If you’ve been a smoker for any amount of time, you’re probably familiar with the way cigarette smoke can begin to discolor things in your surroundings. For those who smoke inside their homes, this is often most apparent in the color of the walls as they take on a yellowish tinge. It is a gradual buildup, but can be easily discerned with the swipe of a paintbrush full of fresh white paint.
Vaping, on the other hand, is a different story. People who are new to vaping are often amazed by the large plumes of vapor that emanate from the vape devices, and there is concern that these clouds of sweet-smelling vapor could be just as harsh on your walls and the rest of your household.
The good news is that the effects of vapor and cigarette smoke are very different in a closed environment.
What Causes Staining?
The first thing we need to look at to understand the differences between smoking and vaping are the chemicals involved. Most often we refer to cigarette staining as “nicotine stains.” This is because the nicotine has the power to stain everything from our teeth and fingernails to our walls and curtains.
However, nicotine is definitely not the only staining agent in action here. When it comes to cigarette smoke, there are hundreds of chemicals involved that all have their own staining power.
Cigarette smoke lingers in the air for a prolonged period of time as all of these different chemicals work their way outward. When they finally land upon a wall, you are seeing not just a nicotine stain, but also stains caused by a variety of other chemical compounds.
Most importantly, when they all settle onto a wall and cling to it, they form a thick scum that is very difficult to remove. In many cases washing the walls is not sufficient to remove these stains unless you do it every few days, which would require extreme diligence and dedication on the part of the smoker.
Typically the only way to deal with this staining is to completely re-paint.
In addition, the stains caused by all of these chemicals retain many of their harmful qualities long after they’ve stuck to a wall. They continue to cause poor air quality and breathing problems for many.
What Makes Vaping Inside Different?
Now that we understand how stains are caused, it’s important to look at the contents of vapor. Yes, your vapor likely has some nicotine in the mix. However, thanks to the way the nicotine is vaporized instead of combusted, it does not give off the same amount of residue.
More of the nicotine is absorbed than is let off. On top of that, the amount of nicotine present in a vape is already significantly smaller than that in a cigarette to begin with.
The next important point is that the nicotine put off by your personal vaporizer does not come with a whole host of other chemical buddies. If you’ve read any of the previous studies on the harmfulness of second-hand vapor you know that vapor is essentially equivalent to the ambient air of the room, albeit fruity scented.
This makes a huge difference in the time it takes for stains to build up, and the type of stains that are formed, although it is not to say that vaping won’t ever stain your walls.
Does Vaping Damage Walls?
We’ve come to the main question: Does vaping stain walls? The simple answer is that it can stain walls – eventually – but even if it does contain staining agents, it will not cause the same type of damage that cigarette smoking does. By allowing a small fraction of the nicotine to escape into the air, it will take significantly longer for stains to appear.
The one major difference is that the vapor in the air tends to pick up dust and dirt more readily than cigarette smoke does. If your room is constantly full of vapor, it is possible that some of the dust from the room ends up making its way to your walls on the back of the vapor molecules.
But even here there is a key difference: Dust and dirt can be easily wiped away with a sponge, and you shouldn’t have to do it every third day. Furthermore, without all of the tar and other chemicals, the air quality of the room will not be drastically harmed either.
All in all, it is possible that vaping could stain walls over a prolonged period of time of really intense vaping. However, simple changes, such as vaping a zero-nicotine e-liquid, would completely eliminate the staining qualities of the vapor itself.
The reality is that most vapors will not see any appreciable buildup of staining from the nicotine in their vapes, and certainly nothing on the scale of the stains that smoking leaves behind.