chemistry, ceramics, hookah question!

My friend constructed a hookah during ceramics class. Basically, he made a big pot. And then he made a little cylider thing to put on top of the big pot. He carefully constructed holes in it for the passage of smoke. He then went to home depot and got some plastic piping. He made a hose that goes from the cylinder which holds your tobacco, into the big pot which is filled with water. He attached three smaller hoses into the pot which are smoked out of.
I do not know what kind of clay we used, but I am sure it is whatever is standard in high school. He high fired it. When we smoke out of it, it leaves a really bad taste in the back of your throat. And produces some bad smoke. We can’t figure out what is going on. THe plastic isn’t burning, well at least the pipes arent singed in any way. And I don’t think the glaze would burn. Why are we getting this harsh bad smoke?!

Heh, because everyone knows the prominant use for a hookah is tobacco. :wink: Anyhow, either way, what is your bowl head made out of? The same ceramic? If it’s brass, throw it out immediately, it could kill you. If it’s plasic, make or get a proper bowl head. Also, I assume you know why a hookah works, that you have to keep the bowl head above the water level, and the other end of the tube you have attatched you your bowl head in the water. The “smoking tubes” should be comletely above water level. But you probobly know this. You could try adding crushed ice. Make sure the tubes are of a proper diameter, as not to cause a backup of resin. If it does turn out to be the ceramics, I’d be suprised. Inspect all the aspects of your hookah. Primarily the head and smoke paths.

Sorry if you know all this stuff, you very well may, but I can’t think of much else that could go wrong.

Bowl Head? You mean the stuff you put your tobacco (I swear!) in? If so, it is made out of the same ceramic. My friend did it all, he’s the expert at all of this. But anyway, yeah the tube that goes into the big pot of water (with ice) is above the water line, but goes down under it (like a bong). The “smoking tubes” are above the waterline, but I am not sure about the length. There might be a little resin on the tubes. But we got the horrible smoke the very first time we used it. I’ll get that kid on here to explain further anything he can about the setup.

You say there is a hose leading from the burner to the water. If this is a plastic hose then that would be burning, of course.

You should have a metal pipe attached to the burner.

Kalect, what all this about brass killing you??

I admit, it sounds like your bowl head is the problem. If it is made of the ceramic, the bowlhead is probobly what is melting or reacting to the flame/cherry. Replace the bowl head with a steel or aluminum one. If the hits still hit harsh, wash the hookah, and replace the smoke path tubes, including the one leading from your bowl head.

On a side note, what is the purpose of packing a bowl of tobacco and sitting around with three people smoking the same shit around a hookah… not exactly the most efficent way to smoke tobacco. :smiley: :dubious:

It may not me brass, I’m sorry, I’ll look it up.

Some metal contains a certain chemical or something that when you smoke with it, it burns and enters your smoke. It can kill you.

Kalect, there’s a tobacconist & coffee-slinger on Davie St. in Vancouver that provides a hookah for folks to use – with their special blend of turkish tobacco. That part of town gets a lot of “tobacco tourism.” Cuban cigars are a big deal, for some reason.

Myself, I wonder how hygienic a public hookah is.

Anyway, it’s pretty common for some people to smoke nicotiana with a water-pipe. How many of those folks are North American high-school students is another thing altogether.

Larry: Ah, I see. Still sounds a bit fishy to me, but I’m just that way :slight_smile:

Oh, and the metal is Copper I believe, I’ll find more on it.

Ok, here is what I have on copper. While it doesn’t say why, it lists alot of toxic materials, copper included.:

Copper salts/oxides are toxic. You do not want to inhale an aerosol of copper salts, which may be present after a long period of use. Brass (copper/zinc) is more resistant to corrosion. A small amount of copper salts might make you sick (‘metal fume fever’) but tobacco smoke certainly does kill.

So use aluminuim or brass.

First issue: plastic tubing in flame situations is bad. Very bad. I don’t know anything about ceramic glazes, but they strike me as another possible source of nasty fumes.

Second issue: most hookahs don’t actually put flame to tobacco. They have a piece of aluminum foil or summat that goes over a damp plug of tobacco. A burning coal is placed on top of these, and there is smoke without flame.

Third issue: I’m betting that the holes to draw through are pretty big. If you’re drawing too much air, it’s gonna be harsher.

Proposed solution: There are shops dedicated to these kinds of unusual waterpipes, and these shops operate legally in a lot of American and Canadian cities. Walk into one of these shops with your creation, and they’ll be able to tell you what parts you need, and like as not have those parts in stock. They might even be able to tell you about possible negative effects from the plastic and any things about the glaze put on it.

I do have a modicum of knowledge about ceramics…I don’t think that’s the problem. In fact, clay pipes have been a significant presence in civiliations for quite some time now. Typically, though the inside of the bowl was not glazed. Some pipes, such as the white clay pipes popular during the late 1700’s, were not glazed at all.

OTOH, I’ve seen chinese opium pipes that were glazed on the inside. The temperatures required to fire these glazes far exceeds anything you’re going to get off a bong cherry. Whether it’s tobacco or other stuff.

Please tell me the ceramic bowl head was not glazed.

Glazing the bowl head is not really wise.

…thats because glazes contain oxides of antimony, barium, cadmiun chromium and lead. Some of this can be volatilised by the heat of the burning tobacco. These are even worse than tobacco.

kgriffey79, you don’t happen to go to school in Toronto, do you?

Yep. Not to mention that fresh glaze may not even have fully been fixed properly. No offense to them, but they are high school students, not potters, so if the glaze isn’t done properly…