What's The Difference Between Smoke & Vapor?

Have you ever seen anyone take a long puff off of a vape pen and release a billowing cloud of thick vapor? To the untrained eye, smoking and vaping look nearly identical. After all, both involve inhaling compounds like nicotine or cannabis and exhaling visible plumes of translucent mist, so how different could they really be? It turns out quite different! Keep reading and find out what’s the difference between vapor and smoke.

What Is Smoking?

smoking a joint

Smoke is the end product that results from lighting up something like a joint, cigarette, bong, or pipe. While it may look like a gas, smoke is actually made up of solid, liquid, and gaseous particulates. This is due to the fundamental difference between smoking and vaping—combustion. 

Combustion occurs at high temperatures, typically over 600 degrees Fahrenheit when we’re talking about the open flame of your household Bic pocket lighter, and causes the material that’s being heated to literally burn away. Hence the white ash at the end of your blunt or in the bottom of your bowl. 

Not all of the combusted residue ends up as ash; some of it winds up in the smoke that you inhale. Some of this particulate is known to be carcinogenic, meaning prolonged exposure could increase someone’s risk for developing cancers. Not to mention the fact that inhaling any kind of combusted particulate like this is detrimental to lung health. 

What Is Vaping?

vape cartridge device

Typically when something is smoked, it starts out as a solid piece of matter. Take, for example, the loose-leaf tobacco packed into a cigarette or the ground cannabis flower packed into a hand pipe. Vaping, however, most often relies on a synthetic liquid, like e juice or cannabis oil. 

Your average handheld vape then heats that liquid to a much lower temperature than you see with smoking, somewhere between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit on average. At this temperature, the liquid material doesn’t combust like with smoking. Instead, it heats the liquid just to the point of converting the liquid into a gas without changing the chemical composition. Think like steam coming off of a boiling pot of water. 

Because vaping takes place below the temperature for combustion, there are significantly less cancer-causing carcinogens being absorbed into the lungs, as well as less potentially harmful smoke particulates. This form of vaping is generally accepted to be a safer alternative to smoking.

What Are Heat Not Burn Products? 

no combustion in heat not burn

Heat not burn products, in a sense, bridge the gap between smoking and vaping. Unlike with vapes, heat not burn products don’t use artificial liquids. Instead, they use natural plant material like tobacco or cannabis flower. However, unlike with smoking, heat not burn devices don’t burn tobacco product they reach low level combustion temperatures. This allows users to enjoy the benefits of real plants while still mitigating the harmful and potentially harmful health risk. 

Heat not burn products were originally designed for the tobacco industry, but it’s easy to see the appeal for cannabis. Not only does using real hemp or cannabis flower help encourage the entourage effect, but burning at a lower temperature helps to preserve terpenes, resulting in a more robust overall flavor profile. 

Our signature product, the elon®, utilizes our own patented heat-not-burn tech to perfectly heat CBD-rich hemp to the ideal temperature for cannabinoids and terpenes. Its lightweight design and long battery life make elon® perfect for the on-the-go student or professional who wants to access the therapeutic potential of CBD wherever they are. Order our Starter Bundle today to receive the device itself and your choice of two of our signature hemp blends—stelo™ Uplift, stelo™ Relax, or stelo™ Relief.

Lifestyle Science