How To Make Your Own Shisha Tobacco: Step By Step
5 min

How To Make Your Own Shisha Tobacco: Step By Step

5 min

Making your own shisha tobacco has manifold advantages. And fortunately, it's not that complicated. You can choose a more or less complex option and get as creative as you please. Following our guide, you'll certainly be rewarded with the most delicious hits—the fruits of your very own labour.

Smoking shisha can be a relaxing activity to enjoy with friends or alone. And making your own shisha tobacco empowers you to use your preferred ingredients and add the flavours you like the most. Trust us—your own personalised shisha tobacco can make the whole experience. Making it from scratch can be very simple, or rather complicated.

Below, we’ll focus on a simple recipe to start with, which you can use as a base for more complex variations.

What is shisha tobacco?

What is shisha tobacco?

Shisha tobacco is the material you use to pack your bowl. It’s got a couple of other names, all of which refer to the same thing:

  • Shisha (shisha mix; shisha blend)
  • Tobacco
  • Hookah tobacco
  • Shisha flavour

For most shisha mixes, tobacco is the base. Blonde leaf tobacco and black leaf tobacco are most commonly used. The leaves are treated with molasses/honey and vegetable glycerine or glycerine, which gets the tobacco wet. Other tobacco products, such as cigarettes or cigars, use dry tobacco instead. The level of humidity is important to each way of producing smoke. While with cigarettes and cigars the tobacco is burned, with shisha it’s heated through convection, meaning it isn’t directly lit.

Next, the tobacco is flavoured, usually with a mix of extracts. This will create those powerful aromas and flavours shisha is known for. Extracts can be both natural or chemical, depending on production and preference.

There are hundreds of versions of shisha tobacco, as well as lots of tobacco-free options. Alternative bases for the latter can, for example, be tea leaves, real fruit, or sugarcane fibres.

Is there a difference between hookah tobacco and shisha tobacco?

No. The terms “hookah” and “shisha” both refer to the device we use to smoke what can be called both “hookah tobacco” or “shisha tobacco”. Shisha is also the name for the material that’s smoked by means of a hookah/shisha (which understandably causes some confusion).

What are the benefits of making your own shisha tobacco?

What are the benefits of making your own shisha tobacco?

Making your own shisha tobacco comes with several advantages:

  • The choice of ingredients is entirely yours!

  • You’re free to mix whatever flavours you please.

  • You can control every bit of the quality—nature lovers go ahead and pick all-natural materials!

  • You can connect with what will end up in your body.

  • You can introduce your friends to something novel.

  • You can make someone a special gift.

Which tobacco is best for shisha?

Clearly, making your own shisha tobacco is a good idea. But which tobacco is ideal as a base?

Well, we didn't lie: the choice is all yours. Pick any type of loose-leaf tobacco. As you’ll treat the tobacco later, its humidity level doesn’t matter at this point. If you want it smoky and are happy with a slightly harsher option, get some pipe tobacco for some extra spice. To get it ready to use in the recipe below, remove it from the package and leave it to air-dry (perhaps overnight).

Shisha tobacco without nicotine

If you’d like to avoid tobacco, simply use some dried herbs or extracts.

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How To Clean Your Shisha

How to make your own shisha tobacco

How to make your own shisha tobacco

Now, let's get to the fun part. May our recipe and your creativity guide you.


  • Loose-leaf tobacco
  • Molasses or honey (1g per 3g of tobacco—but deviate by all means)
  • Vegetable glycerine or glycerine made for shisha (ca. 30g per 300g tobacco)
  • Fruit of choice (we’ll use apple)
  • Extra flavouring (optional)


  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • A few mixing bowls
  • Sieve (optional)
  • Tupperware
  • Food processor
  • Saucepan
  • Cooking spoon
  • Fork (optional)
  • Tin foil
  • Baking tray
  • Oven


Before we get started, you probably want to know whether you should choose honey or molasses. The latter’s flavour is deeper and richer, meaning it can be more dominant. Really, it comes down to your personal preference. Whichever you choose, we recommend picking pure products.

Once you have all of the necessary materials handy, it’s time to get cooking.

