Met-Chohm-Phuu (Appleseed) Biodiesel in Thailand

Creating Appleseed Biodiesel reactors in Thailand in rural areas for farmers with the PDA.... stories from a farang in Krabi... biodiesel back home in NC... and whatever else needs to be told online in my blog....

July 25, 2006

My Hubble Bubble Alter-Ego

Allison at her finest

First, the click here for a funny article on the hookah. I thought this is how a hookah works: you put this mixture of fruit and tobacco in a ceramic bowl, cover it with tin foil, and add a charcoal. Then the charcoal burns the mixture and produces a sweet smoke mixture of tobacco and fruit flavor from the burning mixture. Apparently the shop owner of the Sinbad Hookah Restaurant in CA, has an alternate theory to how a hookah works: "It's unlike any tobacco that is smoked where tobacco actually burns into ash. By using tobacco through a hookah here, we actually don't burn tobacco, we only heat it to extract the flavor out of it. The tobacco in this case only acts as a sponge. So what it really comes down to is you're smoking sugar." Sponge? Extract the flavor? Yeah, right, and I got this biodiesel reactor to sell you in Thailand too (I’m serious about that one).

In my alter-ego life back in the US, I’ve been studying the hookah in UNC’s School of Public Health with my PI Dr. Ball and my high school intern, Lawrence Le. It’s a really fun project, we’re collecting all the crap that comes of the hookah (the science term is TPM: total particulate matter) on filters, then putting the filters in a solution to get all the nasties out. We then apply this solution in different concentrations to mutated bacteria and see their response. Generally speaking, the more nastiness, the more colonies, because if the chemicals are nasty they cause many spontaneous mutations to the bacteria’s DNA and they form large colonies. So when we apply more solution, there are more and more colonies. That is until we apply so much that the bacteria accumulate so many mutations they kill themselves and then the curve starts to drop off.

So what does this tell us? It tells us how bad each milligram of hookah smoke is for the bacteria’s health. Then we compare this to how bad cigarette smoke is. We can also compare to pipe smoke, cigar smoke, marijuana smoke, diesel smoke, biodiesel smoke (yay!), and any of the 8000 chemcials that have already been tested in this manner. That way we can get an easy relationship to the effect of “smoking the hookah for one session is the equivalent of smoking 20 ciggarettes, or smoking a marijuana joint is equal to huffing biodiesel for 5 minutes,” etc. What are the results with the hookah? As of yet, the jury’s still out. But I should know in a couple days as all we have to do is count a few thousand bacteria colonies…. I’ll keep you posted….


  • At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So whats the verdict on the pm ratio of hookah to cigarette smoke? P.S. your blog is amazing!

  • At 2:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What was the conclusion for the hookah?


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