The Science Behind Smoking vs Vaping

What are the health risks of smoking? 

The truth is: when something is set on fire, like the end of a cigarette, it is involved in a process called ‘combustion’. Here we go. Science lesson incoming! Combustion occurs at around 900 degrees and releases a variety of dangerous toxins into the air, and if inhaled, into the body.

As previously stated, combustion releases dangerous toxins due to the level of heat that it reaches. These toxins, if inhaled often, can have serious health risks. In fact, smoking can have detrimental effects to almost every part of the body: the heart, brain and lungs are all subject to smoking’s risks.

Why do people smoke then? Well, many people believe that the health risks of smoking have only become known recently. And partly, that’s true. Modern science and time has allowed people to realise the dangers of smoking. However, in 1602 a man published a piece of writing called ‘The Worke of Chimney Sweeps’, where he likened the illnesses of chimney sweepers to that of smokers. Whilst not many took these findings seriously, it is untrue to think that people were completely unaware of the dangers of smoking. 

Are there any health benefits to smoking? 

Smoking has been around for a long while, and evidently hasn’t harmed everyone that’s done it. That’s a fact. It would be a lie to pretend that some evidence hadn’t shown that there are some benefits of smoking. For example, there have been some discoveries which suggest that smoking nicotine may assist in preventing parkinson’s disease and Alzheimers. Not only that, smoking can often help with stomach pains. 

More importantly, it depends on what you are smoking. Cannabis is being used more and more frequently for medicinal purposes now. Therefore, the health benefits of smoking weed are becoming more evident. There is research to suggest that smoking weed can help with a range of different issues: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • PTSD
  • Sleep Deprivation 
  • Bone Growth 
  • Inflammation 
  • Pain
  • Muscle Spasming 
  • Nausea 
  • Blood Sugar Levels 

The History of Vaping

Now we move on to vaping. The thing that looks like crazy, futuristic smoke coming out of a lightsaber..sort of. But importantly, this isn’t smoke, It’s vapour. What is that? We’ll get on to that later. 

The history of vaping is just as long and extensive as smoking. Some even go as far as to link it back to the Ancient Egyptians. They were known to have placed hemp seeds on top of red-hot rocks, wait for them to release steam, and then inhale it. Crazy, huh? If you want to know the full history of the vaporizer make sure to check out this article: ‘a brief history of the vaporizer’

Within the vaping world you have both e-cigarettes and dry herb vaporizers, which work slightly differently. You also have flavoured vapes too, but they work much the same as the electric cigarette, just without nicotine. The dry herb vaporizer heats up the pure weed in its chamber, whilst the e-cigarette uses nicotine cartridges which it heats up. 

The simple history of the dry herb vaporizer goes a little bit like this… the hookah water pipe came along, then the shake & vape was created in 1993, and after that, vaping culture took off in the 2000s and now dry herb vaporizers are a lot more advanced and common. Alongside that was the e-cigarette, which Herbert E. Gilbert became the closest to creating in 1965. Gilbert created a device which could produce flavoured steam, without actually burning anything. Similar to the dry herb vaporizer, the idea of an electric cigarette didn’t become popular until the 2000s either; when vaping really became an attractive alternative. 

What is Vaping?

To understand what vaping is, it’s important to understand what it’s not. Vaping does not include combustion (which we spoke about earlier). Vaping instead is part of the process of conduction or convection. Another science lesson! One heats from below, whilst the other heats from around. Both slowly warm up either liquid or dry herbs, which creates a steam (vapour) that can be inhaled. This process stays at around the 200 degree mark, meaning it’s less damaging to the body and throat. However, that’s not to say there are no health risks to vaping. 

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What are the health risks of vaping?

Although vaping is a much less harmful activity than smoking, there are still embedded health risks. Nicotine is an addictive substance which can leave you craving for more, and suffer withdrawal symptoms if you don’t have any. It also is a toxic substance and can do damage to your heart by raising your blood pressure. 

There’s also been a bit of recent research done into the phenomenon of ‘popcorn lung’.

Popcorn lung was first identified as an issue when a group of workers from a popcorn factory began to have problems with their lungs due to breathing in a chemical which helped popcorn have a buttery flavour. The same sort of process is thought to be being caused by vaping, after there were 2,807 recorded cases of popcorn lung in the USA as of February 28th 2020, along with 68 deaths. There’s still research being done into this. 

Are there any health benefits of vaping?

The benefits of vaping come simply from what it’s there to do. Vaping came into existence to act as an alternative to smoking; a healthier alternative. And that is what it does. Whether you’re looking for a healthier way to inhale weed with a dry herb vaporizer, or whether you want to inhale nicotine through an electric cigarette, both are somewhat better for you than smoking. Vaping is less harsh on the throat, due to its lower heat level, and it avoids some of the dangerous toxins caused by burning a cigarette. 

However, the truth is that edibles would be more healthy (by definition) than vaping or smoking. But life is short, and people like what they like. 

What is Vaping?

To understand what vaping is, it’s important to understand what it’s not. Vaping does not include combustion (which we spoke about earlier). Vaping instead is part of the process of conduction or convection. Another science lesson! One heats from below, whilst the other heats from around. Both slowly warm up either liquid or dry herbs, which creates a steam (vapour) that can be inhaled. This process stays at around the 200 degree mark, meaning it’s less damaging to the body and throat. However, that’s not to say there are no health risks to vaping. 


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