What Is Vapor?

During debates about the pros and cons of e cigs, electronic cigarettes users and manufacturers continue to stress this difference: cigarettes produce smoke; e cigs produce vapor. What is vapor and how is it different from smoke?


Cigarettes are simple inventions operating via combustion. Several ingredients are wrapped in cigarette paper. These include dry tobacco plus many toxins. Together, they form a tube that lights easily, like dry tinder in a fire pit. Lighting a cigarette is not technical: you put a lit match or lighter flame to the end and the product starts to burn without catching fire.

When something burns, it produces smoke even if there is no flame, just burning embers. Inhaling smoke is an unpleasant experience even when smoke is produced by burning clean, dry wood and twigs. If you have ever smelled a fire produced by burning garbage, however, you know that smoke is just one problem: the odor is disgusting.

It is an aroma that clings to the clothing of people nearby. That is what cigarette smoke does: it clings to the body, clothes, and hair of users and second-hand smokers, toxic chemicals and all, often masking the pleasant smell of tobacco.


Vapor is the state a material takes when it has been heated. Scientists explain that it is distinct from gas because vapor is produced when something is changed from its ordinary state.

When an item begins as a liquid, it can be heated to the boiling point and beyond and will always form vapor until the liquid has boiled away. Water vapor is really water droplets hanging in the air. Solids are not vaporized but organic solids can produce water vapor if they become hot enough.

What are Vaporizers?

Is it okay to inhale the vapor produced by vaporizers? Realizing that vapor can be created from many substances, what are consumers inhaling through e cigs and herbal vaporizers?

The primary thing they are inhaling is water. You can see from the white clouds they produce that not much else, if anything, is in that vapor. At least, that is what e cig manufacturers and customers are hoping. Scientific studies will confirm or disprove this theory in the months to come.

One can be fairly certain that vaping vapors is cleaner than smoke just by comparing emissions: dark grey or brown clouds versus fluffy, summer-day clouds.

Herbal vaporizers extract the liquid from a dry material or convert oil into vapor by heating them electronically, but not to the point of setting materials alight. Though this can happen, such an event would point to malfunction. Vaporizers are designed to heat materials only as much as is required to release water vapor from them. Even solids such as tobacco leaves and ground lavender contain water as do all organic things.

In the case of e cigs, the process is even simpler. A pen is filled with liquid. Changing its state is simpler and requires less energy.

Both consumers puff on the mouthpiece of a device, a wand, or a balloon, to extract the vapor created by heating an aromatic material.