A Nargile (NAHR-gee-leh) is a Turkish water pipe which can be seen in many parts of eastern Europe and the Middle East. Other names for the same device include narghile, shisha, hookah, and hubbly-bubbly. Narghile is an alternative spelling used frequently in more recent years. Shisha is an Arabic word, and the other two are English. These pipes are traditionally used to smoke flavored tobacco, however they are quite commonly used for other, less legal, drugs.

There is just as vast an amount of knowledge necessary to smoke a Nargile as their is when you want to smoke a pipe. There is the ever present danger of getting fooled by street venders into buying a Nargile made out of metals of lesser quality, which are likely to break, the possibility of buying bad coal, and mastering the art of the coals.

Lets say you are in vacation in Turkey or Egypt, and you are walking through the open market, where all sorts of interesting things are being sold. You will likely find three or four stores where you could buy a Nargile in every hundred stores available. You walk in, and you find yourself staring at a pipe as tall as yourself, and next to it, a pipe which could fit into your shoe. There are pipes with different colored glass, various designs, and different colored metal. 'Which one,' you ask, 'should I get?'

There are a few main things you want to look at when you buy a Nargile. First, you are going to have to decide how much you are willing to spend, if you are going to use the Nargile or use it as a display piece (or both), and how long you want it to last. With these decisions, we can decide which Nargile to buy.

If you don't mind spending a little extra money, a larger Nargile is recommended, as the chamber will be larger, creating a smoother smoking experience. The larger the Nargile, the longer it will take to clean, and I have always found, and this is simply personal experience, a four foot Nargile to be perfect, and still very easy to clean.

The third piece, has to do with your decision of what it should look like. If you dont want to use your Nargile, feel free to skip the next paragraph and buy whatever you think looks nice. However, if you are caught between a rock and a hard place, remember that you can always mix and match. If you see a glass that you really like, and a center piece which is perfect, ask the person you are dealing with to put them together

Once you decide that you don't want this baby to break, it is mandatory that you purchase a bronze Nargile. There will be three main types of metals used, one will be a polished metal which will possibly be sold as silver, which you should not buy as it will most likely break within a year. The second is a bronze looking metal of questionable origin again, possibly copper. This second metal can only be differentiated when buying face to face in one way, ask the dealer to take it out of the glass and throw it on the floor. I know this sounds slightly crazy, but I am dead serious. A bronze Nargile will not break, and is the reason we want it, and any other will likely break, and the dealer will say he won't do it. If he does, and it doesn't break, it means your probably have a bronze Nargile, however, I have no other method to make sure it is truly bronze. Finally, just make sure you aren't getting ripped off. Prices are very different from place to place, so I won't speculate on the price, but will say that you should find a few that work well for you from different shops. Pick the cheapest price, and buy. If the cheapest price is less than 75% of the top, it is probably not the quality that you expect, so try and get contacts who have bought at the shop who may be able to tell you if it is real, however this may be difficult if you are a tourist.

Now I guess, just go and light up, and have fun. But wait just a minute, how do you use this wonderful device you ask? Well that's exactly what I'm here for.

First, you must go out and purchase coals for your Nargile, which is very important. You cannot use regular coal, or coal for a fireplace! This is deadly, and will do nothing more than kill you. You can usually find this in a good tobacconist, or a large Arabic store. Honestly, the best way to find both flavored tobacco and coals is to find someone else who smokes, and ask them. There are also a number of websites where you can order coals and tobacco internationally.

Once you have tobacco and coals, you will have to put some water in the glass part of the Nargile. I recommend adding some lemon water to your water, and putting extremely cold water in the base, however that is my preference, and other people have their own. Some place a few ice cubes in their glass, and various other cooling devices. A few notes on what not to put in, I recommend you DO NOT use any form of alcohol, as it is very likely you will pass out while doing this. Because of the ease that alcohol evaporates, you may find yourself intoxicated very fast. I have also heard some horror stories about people having problems with their lungs doing this.

Now that your glass is filled, find a piece of tin foil, and poke a few holes in it. I usually stab it with a fork three times, in a small, one inch radius circle. Place four pinches of tobacco on top of your Nargile so that it is still lose, and not too packed down. Now cover the top of your Nargile with this tin foil, and place the coals on top.

Finally, light the coals, and stand back, as sometimes the coals can spit of bits of themselves as they light (if you bought the self-lighting kind.) Inhale, and repeat.


Nar"gile (?), Nar"gi*leh (?), n. [Per. narghil, prop., a cocoanut; prob. so called because first made of a cocoanut.]

An apparatus for smoking tobacco. It has a long flexible tube, and the smoke is drawn through water.


© Webster 1913.

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