookah hose cheese is AWFUL.  Not only that but if you forget to clean your base after use, you will have an equally nasty surprise when you go to clean for your next use.

Murky Experimentation

I experimented with this issue to try and find just how to get the desired result:

We filled our hookah 1/4 of the way full with whole milk and the rest with water to make sure to dilute the mixture fully.  Little did I know that dilution is a relative term.  Instead of lighting up and commencing sesh, we first tried pulling a few times to see how the water/milk mixture reacted.  As expected the milk bubbled immediately into the chamber and up into our hose.

We then tried diluting it even further with maybe 1/8 milk and the rest water.  Still.  Same result.

This is where I made a mistake in preperation for this article.  Instead of starting fresh on the last trial I poured out about half the mixture and then filled the rest with water.  So If my math is correct that would ideally be 1/16 milk…  We had finally gotten to a point where the bubbles were tame and wouldn’t rise up and into the hose.  Don’t get me wrong it was still very bubbly but it was diluted enough that they wouldn’t rise if you didn’t pull too hard.

The Sesh

So now we have our semi-bubbly-murky-milky-water-mixture and some mint flavored shisha.  There was a slight difference in the way that the hookah pulled.  It wasn’t “WOW what a smoke” but it did cause a bit of the harshness of the smoke to dissipate.  It felt a little cooler which I believe was probably an false perception to the smoke being a little less harsh.

We smoked for about an hour and felt satisfied with our findings.  It was a lot of work trying to find just the right combination and I think it’s something that still needs to be perfected.  It seems to me like it’s a little more of a psychological thing than anything else but to add a few tablespoons of milk and experiment wont hurt the experience by any means.

So What did We Learn?

Through talking to my worldly hookah pro, we’ll call her “peenk,” we came up with a few things that are important to consider about the whole hookah milk debate.  I hope you’ll use these when making your own decisions because I know I haven’t really come to a firm one on my own.

  1. The ration of water to milk was so ridiculous in our trials and in other trials I have read about that I doubt the milk is having the optimal effect on the smoke that it could be.  I am not saying that it has no effect but it is not having the effect it potentially could be.  If you could find a way to fill your glass with milk entirely without having it bubble up I imagine this would be a very different experience.
  2. Milk has much more to it than water.  Milk is made up of water, fats, sugars and inorganic salts.  Milk has a much higer absorbative quality than water does and when mixed with other substances, including smoke, will absorb the odors and qualities of those substances.  This would lead me to believe that in fact that hookah smoke would end up thinner after passing through milk.
  3. Cow milk and goats milk are entirely different things.  While Peenk was in Armenia she had an incredible experience with a milk hookah that was made from goats milk, which is much more prevalent in the middle east.  It makes me wonder if this is where the whole debate arose from given that hookah originated from that part of the world.  It wouldnt surprise me if centuries have gone by and Americans just screwed up the recipe because of our own assumptions.

I am interested to hear if anyone else has tried it with goats milk.  I’ve also heard promising things about coconut milk.  Please, enlighten us.

9 thoughts on “Milk in Hookah Base Will Make Your Smoke Thicker – True or False?

  1. A few drops of olive oil (or canola, in a pinch) will prevent bubbles from forming. At first it will act separated and float on top, presumably causing interference to the surface tension of the bubbles. Though after a full hookah-session, it will emulsify with the milk and water. Definitely improves the milk sessions.

  2. i just came back from smoking hookah @ a friend’s house and someone had the great idea of using milk (she heard it would have an hallucinogenic effect) so we said “why not?” so we went to the 7/11 to buy some milk (cow’s milk).
    We didn’t even have to dillute it or anything. i just read here and in other websites that it produces bubbles, but we didn’t have any of that. maybe we were just lucky, but here’s the deal: add milk just so that the tip of the straw (i don’t know the correct term) gets submerged in it.
    i did feel the smoke being a little thicker, but it wasn’t a BIG difference. as for the hallucinogenic effect, that was plain bullshit, but worth a try, lol

  3. I’m smoking hookah with 1/10 ish milk to water ratio in the base.
    The main reason base liquids get into the hose is if the base is at a higher level than your hose tip. that is, if you have put the hookah on a table of some sort.
    Milk definitely adds to that effect sinces its thicker, but if you keep it on the floor or something and you sit on a chair and smoke the hookah, you should be fine.
    use whole milk.
    and try goat milk if given the chance.
    smoke is not thicker, just tastes different. for the lack of a better word, its milky?

    putting milk in the base for shisha from Nakhla and Al-Waha make it less harsh.

  4. I’ve put milk in my pipe for years and I believe the proper amount of milk to use is a about 3 cap fulls of milk (give or take a few depending on the size of your hookah). It definitely adds a creamy taste and thickens the smoke slightly. It definitely worth experimenting with and see if you like for yourself… Have fun!

  5. The chemistry here is quite simple, mate.
    The fat in milk aids in creating bubbles – that’s why you can’t make a frothy cappuccino with skim milk. it’s a matter of surface tension and interruption of weak electrostatic interactions between the water molecules.
    Either way, if you want a bubble-less experience, do it with skim or (very little) semi-skim milk. Both have a much lower concentration of fat (you knew that) so there is less interruption of hydrogen bonding between the water molecules, prompting greater surface tension pull and thus not allowing as many bubbles to form.
    I’m a biochemist, but don’t take it from me – see for yourself:

    Good Hookah-ing

  6. Hookah Poh-lees is quiet right…the fat is what causes the bubbles….but instead of diluting your milk or using skim milk, there is another way….
    Have you ever tried making froth from milk that’s already had froth made from it? Say making a cappuccino from used milk….well it doesn’t work as well….
    So if you put bubbles in your milk before you put it in you hookah then there will be no bubbles….it works for me every time…
    The way I do it….before pouring the milk, in the container itself I shake it….if the container is half empty its better….shake it, shake it and shake it for about 30 seconds….the milk will be all bubbled out….and your hookah will be AWESOME….
    Undiluted full cream milk is the best…..naturally the thicker the liquid the smoother your smoke will be….
    Try it and let me know……peace out

  7. Hi ive actually tried with coconut milk but only a dash of it in water. And the outcome is amazing much smoother taste and when paired with the right tobacco like a mixture of coco jumbo and mint it was mind blowing

  8. last night I made a coconut milk hookah for the first time in 3 years. Back when I made it the first time I had a small mya pumpkin hookah and almost no hookah knowledge. I pit the coconut milk in it, went to pull and got a mouth full of it. This time, with a much bigger hookah, I poured the whole can in the base and watered it down. Its a new hookah do I haven’t mastered the water measurements let alone the milk….but surprisingly I didn’t get anything when I pulled and there was a nice balance of the flavors (coconut milk, cocojumbo, and gum with mint and a small amount of pineapple. Delicious!) I was very pleased. Smoke was very thick. The only thing I do was let the coconut milk sit in the fridge before my sesh!

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