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Vaping vs Smoking: Which is Safer?

When you learn more about the potential dangers of vaping, the vaping vs smoking debate isn’t as clear cut as people make out. This is our breakdown of the current research.
Vaping vs smoking CBD
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Which inhalation method is the best?

The great vaping vs smoking debate continues…

If you’re looking for the fastest-acting CBD delivery method available, one that will infer effects and symptom relief in as little as 10 to 15 seconds, then you’ll need to consume your CBD through inhalation. 

When vaping first exploded onto the scene, it was marketed as being a safe and healthy alternative to smoking, but more current research is forcing us to ask “is vaping safe, after all?”. In this article we’ll compare the potential risks and health benefits of vaping vs smoking, so you can decide for yourself which method is better for you.

Vaping vs smoking: Which is safer?

When people are looking into vaping vs smoking, most want to know, once and for all, which is worse for you. Is vaping better than smoking or vice versa?

The honest answer is that neither one is great for you, but the idea that smoking is a lot worse for you than vaping might actually be a bit outdated. Let’s take a quick look at some of the main risks involved in both methods before we make our minds up.

Risk from addiction

We all know that smoking cigarettes is highly addictive, but did you know that e-cigarettes and vapes also promote addiction to vaping? Current research shows that when people use e-cigarettes as nicotine replacement therapy, as a method of smoking cessation, what they’re actually doing is replacing one vice with another or, worse still, they end up using both. 

The last few years has seen a huge increase in the number of people vaping, especially young adults. Many of them never even smoked, probably because they’re made aware of the dangers of smoking and probably don’t realize just how addicting vaping is.

So, in some aspects, is vaping worse than cigarettes, due to its “healthier” reputation?

However, this risk of addiction is related to nicotine in particular. CBD, hemp, and cannabis, are all non-addictive substances.

Read about the pros & cons of vaping

Risk from harmful toxins

Cigarettes vs vapes may not be that different when it comes to inhaling harmful toxins either. Tobacco cigarettes are renowned for containing a whole wealth of harmful chemicals. Plus, when you burn any kind of plant matter, whether to be tobacco, wood, hemp, or cannabis, the combustion of the plant matter also creates tar and toxins, which is why the smoke produced by burning plant matter is harmful to your lungs.

Some people ask, “is vaping considered smoking?”, but the reason that vaping is considered to be very different from smoking is that vaping doesn’t involve the same combustion process that smoking does. This is also probably the number one reason why vaping is considered to be safer than smoking, because the vaporization occurs at a lower temperature and creates vapor instead of smoke.

However, although vapes don’t emit smoke, e-cigarettes still contain thousands of the same toxic chemicals as traditional tobacco cigarettes. These include freebase nicotine, nicotine salts, and many e-cigs produce vapor that contains a variety of harmful chemicals such as diacetyl, formaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, other toxicants, carcinogens and heavy metals.

One chemical that’s sometimes found in vapes (and has hit the headlines recently) is vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent that was being used in THC vaping products. The CDC has recently identified this chemical as one of concern after a number of lung injuries and deaths were associated with vaping.

Best-CBD-Cigarettes

Risk to heart and lungs

Another risk we know about from smoking tobacco is the damage it can do to our heart and lungs, but recent studies have found that e-cigarettes can cause heart and lung problems too.

For example, one study found that e-cigarettes users were 34% more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers. It also noted that e-cigarette users were 25% more likely to develop coronary artery disease and 55% more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.

Nicotine, whether you’re smoking or vaping it, can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, and constrict your blood vessels, leading to decreased blood supply and increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Other (non-nicotine) toxins can also be present in the vapor of e-cigarettes and vape pens that can damage the endothelium. The endothelium is a thin membrane that lines the blood vessels and when it’s damaged, you can be at a greater risk of heart attacks and developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). 

The first study into the long-term health effects of vaping was published in 2019 and showed that vaping also increases the risk of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease over time.

