Difference Between Smoke and Vapor

Difference Between Smoke and Vapor

Difference Between Smoke and Vapor

As a book should never be judged by its cover, similar is the case with the cloud coming out of the smoker's mouth. Vaping sceptics and casual observers both easily confuse vaping with smoking; although they look quite similar but once exhaled, they are almost totally different things. There is a huge difference between both as they are made in different ways. To understand the difference between smoke and vapour, we have stripped down both the terms with their definitions.

Well, appearance can be no doubt deceiving; that's why most people prefer the vapour from vaporizers as "vape smoke" but that's completely incorrect as both are strikingly different due to their chemical composition. Though their visible similarities are self-evident, still some people are curious about its health hazards while others are concerned about its danger. So let's have a look!

Defining smoke

Smoke is created with fire. The keyword, in this case, is burned. When a cigarette is burnt with an open flame, smoke is created as a result of burning or combustion. It is the collection of particles of solids, liquids and gaseous aerosol which are emitted as a result of combustion. Thousands of new chemicals are formed by oxidations that are different from the ones initially burned. When a substance is drastically burnt, its chemical composition alters.

When the visible molecules of carbon are burnt, smoke is produced as the cannabis or tobacco smoked is destroyed literally by the high temperature of the flame. At the same time, other by-products of combustion are getting burnt with other molecules of those substances, and as a result, new substances are produced, which are quite dangerous to inhale.

Combustion is violent and rapid processes of chemical reactions producing toxic by-products. And do you know the quantity of these toxic by-products? Well, a few years ago, the research by conventional wisdom confirmed that cigarette smoke contains 4000 different chemicals, and the latest research of detection technology states that cigarette smoke is made up of 7000 different chemicals. Out of this, 250 chemicals are harmful, and 70 chemicals are considered carcinogenic and linked to cancer.

Smoke of tobacco

The tobacco used in cigarettes has chemicals that burn tobacco faster in order to absorb the nicotine faster. This idea is to burn the cigarette faster in order to uptake the nicotine faster; the more people smoke cigarettes. The tobacco in cigarettes is treated with ammonia to accelerate nicotine absorption in the brain. Tobacco has many chemical by-products like ammonia, lead, formaldehyde, benzene, hydrogen cyanide, diacetyl, carbon monoxide, nitrosamines, and many other radioactive elements. The smoke of cigarettes is ugly inside out as it sometimes contains radioactive materials due to the soil and fertilizers used for the growth of these tobacco leaves. These radioactive materials can cause significant harm to the smoker's lungs.

Smoke of cannabinoids

Once you burn cannabis, most of it is destroyed by heat, and the smoke which is created from burning them contains approximately 88 per cent of non-cannabinoid matter. So, smoking cannabis will waste most of its active ingredients. This smoke which is created due to burning, has carbon monoxide, tar and most of the other harmful toxins which are produced as a result of this process. Cannabis itself doesn't have carbon monoxide. This gas is rather created in the process of burning this herb.

Defining vape

Vaporizing is not a brutal process. It doesn't involve any open fire. It is like steam or cloud. In this case, a substance becomes gaseous at a lower temperature than its point of combustion or we can say that a substance in its gas form at a lower temperature than the critical temperature will condense the vapour into the liquid with an increased pressure but without reducing the temperature. So its state will alter when the liquid is vaporized, but the substance will have the same molecules as it had in the liquid state. This is considered vapour.

 The same chemicals are used in vapour as the ones found in the vaporized substances. The vapour has the same chemical makeup as boiling water. When we boil water, it creates vapours. The same is the case with the vapour, but it has a different state. The biggest takeaway of vaporizing is that it doesn't create any new compounds; instead, it maintains the same compounds of the substance which created it, as there is no fire involved, so vapour smoking is 100 % ash and smoke-free.


When we vape, the aerosol is produced instead of vapour. When we vape e-liquid, it turns into particles that are suspended in the air and fall quickly to the ground. As these particles are liquid, unlike the solid particles of cigarette smoke, they are not that dangerous for the lungs and cardiovascular system as cigarettes. The e-liquids mixture is superheated by the atomizer coil, which then turns into inhalable flavoured vapour.

The nicotine and flavour are absorbed by your body, and the rest of the water vapour is exhaled like a cloud. It has no odour and toxins except for a sweet-smelling vapour cloud. The vapour smoke doesn't even have carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and even the combustion process; that's why e-cigs are much safer than cigarettes.

They are typically made up of 4 compounds,

  • Propylene glycol

This is a preservative present in the food industry, shampoos, and cosmetics. It gives a throat hit to vapers which mimic the effect of smoking.

  • Nicotine

It acts as a stimulant to increase breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. This chemical is found naturally in the tobacco plant.

  • Vegetable Glycerin

It gives a thicker consistency to the E-juice and produces the clouds in vaping. Even in the cosmetic industry, it's a popular product.

  • Food Flavouring

Many varied and plentiful flavourings of e-juice are used in vaping devices. They are used in many foods like confectionery, drinks and yoghurts etc., for a long time.

Each of these chemicals is approved by the FDA for human consumption as they stay in the same form once the liquid is transformed into a vape. It is vital for the vapours to use e-liquids manufactured by trained professionals in professional lab settings.

Smoke of cannabis

Vapour is much pure as nothing is burned, and no specific toxic products are produced. The vapours of cannabis consist of almost 95 cannabinoids and a remaining 5 per cent of flavonoids and a single hydrocarbon.

Smoke vs vapour

If we compare smoke and vapour, there is clearly a big difference between them. It is quite noteworthy that vapour doesn't contain ash, tar or odour as smoking does. Tar not only damages the lungs but is also responsible for rotting the teeth. Similarly, carbon monoxide is a drastically poisonous gas that harms the body in many ways. Health agencies have revealed that vapour is almost 95 % safer as compared to smoking. There are four basic differences between smoke and vapour.

  1. Chemical composition

The only thing common in tobacco and e-liquid is nicotine. The smoke of tobacco contains thousands of chemicals, among which 70 of them are proven as carcinogens and unhealthy to inhale. According to the CDC, everything in e-liquid is safe except nicotine.

  1. Smell

Though vapour clouds are denser and dissipate slower, their smell is more pleasant and disappears much quicker than cigarettes, whose smoke lingers in the room for a much longer time. Nonsmokers and vapers can recognize this smell in a closed room even after hours of smoking a cigarette.

  1. Temperature

The cigarette temperature is around 1112 F at rest which rises to 1652 F when you take a puff, whereas e-cigarettes vaporize e-liquids at lower temperatures, not more than 482 F. that's why the vapour that is exhaled is much cooler and even has a lower temperature than the surrounding.

  1. Residue

Smoking stains everything which comes in contact with it. Carbon monoxide and tar in cigarettes are responsible for staining your fabrics, walls and furniture, whereas PG and VG in vapour won't do that. The maximum it will do is producing a blur and thin coat on your glass surfaces which can be cleaned up easily.

Final verdict

Vapour smoking is a much smarter alternative to traditional smoking. From the above article, it is quite obvious that vaping is better for health if compared to smoking as you don't inhale any harmful substance which is found in smoke. So vapers are at much less risk to diseases, breathlessness, and cough and are healthier.

Traditionally vapes were quite large and were not portable, but the new generation vaporizers are extremely efficient and well made like the pen vaporizers, which are ready for use in just 5 seconds. Besides being portable and small, they are much more discreet as the odour is not a concern anymore. You can even vaporize in a public place as the risk of second-hand vapour is quite less than that of second-hand smoke.

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