Part 1: Preparing the tobacco or non-nicotine smoking mix

Part 1: Preparing the tobacco or non-nicotine smoking mix

  1. As mentioned above, you want your tobacco to have dried thoroughly before you begin to prepare it.

  2. Now, break up the tobacco leaves into a mixing bowl and remove any spines you can find on larger pieces/leaves. Spread the broken-up tobacco on a chopping board and use a knife to cut it consistently. This last step is especially important if you’ve got whole-leaf tobacco. Make sure the pieces are chopped equally. It’s up to you to choose a size; it’ll determine how your shisha tobacco gets packed in the end.

  3. Next, get it soaked. To do this, put your tobacco back into a mixing bowl and fill it up with enough water to fully submerge the material. Leave it to soak for at least 30 minutes.

    Note that this step is crucial for making the tobacco pliable, removes some nicotine, and generally softens the tobacco. The tobacco flavour will become less intensive if you soak it for longer, which is desirable as it’ll allow the other flavours to take up more space.

    Instead of soaking your tobacco, you may also boil it. Another way is rinsing it extensively with water (for which a sieve will come in handy).

  4. Now, mix the tobacco (without the water) with honey/molasses in a mixing bowl. Use the 1:3 ratio mentioned above or play around a bit if you fancy.

Get your hands wet and use them to mix it all up.

Part 2: Adding flavour

Part 2: Adding flavour

  1. There are manifold ways to add flavour to your shisha tobacco. We’ll use apples, but feel free to pick another type of fruit or flavouring.

  2. Prepare your apples by cutting them into fourths and removing the core and stem. You don’t want any seeds or hard bits in your mix.

  3. Use a food processor to blend the apples. The mix should have an even consistency, ideally somewhere between apple chunks and apple sauce.

  4. Put the mush in a saucepan and heat it briefly. This is to remove some water (your shisha will burn better with no excess moisture). Make sure to monitor the process and stir regularly to avoid burning your apples.

  5. Let it cool off and add glycerine to the mix. Vegetarian glycerine will work just as well. Glycerine will do a few jobs at once:

    - Absorb moisture from other ingredients

    - Make the mix bind nicely with the tobacco

    - Create a sort of evenness in your shisha, preventing a quick and uneven burn

    - Add a sweet flavour, resembling sugar

    - Help to preserve your shisha tobacco

    Yet, you don’t necessarily need to use it. If you don’t have any or prefer not to use glycerine, simply don’t.

  6. Now it gets really exciting—mix it all together. Put everything in a large mixing bowl and use your hands or a fork to mix it through evenly. Add a little honey/molasses/glycerine if the mix seems too dry.

  7. Next, use your hands to mould your shisha tobacco into one big ball, and wrap it fully in one large piece of tin foil. Put the ball in an oven-safe tray and bake it at the lowest available temperature for about an hour (or 45 minutes at 80°C). Let it cool down in the foil.

  8. Lastly, add any extra flavourings you fancy, for example vanilla extract or even more glycerine. You can also add more honey or molasses to impart some moisture if it seems too dry.

Related article

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How to store shisha tobacco

How to store shisha tobacco

Before using it for the first time, let your shisha tobacco rest in the fridge overnight. Once it’s cooled off and you’ve finalised your flavouring, put it into an airtight container and place it in the fridge. This will enhance the quality of your smoke significantly. If it seems too dry the next day, just add a little honey or molasses again.

If you don’t use all of it in one go, keep storing your shisha tobacco in the fridge. You’ll probably find the taste changes slightly from day to day, quite possibly improving.

Whether and when your shisha will go out of date largely depends on the ingredients you used. These are some signs that your shisha tobacco has gone bad:

  • Shisha has become dry. If it lacks a little moisture, add some as recommended above. If it’s no longer wet, it’s no longer fresh either.
  • Shisha smells odd
  • Strange colours
  • Fuzzy texture

If your shisha exhibits any of these symptoms, better don’t smoke it. At the very least, it probably won’t be enjoyable anymore. And at worst, it may put your health at risk.

Storing it in an airtight container and keeping it refrigerated will certainly prolong your product’s shelf life.

Create your own shisha sensation

Create your own shisha sensation

Making your own shisha tobacco can be incredibly rewarding. Hopefully, our tips and instructions guide you smoothly through the process. Get as creative as you’d like—more simple or complex variations are equally viable. And finally, enjoy smoking!

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