Vaping vs smoking: Without nicotine

So, as you can see, vaping doesn’t come without its risks either, but many of the risks that are carried by vaping and smoking seem to be attributed to the presence of nicotine. When we take the nicotine out of it, what potential health risks are we left with? Can vaping without nicotine for anxiety (for example) still be bad for you? And what are the risks for smoking hemp flower as opposed to tobacco?

See the best CBD cigarettes of 2022

Potential health risks of smoking CBD

The main concern associated with smoking CBD flower is the combustion of the plant matter when you light up your CBD joint or bong. 

Combustion creates tar and toxins

As mentioned previously, combusting any kind of plant matter creates tar and other toxins that can be harmful to your lungs when inhaled.

However, many people argue that the health benefits contained within the smokable hemp flower (for example, the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties) outweigh the damage that can be done, especially considering the fact that hemp is rarely smoked in the same quantities as tobacco.

And although there’s nothing we can do about the fact that inhaling smoke is bad for you, there is something you can be doing to make sure you have the safest experience possible, and that’s by making sure the hemp you’re smoking is clean.

Demand third-party lab testing

When choosing a CBD flower vendor, make sure that the hemp is grown organically, in the USA, and that they have third-party lab testing carried out on all of their strains. The lab reports should be able to verify that the flower has been tested for potency and purity, meaning that is has been tested for pesticides, heavy metals, microbials, and mycotoxins.

Potential health risks of vaping CBD

Vaping involves a heating process that releases vapors from liquid, concentrate, or flower, without burning or combustion. Because there’s no combustion, vaping is arguably a lot safer than smoking in this one aspect of the vaping vs smoking debate.

But the dangers of vaping really start when you consider the contents of the vape pen you’re inhaling, as well as the potential dangers of the vaping device itself.

Read about dabs, vapes and wax

Vape additives

The potential health risks of vaping CBD can change dramatically depending on the product you’re vaping, as not all vape liquids are created equally.

When we talk about harmful toxins that can be contained in vapes, we’re mainly talking about the additives, so it’s important to check your vape cartridges carefully to see what’s in them and research any ingredients you don’t know about.

Some CBD vapes are much safer than others due to the ingredients they contain and as with all CBD products, you need to make sure that the vendor provides you with a comprehensive third-party lab report that proves their product’s potency and purity.

Vaping device 

The vaping device you use may also affect the health risks you face when vaping. The majority of vaping devices rely on metal coils and solders in the reservoir to heat the solution and produce vapor.  According to new studies, some metal may be leaching into the liquid and vapor and entering the lungs of vape users.

Studies of samples from users have shown vaping exposes users to a large list of metals, including lead and arsenic. Metal exposure can damage lung tissue and increase the risk of cancer and other diseases.

The 8 best dry herb vaporizers of 2022

Demand third-party lab testing

Whether you’re vaping CBD oil, concentrates, or flower, always make sure you obtain a third-party lab report that verifies the potency and purity of the product in question. When buying CBD oils and concentrates, a comprehensive lab report will also verify that the product has been tested for (and passed) residual solvents, on top of pesticides, heavy metals, microbials, and mycotoxins.

Vaping vs smoking: Which is better?

When you learn more about the potential dangers of vaping, the vaping vs smoking debate isn’t as clear cut as people make out and it seems that neither one really stands out as being better or worse for you.

Many people enjoy smoking pure CBD flower as they know exactly what they’re getting, which is pure, unadulterated hemp heaven. But if you prefer to go the smokeless route, then there are also some great vaping devices on the market that can vaporize the cannabinoids in CBD flower for you. Vaping CBD flower can result in some really great tasty terp experiences too.

If you’re in the market for a vaping device, then check out our AirVape Legacy PRO review here (Best Dry Herb Vape – 2022 winner).

You have to be a little more careful when it comes to vaping oils and concentrates, as you need to do a bit more research about how they were made and what’s in them, but there are lots of reputable vendors out there. You just need to know how to find them (read more advice about buying CBD here).

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