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What are the Differences Between Vapor and Smoke?

What are the Differences Between Vapor and Smoke?

Although both are diffused matter that lingers in the air, both vapor and smoke are extremely different from each other. This is why on today’s blog we take a look at the three main differences that make them polar opposites. 

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Smoke?
  2. What is Vapor?
  3. What are the Differences Between Vapor and Smoke?
  4. Difference #1: Introduction of New Chemicals
  5. Difference #2: Smell
  6. Difference #3: Stains
  7. Conclusion

What is Smoke?

Merriam-Webster defines smoke as “the gaseous products of burning materials, especially of organic origin, made visible by the presence of small particles of carbon.” In other words, smoke is created when something is burned, a process known as combustion. 

When combustion occurs and smoke is created, new chemicals are introduced into the air that appear during combustion. So you get a mix of the particles from the organic materials being burned, particles of carbon, and other particles that are formed because combustion occurs. These particles can create strong smells that linger and stick to surfaces, clothes, and pretty much anything else. 

What is Vapor?

Vapor on the other hand is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a substance in the gaseous state as distinguished from the liquid or solid state”, meaning that vapor continues being the same substance in a different state and doesn’t create new particles or chemicals since it will be composed of the same particles. No combustion nor burning of organic matter occurs, it simply changes a portion of a liquid into a new state. 

The best example, and one that is used often, is a boiling pot of water. Although you heat it with fire, you are not burning anything, you simply are changing the temperature of the water to make steam without any new chemicals.

What are the Differences Between Vapor and Smoke?

There are three main differences between vapor and smoke: the chemicals that are introduced, the smell, and the stains that are created. 

Difference #1: Introduction of New Chemicals

Perhaps the biggest difference between smoke and vapor is that smoke, when created, introduces new chemicals into the air where the combustion takes place. On the other hand, if you were to create vapor, you would get the exact same chemicals of the liquid that evaporated without any new chemicals being introduced. 

Difference #2: Smell

Another major difference between the two is smell. Because combustion creates new chemicals and byproducts, it can transform the organic material being burned and create a strong smell that is hard to get rid off. Just think back on when you last went camping. Were you near a campfire? If so, you probably noticed that even after the fire died, everything around you smelt like burnt wood. 

On the other hand, with vapor there is no strong smell. Just go and stand next to a boiling pot of water and you’ll realize that there is no lingering strong smell. You can stand next to the pot for hours and you wouldn't detect any unusual smells. 

Difference #3: Stains

Another difference between smoke and vapor is that smoke can leave stains behind. This is thanks to those new chemicals that are introduced and is also partly why the smell tends to linger long after the source of the smoke has disappeared. Although these particles seem to disappear in the air, they are actually sticky and leave their mark on surfaces. Just think back on any chimney. If it is used often, you’ll see on top of the chimney smoke marks of past fires. Again with vapor this will never happen. If it did, you would notice marks all over the cabinets of your stove from heating up water. 


These are the major differences between vapor and smoke that makes them fundamentally different. Smoke tends to creates smells and stains that linger longer after the source of the smoke is gone, while vapor disappears almost immediately leaving no trace behind that it ever existed. More importantly the thing that you should take with you, is that when smoke is created new chemicals are created, but when vapor is created it is simply a transfer of state from liquid to gas.


EjuiceDB articles and blogs are meant to entertain and educate. However, we are not medical professionals and do not intend to give medical advice through them. Furthermore, Vaping products and nicotine use are only meant for persons over the age of 21.

Children, breastfeeding and pregnant women, persons with risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or that take medications especially for depression or asthma should not use nicotine or vaping products. Always consult a licensed physician prior to use.

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Andres Roman

Andres Roman is a content writer with 3+ years of experience, a former 3 pack a week smoker who used vaping to kick the habit, he now wants to educate the world about vaping. You can find him on Linkedin and Twitter.