Vaporizers & Vaping

Does Vaping Smell? The Real Answer

Gabi Antunes

Aug 1, 2019

Many people assume that vaping produces an odor similar to those produced by combustible consumption methods. Luckily, the smell from the vape is nowhere near as harsh and distinctive as one from a pre-roll or similar product.

While there is no way around the fact that vaporizers do produce a smell, that unmistakable musk is reduced with a vaporizer, ensuring discretion and privacy that combusting material simply can’t offer.

Does vaping smell?

While vaping does produce a slight smell, vapor does not have a noxious, lingering odor in the same way smoke does. If you’ve ever been at a campsite the night after a campfire was roaring, the whole area will still smell of smoke, and so will any clothes or other fibrous materials that were near the campfire before it was extinguished. Vapor doesn’t work the same way. While there is a general aroma when a vapor cloud is first produced, it quickly dissipates and doesn’t linger on any nearby materials.

Why does that happen?

The main difference between smoke and vapor is combustion. When vaporizing something, you are boiling it so the cannabis materials transform into their gaseous form. When this happens, there is no chemical change in the compounds that make up the material. Smoke, on the other hand, is the product of incomplete combustion, during which hydrocarbons are produced by the breaking down of various compounds. During combustion, compounds are chemically altered, rather than simply turned into a gas.

What does this have to do with smell? When material combusts and compounds begin to change in form, many of the particles settle into clothing, furniture, and other materials nearby that capture and absorb these smells. This is called the “coating effect.” These particles also trap the smell of the combusting material. It can be extremely hard to rid objects of the smoky smell left behind by these particles, which results in the familiar odor of smoke – and the familiar experience of never getting that “smoke smell” out of your environment.

Vapor is thinner and less dense than smoke, and doesn’t contain those hydrocarbons that capture smell and stick to surfaces. Compare the example of a campfire with a pot of boiling water; the water vapor created when hard-boiling food, for example, does not linger on once the burner has been switched off. This is because, unlike smoke, the water has simply been turned into a gaseous form. No compounds have been broken down, meaning hydrocarbons won’t coat the surrounding surfaces.

The lack of a lingering scent is a definite benefit of vaping, but if you want an added level of discretion you should select a vaporizer that allows you to reduce or control the intensity of smell.

What are the devices that have reduced smell?

If reducing smell is important to you, look for a vaporizer that gives you as much control as possible over vapor production and material conservation. These features can help keep your vapor clouds to a minimum. The more control you have, the easier it is to keep the smell of your vape under control.

The best vaporizers for reducing the smell of your vapor clouds are the ones with various temperature settings. Generally, a lower temperature results in lighter vapor production, meaning you can more easily reduce the smell and increase the discretion of your session. Look for a device that allows you to customize your temperature settings, and especially for a device that supports temperatures in the lower range.

Some devices like the PAX 3 can connect via Bluetooth® to a mobile application, which grants you additional control over your sessions. PAX offers five dynamic modes, each of which has a different profile of settings depending on your desired experience. The Stealth Mode, for example, keeps vapor production low and cools down quickly between draws, ensuring material is only vaporized as needed and reducing the scent produced during sessions.

Other things you can do to reduce smell

Of course, there are additional measures you can take to reduce the smell of your vaporizer. Because vapor dissipates quickly, these cover-ups only need to be temporarily effective. By the time they give out, the smell of your vapor clouds should be diminished or gone.

  • Light a scented candle: Scented candles are a great way to minimize the smell of a vaporizer. Not only do they smell pleasant, but because candles cause wax to combust, the smell should overpower a vapor cloud and linger for longer.
  • Use an air freshener: You can use air fresheners to cover-up the initial smell of vapor until it dissipates. Whether you use a plug-in air freshener or a spray bottle in an enclosed space where vaping is permitted, make sure the freshener is closer to the doors and windows than your vapor cloud to cover up the scent effectively.
  • Use a fan: If you’re fine with the smell of vapor going out the window of your permitted vaping area, you can position a fan in front of it and angle out outside. Exhaling vapor in the direction of the fan will remove it from the room and send it directly out the window.
  • Keep your vape clean: You can reduce the smell your vape produces by cleaning it after every use. Avoiding the build-up of residue in the chamber or vapor path of your device is key to minimizing smell.
  • Store cannabis materials properly: Finally, when you’re not using your cannabis material, it’s important to store it properly. Whether you are vaporizing dry herbs or concentrates, they can give off an odor. Storing cannabis materials in an airtight container when not in use can keep unwanted scents from drifting throughout a room. There are also smell-proof bags available which help contain the smell of your cannabis material.

Vaporizers certainly reduce smell when compared to smoking, but it’s important to remember that they do produce a scent of their own as the device warms up. However, by choosing a vape you can control, keeping it clean, and taking a few precautionary measures, you can minimize your vape’s smell and hopefully not disturb anyone or give away your session.