When you smoke a cigarette, the smoke that is created is the result of combustion, or the burning of the cigarette itself and the materials it contains. When you burn something – anything – you dramatically alter its chemical composition. Smoke is made of visible particles of carbon, the substance you’re burning, and other byproducts of combustion – in other words, burning something creates a variety of substances, and many of these substances are extremely harmful to inhale.

Vaping is different because when you vapourize a substance, such as e-liquid, you do alter its state. However, the vapour will contain the same molecules as the pre-vapourised substance. Technically speaking, the “vapour” produced when you vape isn’t vapor at all, but rather aerosol. This aerosol is a suspension of fine particles of your vape juice that remain suspended in the air for just a short time and then fall to the ground. Because the particles are liquid – not solid, like the particles found in cigarette smoke – they don’t carry the same risks when inhaled.

Smoke vs vapor

As mentioned above, lighting a cigarette produces smoke, while vapourising e-juice produces vapor. Let’s take a look at the specific ways in which these two substances are different from one another.

  • Their compositions are different. Again, the only thing smoke and vapour have in common when it comes to their composition is nicotine. Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens and many more otherwise harmful to inhale. By contrast, everything found in e-liquid – and its vapor – is safe to ingest.
  • Vapour smells much better. The odour associated with cigarette smoke lingers in a room for long periods of time, unlike vapour. Vapour dissipates almost immediately, as does its aroma (which is pleasant in the first place, unlike smoke). Smoke a cigarette in a closed room, and you’ll still be able to smell it hours or even days later – not the case with e-cigs.
  • Smoke leaves a residue. Smoking inside a room, home, or vehicle over time will cause walls, furniture, and other materials to become stained yellow. That’s because of tar – a sticky, resinous substance that helps create the nasty residue that smoke leaves behind. Smoke also contains other combustion byproducts that contribute to this staining, such as carbon monoxide.