Shisha stones – pros, cons and safety

Our love for shisha has no limits. Many of us would love to smoke shisha on an everyday basis. However, we all know that smoking is not a very healthy habit, even though it is fun. That is why shisha manufacturers are always working on healthier options to enjoy shisha. The latest novelty on which all hopes are pinned on is steam stones (aka shisha stones). What is that and how does it work? We will be answering all your questions below, so keep reading.

Steam stones are small-sized porous mineral rocks that are soaked in honey or other types of flavorings. These stones are marinated in different flavors just like the usual shisha tobaccos we are used to. Most of the steam stones are nicotine-free. However, there are also some nicotine stones too.

How do you use these stones?

Obviously, shisha stones work differently than tobacco. Despite the differences, shisha stones are heated the same way as tobacco. Placed in the bowl and heated with coals or e-coals. You still need to cover stones with foil and puncture holes in it.

After shisha stones are heated, the flavorful liquid drips from them and produces vapor that is to be inhaled.

Are they really the safest way to smoke shisha?

At this point, we do not really know much about the possible risks of smoking shisha stones. There will be more research in the nearest future since this novelty is definitely taking its market share. But right now a google search will give you quite a few contradicting articles that make your life even more complicated. It took us a while to find trustworthy research on this topic. But eventually, we had found a few reliable resources.

In 2015 researchers from the University of Cincinnati studied shisha stones. In particular, the vapor they release when heated. For purity of data, only nicotine-free stones were used. The result did not turn out as expected. The vapor showed traces of toxic elements like arsenic. Niobium, and others. They can cause serious damage to internal organs. In particular, lungs and kidneys, not to mention the nervous system.

However, further research revealed that most of these toxic elements come not from stones themselves. They originate when stones are being heated using charcoals. Using e-coals (electrical devices) for heat managing results in producing fewer toxins. But we need to remember – toxins still get released into the vapor. And their source is still unknown.

Also, it does not mean that shisha stones are completely safe for you. Within the same study, shisha stones were additionally tested by submerging into hot water. This water was then analyzed for toxic components. And the toxins were still there – washed out from the stones but in lower content.

Mystery stones

What bothers our minds the most is the stones themselves. The main reason is that we do not know anything about where they come from. And how they are made. Not having this essential information makes it impossible to evaluate how safe they really are. This aspect was not examined within the research of the University of Cincinnati. It was impossible since no production information was revealed by manufacturers. All we know is that the manufacturers refused to reveal this data due to a trade secret policy. On one side, the policy is understandable and not that unique. On the other side, not many smokers will agree to put something that is unknown into their system. Not knowing the possible risks of smoking shisha stones is a deal-breaker for some shisha lovers.

In the conclusion, it is too early to declare shisha stones (steam stones) the healthiest way to enjoy shisha. There are steps to be made before we can do that. Regulating steam stones industry is vital. And the first step is controlling the manufacturing of shisha stones. Safety requirements should be the first thing to implement. In particular, no bacteria or mold contamination should be acceptable. Also, things like radiation levels must be controlled very strictly. And complete compositional analysis of stones themselves must be always available for consumers and controlling agencies.

Long story short… There is no evidence showing that shisha stones are the safest alternative to shisha tobacco. And with manufacturers refusing to provide needed information to researchers no one knows what they actually are made from. Our verdict – it is always a good idea to try new things. But do not rush to stock up on steam stones until we know what they really are.

July 26, 2021

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