Smoking shisha with a hookah is a popular and social way to smoke tobacco. Shisha is tobacco that is marinated in molasses, honey, sugars, glycerin and other ingredients to burn slowly and produce a large volume of flavored, light smoke. Generally, you smoke shisha by placing a metal screen or piece of foil over it and placing a charcoal on top of it; however, in a pinch you can smoke shisha without coals. Shisha tobacco contains addictive nicotine and causes the same health problems as smoking tobacco in other forms. You must be 18 years old to purchase shisha in the United States.
Load your clay bowl with loosely packed shisha. Place it in the top stem of your hookah.
Cover the clay bowl with a metal screen or piece of aluminum foil. Poke several holes in the foil if you choose that route. Aluminum foil may burn when in contact with a direct flame, producing a nasty taste and giving off chemicals, so go for a metal screen whenever possible.
Hold the lighter slightly over the bowl and inhale strongly through the hookah hose. Coals only slightly burn the shisha to produce smoke, so do not hold the lighter to the shisha for too long. While you will not get the same billowing clouds of smoke that you get from using coals, you can get a little at a time.
Repeat the process each time you want to smoke.
Purchase a tobacco or coal heater. These devices are small, plug-in drive machines that produce a steady amount of heat but not an open flame, and can be purchased at tobacco shops and online.
Affix the tobacco heater to the top of the clay bowl, with the heating element on top of the shisha. Start with a lower heat setting so that the shisha does not burn. Some heaters come with clips, but you may need to tape or clamp others to the hookah itself.
Inhale from the hookah hose until you get a good amount of smoke.
Adjust the temperature settings until you find one that produces a satisfying amount of smoke. Even with a good tobacco heater you will not get the same billowing clouds of smoke that you get from coals.