Why Does Hookah Tobacco Contain Glycerin?

Jun 21 , 2022

Why Does Hookah Tobacco Contain Glycerin?

Hookah tobacco or shisha flavors comprise several ingredients. The flavors are of course based on extracts. Also, companies may use additives to enhance the color and texture of a particular hookah tobacco flavor. Some products may contain preservatives, too.

Apart from all the flavor related ingredients, most shisha or hookah tobacco contain glycerin. In fact, glycerin is the most common ingredient, along with molasses. That brings up the question, why does hookah tobacco contain glycerin? Let’s explore the reasons. 

Glycerin Is a Natural Humectant

The fundamental reason for shisha flavors or hookah tobacco containing glycerin is also the most important benefit. This benefit is for the manufacturers and consumers alike. 

Glycerin is a natural humectant. Hence, the substance or compound preserves moisture. Not only does glycerin retain the moisture that is added to hookah tobacco, it also prevents any organic moistness that may be already present in the dried and cured leaves. 

You are probably familiar with the fact that tobacco leaves are dried and cured before they are processed further to manufacture the final products, i.e., shisha flavors. Dried tobacco leaves do not have a lot of moisture. So, manufacturers need an ingredient to moisten the cured leaves.

Both glycerin and molasses help in moistening the dried and cured tobacco leaves. However, molasses don’t serve as the humectant. Thus, the overall recipe needs an ingredient that will prevent the final product from drying. This ingredient is glycerin or glycerol.

If you don’t use glycerin in hookah tobacco, you will have the kind of dried product that is used in cigarettes and cigars. Those dried tobacco leaves burn easily. You don’t want a hookah flavor to burn swiftly. Also, flavors or extracts won’t work without a humectant, or moisture retention.

Glycerin Is Colorless and Odorless

The fact that glycerin is a natural humectant would have meant little to nothing if the vegetable extract had a distinct color, odor, and flavor of its own. That would have demanded every brand to tweak their approaches and recipes to make the popular shisha flavors or hookah tobacco.

Fortunately, glycerin doesn’t have any color or odor. Also, glycerol or glycerin doesn’t have any noticeable flavor when used as an agent. Therefore, you can prepare a recipe without worrying about the humectant’s effects on the flavor, odor, and color of the product you wish to produce.

Glycerin Is Syrupy and Hence Juicy

Glycerin is a syrupy liquid. This texture is what lends to the moist and juicy feel when you touch hookah tobacco. Of course, molasses also contributes to the juiciness and moistness. However, glycerin serves as the syrupy humectant, so the juiciness and moistness are retained.

Some hookah tobacco or shisha flavors are a tad sticky. This stickiness makes these products stronger against heat. Thus, if you want a hookah tobacco flavor to be more resilient to charcoal heat, you need an ingredient like glycerin. 

Glycerin Retains the Flavor and Texture

Exposure to air and temperature changes alter several attributes of most natural goods. Think about foods, flavors, herbal extracts, etc. Most such materials will not last forever if they are not preserved well. 

Foods turn dry. Flavors lose their potency as they interact with air, humidity, and heat. Likewise, extracts lose their strengths. Similarly, hookah tobacco would lose the flavor and texture if there isn’t anything retaining these characteristics. Glycerin is a natural solution serving this purpose.

While glycerin is not a preservative per se, its humectant property and syrupy texture create a kind of a cloak for the hookah tobacco, including the flavor extracts in the product. As a result, you can properly store shisha or hookah tobacco for months without worrying about flavor loss.

Glycerin Is a Fulsome Substance 

Last but not least, glycerin is a fulsome substance. Consider the moisture retention or effects of a natural humectant. Add to it the fact that the ingredient is syrupy, clear, and odorless. What you get is a fulsome structural profile that is resilient against heat and loss of moisture.

These factors combine to produce the kind of smoke a hookah generates. If hookah tobacco is burning, like a cigarette or cigar, you will get light and airy smoke. If shisha flavors are more resilient to heat than necessary, the tobacco will not produce much smoke or vapor.

Therefore, you need a fine balance between the resilience against heat and the tobacco leaves producing the bulky smoke that everyone loves. Add to this combination the flavors, molasses, and honey, in some cases. What you derive is the delightfully cloudy and delicious smoke.