The Difference Between Smoke and Vapor

The Difference Between Smoke and Vapor

The boundless roadways of the information superhighway are congested with vaping–smoking comparisons. When it comes to news regarding the actual differences between smoke and vapor, however, the Internet’s never-ending avenues are very limited.

As in most cases, knowledge is power. In order to accurately identify varying qualities between smoke and vapor, we have to first examine the elements involved and understand the science behind it. When analyzing the components of smoke and vapor, the differentiating factor is fire.

Smoke and Vapor Production

Burning is a change of state where compound molecules are broken down and recombined (oxidized) to form new elements. Gases, ash, light, and heat are generated. Smoking a traditional cigarette involves the combustion or ignition of the tobacco from the extreme temperature of an open flame.

Vaping, on the other hand, doesn’t involve an open flame or combustion. Instead, it heats the liquid until it enters a gaseous state; it vaporizes the E-liquid, and these visible particulate gas molecules are in turn inhaled.

Smoke and Vapor Constitution

According to the American Cancer Society, cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and, in some cases, even arsenic. These chemicals are formed as the cigarette material breaks down in the combustion process and recombines into new compounds. Every time a smoker takes a drag, the majority of these compounds, the most notable being tar, remain in his or her body.

Conversely, vapor is thought to be purer and lack the toxins normally found in smoke. Just as you heat a pot of water, for example, and the water turns into steam and vapor, E-liquids shift to an inhalable flavored vapor when heated by the atomizer coil. The absence of burning results in an odorless vapor free of toxins formed during combustion.

Smoke and Vapor Smell

Another major difference between smoke and vapor is perception of smell. As previously mentioned, tar is a key element produced by cigarette smoke, and it has a tendency to stick to smokers’ lungs. Consequently, the unpleasant burning odor from lingering tar can cause clothes, hair or anything close in proximity to smell.

Whereas, vapor doesn’t cling to its surroundings like smoke, and since it subsides much more rapidly, its smell is unlikely to linger.

The next time someone asks the difference between vapor and smoke, just tell them to compare a pot of hot water with an ashtray containing a lit cigarette. If they still don’t get the point, kindly direct them to this article.


The opinions and other information contained in these blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Nicopure Labs LLC, owner of the Halo and HaloCigs marks.

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