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Vapor Vs Smoke

Although it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between e-cig vapour (or "vapor") and cigarette smoke, there is a huge difference between the two. Of course, a huge, thick cloud of a dense white substance is usually pretty indicative of e-cig vapour, but smaller and more subtle clouds aren't quite so obvious.

Even for veteran smokers and vapers alike, sometimes it can be easy to mistake a cloud of e-cig vapour for a cancerous cloud of disgusting second-hand smoke.

If you are new to vaping in particular, you may be wondering what the difference between cigarette smoke and vapour smoke is. After all, they look pretty similar so they must be… right?

Wrong! In fact, they are polar opposites. Here's why…

The Two Defined

Simply by looking at the English language definitions of the two words, we can see that they are two very different beasts.

By definition, smoke is "a visible suspension of carbon or other particles in the air, typically one emitted from a burning substance." In contrast, vapour is "a substance diffused or suspended in the air, especially one normally liquid or solid."

What's the Difference?

Smoke is the direct result of burning, or combustion. When combustion takes place, new chemicals are formed through a reaction known as oxidation. When tobacco is burned, for example, thousands of new chemicals (some harmful and cancerous) are formed.

Vapour, on the other hand, contains the same chemicals like those found in the substance that has been vaporized---nothing new is formed.

Is "Vapour Smoke" a Real Thing?

Although vapour is often called "vapour smoke", this is not a correct term because it is an oxymoron; vapour is vapour and smoke is smoke.

While there are lots of visual similarities, they are both very different things.

Let's break down the elements.

Chemical Composition

Vape juice and tobacco only have one thing in common---nicotine. In some cases, vape juices, which are also known as e-juices and e-liquids, don't even contain nicotine, making the two worlds apart from another.

Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals, many of which are cancer-causing, and most of which are harmful when inhaled. These chemicals include:

  • Methanol
  • Formaldehyde
  • Arsenic
  • Chromium
  • Cadmium
  • Ammonia
  • Nitrogen oxide
  • Carbon monoxide

Vape juice, on the other hand, is made up of a few key ingredients including food-grade flavourings and colourings, vegetable glycerine, and propylene glycol alongside nicotine.

Everything contained in vape juices and e-liquids is safe to ingest according to several health authorities including the U.S. Center for Disease Control. The only exception to this is nicotine---nicotine is viewed as "harmful" because it is addictive, not because it is known to cause physical harm when ingested. Nicotine is only known to cause physical harm when a large amount (amounts not achievable through smoking or vaping) is ingested.

Smell and Taste

Cigarette smoke lingers. It sticks to you. It emanates a distinct odour that many people think of as displeasing. Although smokers may not notice it, non-smokers will be able to smell residual cigarette smoke in an enclosed space several hours after it has been there.

E-liquids, however, often taste and smell pleasant. This is, of course, subjective because they come in thousands of different flavours---everything from popular sodas, cereals, fruits, desserts, and even tobacco flavours are covered. The smell also does not linger on clothes or in a room like a cigarette's smoke does.

Lingering Residue

Over time, cigarette smoke will stain your walls a dingy yellow colour. It will cling to anything that is made of fabric and your curtains, sofas, and clothes will all have a distinct grimy smell. And, if you are a particularly heavy smoker, the room will always smell of it.

E-liquids do not do this. Although they produce a dense cloud of vapour that doesn't always dissipate quickly, the smell doesn't stick around. It won't damage your furniture. It won't stain your walls. It won't assault your visitors' senses when they come into your home---that is, unless you've been practising for a cloud competition right before they arrived.

"E-Cigarettes Contain Nicotine… They Must Be Harmful!"

This is a common misconception when it comes to vaping.

Research has shown that as many as four in ten smokers and ex-smokers incorrectly believe that nicotine is the cause of cancer when it is linked to tobacco smoking. Plenty of research has, in fact, shown that nicotine actually has little-to-no negative impact on long-term health. It is all the other ugly chemicals that we have covered that cause cancer and are harmful to your health.

However, because nicotine is the substance that causes people to become addicted to smoking cigarettes, this vaping myth continues to rear its ugly head.

Vapour from e-cigs does not contain tar or carbon monoxide. These are two of the most harmful elements found in cigarette smoke. In fact, e-liquids that are nicotine-free are also widely available.

Public Health England, a UK health authority, has even gone so far as to say that while e-cigarettes are not risk-free, they are "at least 95% less harmful" than traditional cigarettes.

Does "Vapour Smoke" Harm Bystanders?

Although research has shown that second-hand cigarette smoke is harmful, the same cannot be said for e-cig vapour.

To date, there have been no health risks identified with so-called "passive vaping" and second-hand e-cig vapour poses no known threat to bystanders aside from those who suffer from respiratory disorders such as asthma. Even then, however, the risks are believed to be very minor.

Want to See for Yourself?

Whether you're simply intrigued by the idea of vaping or you are a current smoker who wants to give their bad habit the boot, there is no better place to start than here at Vaper Empire. Not only do we have a blog and website packed full of valuable resources like this article, but our online store also has everything you need to get started with vaping.

Our products are some of Australia's foremost vaping products and we have everything from traditional cig-a-like e-cigs to vape tanks, accessories, vape mods, and a wide range of e-liquid options that include all the flavours you can think of and more.

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