Difference between smoke and vapour

The difference between smoke and vapour

Imagine a scenario when you are on a bus or underground traveling home. Vaping your e cig, producing big or small clouds, and just enjoying the vanilla taste in your mouth. Then the elderly lady sitting next to you stands up with a grimace on her face and sits further away from you. Now, this lady thinks that you are exhaling smoke, not knowing that what you are actually exhaling is vapour.

This article will investigate the difference between smoke and vapour. The definition of smoke and vapour, which one is harmful, and how it affects our everyday lives.

What is smoke?

Smoke from a burning cigarette is a “concentrated aerosol of liquid particles suspended in an atmosphere consisting mainly of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide” (Guerin 1980p. 201). Tobacco smoke is a complex chemical mixture with approximately 7,000 chemical ingredients created as a result of combustion, which is the fancy word for burning. When you smoke, you light up your cigarette with fire, burning the tobacco and the materials inside it. As a result, the compounds are changing, and a variety of substances are created from which plenty are harmful.

What is vapour?

Vapour is a gaseous state of a substance that is heated but never reaching its critical point meaning the point of combustion. What happens is that – in our case e liquid – is heated and vapourized. Therefore creating a different state, but the same chemical substances remain. This is different than smoke, where the substances are altered during the burning phase.

If we want to be really technical, we can say that vapour is aerosol. The definition of aerosol, according to Wikipedia, is “An aerosol is a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in air or another gas.” These particles remain in the air for a short period and then fall to the ground.

So why do we use the word vapour instead of aerosol in the vaping world? There is no specific reason but maybe because it is a more uncomplicated word, and there isn’t much difference between them.

Vapour vs. smoke

With an e cigarette, you produce vapour, while with smoking a cigarette, you produce smoke. They look very similar but, as explained above, are two completely different in composition, smell, and behaviour. However, they have one thing in common: nicotine – unless you use nicotine-free e juice.

Harmfulness of vapour and smoke

In the topic of harmfulness, smoke is the bad guy. Due to the burning and the alteration of components, smoke includes many harmful substances. At least 70 of these are carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals causing cancer, therefore unhealthy to inhale. A few examples are cyanide, methanol, carbon monoxide, arsenic, nitrogen oxide, and more.

Vapour coming from an e juice, on the other hand, is safe to ingest. The ingredients of an e liquid are VG (vegetable glycerin) and PG (propylene glycerin) and different food flavourings that are proven to be safe. The only harmful element in a vapour of an e juice is nicotine, which can cause addiction.


This is easy. Smoke smells bad, and vapour does not. But it’s not just that. When someone is smoking in a closed-off area, the smell lingers in the room for an extended time. While smoke is less dense and appears faster than vapour, it leaves a hard-to-clean residue. You can smell smoke on your clothes, hair, and everywhere due to solid particles and not liquid.

On the other hand, vapour is a liquid that might stay on your glass, creating a thin layer but will clear itself quickly. Also, depending on the flavourings you add to your e juice vapour smells lovely and delicious.

Now that you know the difference between the two, when you hear someone saying “vape smoke,” you will know there is no such thing as the two are absolutely can’t be used together. Vape does not produce smoke; it’s not harmful and does not smell bad. So I suggest you give it a try – if you haven’t done already.

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