A hand holds a vape pen in front of a background of hemp leaves.

How Does a Vape Work vs. Smoking?

Smoking and vaping seem pretty similar, at least on the surface. However, these two methods of enjoying cannabinoids are different in some pretty important ways.

Vaping, despite what it may look like, doesn’t involve smoking at all. Instead, an oil containing cannabinoids is heated by a coil inside of a vape pen to release vapor.

So, what else distinguishes vaping vs smoking? How does a vape work? Keep reading to learn more about smoking and vaping cannabinoids.

How Does a Vape Work? The Basics

Vapes come in many forms, including disposable vapes and reusable vape batteries (also called vape pens) that attach to cartridges. However, they all work similarly.

The key components of a fully assembled and ready-to-use vape are the:

  • Battery, which provides the power needed for the heating element.
  • The heating element or coil, which heats the liquid in the cartridge until it changes into a vapor.
  • The cartridge, which contains the active ingredients.

There are other important parts of a vape. These include the mouthpiece, microprocessor (which is vital for a vape as an electronic device), and the wick that draws concentrate to be heated. However, the three items listed above are truly foundational for creating cannabinoid-filled vapor.

More Advanced Vape Features

There are levels to vape technology. Basic vapes are no-frills. They heat the cannabinoid liquid (or other active ingredients) when activated, and that’s about it.

More advanced vapes give users additional control over their experience. Some vape pens allow you to adjust the heat setting. That can be achieved by pushing a button on the vape. A light somewhere on the vape will usually change color to indicate the changed setting.

You may also find vapes with buttons and a small display screen that displays information about the device. These vapes can allow for more precise control of the heat and other settings.

Some vapes allow you to preheat before drawing by holding down the button or pressing it in a certain sequence. This can help move thicker vape liquids and concentrates toward the heating element.

Advanced vapes may also offer extra features like different color and light intensity settings. These features don’t affect the actual process of vaping. Instead, they offer users the opportunity to change their vape’s aesthetics.

How Vape Pens and Cartridges Work

So, how does a vape pen work? There are a few different common mechanisms for activating a vape pen:

  • Activating the heating element by drawing on the mouthpiece. This is the simplest option, as there are no buttons to push. This structure is often how a disposable vape works.
  • Pressing or holding a button while drawing. This is common in more advanced vapes that provide users with an additional level of control.

If you’re wondering “How does a vape cartridge work?”, there’s a simple answer.

The cartridge itself doesn’t have moving parts or components that activate and deactivate. Instead, a vape cart’s role is to hold the liquid until it’s time to be drawn into the heating chamber.

The cartridge can be a chamber built into a disposable vape. It can also be a separate unit that screws into a reusable vape pen.

A woman uses a vape in front of a large mural.

Vaping vs. Smoking: Key Differences

Vaping and smoking seem pretty similar on the surface. There’s heat that produces smoke or something that looks like it, which you inhale. Despite their appearances, vaping and smoking are very different.

Smoking involves applying heat directly to cannabinoid flower until it burns or combusts. The active ingredients and plant material both burn, and you inhale the smoke.

Vaping heats concentrates to a temperature below combustion, as WeedMaps points out. The active ingredients and carrier oil vaporize but do not burn.

No matter what you vape, it’s the same principle. This concept applies to nicotine vapes and vaping vs. smoking weed (i.e. cannabis as opposed to hemp-based products), too.

Is Vaping Better than Smoking?

Vaping concentrates appears to be less harmful than smoking. The Canadian Journal of Public Health explains this reduction in harm with vaping in more detail:

“Cannabis vaporizer use can reduce the emission of carbon monoxide, chronic respiratory symptoms, and exposure to several toxins while producing similar subjective effects and blood THC concentration compared with smoking cannabis, holding potential for harm reduction among habitual cannabis smokers.”

We want to be clear that vaping isn’t completely risk-free. However, it is thought to be significantly less harmful overall than smoking.

Other benefits of vaping in comparison to smoking include:

  • Reduced odor and staining. Vapor doesn’t smell as strongly, last nearly as long, or carry its scent as far as smoke. Vape pens are a popular choice for people who don’t want to broadcast their enjoyment of cannabinoids. Vapor also doesn’t generally stain walls, skin, nails, or teeth.
  • All-in-one unit. As long as it’s charged, a disposable vape or vape cart screwed into a vape pen has everything you need to enjoy your cannabinoids. There’s no need to carry a lighter, matches, separate bag of flower, or other accessories.

There aren’t many downsides to vaping, but it’s only fair to mention a relatively common one. People who are used to smoking may feel like they aren’t getting enough of a draw from a vape. That’s especially true when those users try vaping for the first time.

Despite that feeling, the vape is usually working in these situations. Vapor is simply less robust than smoke. It won’t produce the same flavors or sensations in the lungs. Because vapes appear to reduce health risks as compared to smoking, that’s ultimately a good thing.

Finding High-quality Vapes, Pens, and Carts

Considering switching to vaping, or using vapes along with smoking cannabinoids? Delta 8 Resellers partners with exceptional industry brands to bring you the very best in cannabinoid vapes. That includes vape carts, disposable vapes, and vape pens and batteries.

Check out our selection of products!


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