Updated: February 2023
A friend of mine has spent much of the lockdown at home with his parents.
He’s an ex-smoker, now avaper. His parents are not massive fans of vaping - although they’re pleased he’s vaping instead of smoking - so he leaves the house to vape.
He combines his vape with a walk, and has found a pleasant place under a shady tree to enjoy his vape.
Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates that. A runner who goes past the same spot where my friend vapes hates the habit. It’s got to the state where my friend receives a daily torrent of rage and abuse for using the device which is keeping him off smoking.
We can’t control how people react to vaping. And sometimes it can be tiring to have to explain the benefits of vaping - again and again and again. Fortunately, there is a way to vape discreetly. Welcome to stealth vaping.
- What is stealth vaping?
- What is zero vaping?
- When is stealth vaping acceptable?
- The dangers of stealth vaping
- What about countries where vaping is illegal?
- How do you stealth vape?
- Wrapping up
Stealth vaping means discreet vaping. When you stealth vape, you use your vape in a way that people will not notice unless they pay close attention.
This involves using smaller, lower-powered devices which can be held in the palm of your hand, and vaping with high PG e-liquid. It also means using vaping techniques which minimise the amount of vapour you exhale.
Since we first wrote this post, the term zero vaping has crept into vaping parlance.
Zero vaping is a subset of stealth vaping. While stealth vaping means to vape discreetly, zero vaping means to vape without exhaling any vapour.
While it’s relatively easy to adjust your technique, device and equipment for stealth vaping, blowing out only a thin wisp of vapour, zero vaping is more difficult and will need some practice. The techniques are the same, but need more refinement.
Most vapers turn to vaping because they are addicted to nicotine, and want to stop smoking cigarettes.
However, as we saw with my friend, some people take offence at people vaping, even when you are outside.
There’s a proportion of the general public who have been misinformed, believing that second-hand vapour could harm them in some way, even though studies like this have shown the risk from second-hand vapour is next to none.
At the same time, if you’ve recently switched to vaping, relapsing to smoking is always a danger. So ideally you want to avoid going to a smoking shelter where you could be met with temptation.
Perhaps that’s why, when we conducted a survey on vape etiquette, 67% of vapers thought stealth vaping was sometimes acceptable.
There’s two key areas where stealth vaping can cause problems.
The first is vaping in a place where it is forbidden. Sometimes this can have serious consequences.
I’ve heard of several people who have vaped on Qatar Airways who have been arrested and spent several nights in jail in the Middle East. Stealth vaping, especially when it is done wrong, can also cause alarm. In one example, a bus was stopped on a UK motorway by armed police after a passenger reported smoke coming from another passenger. In fact, it was simply vapour.
In the UK, we can legally vape in most places (and we can often vape where we can‘t smoke), but there are local restrictions to contend with. This means vaping is restricted in:
- Trains and train stations
- Some businesses and pubs
- Theatres and cinemas
- Some hospitals
The second is the reputational risk carried from vaping. Like it or not, vaping has a stigma attached for some people, who find it hard to distinguish from smoking. Get caught vaping in a place where it is forbidden - and you risk cementing the bad reputation in people’s minds.
With these dangers in mind, remember to use your stealth vaping powers responsibly!
When we first wrote this post, we talked about the potential for vaping to become illegal.
As we mentioned, many vapers would not give up vaping, even if it was illegal.
In fact, two-thirds of European vapers said they would buy e-liquid on the black market if it is banned by the EU.
Sadly, vaping has become illegal in countries like India and Thailand, with consequences including fines and even jail time.
This provides an ethical quandary. People in these countries have a choice between acting to save their health and lives by using a product that the UK government says is at least 95% safer than smoking - or breaking the law. Those who do choose to vape will need to become expert stealth vapers.
Also see: Worst places in the world to vape
Sub-ohm devices are great for massive clouds of vapour – not so good for stealth vaping!
Fortunately, stealth vaping is simple. All you need is the right equipment, the right e-liquid, and the right technique.
The ideal stealth vaping device has several qualities.
1. It is small, which means it won’t attract as much attention. Ideally, it will fit easily into the palm of your hand.
2. It can be used at low wattages and is compatible with a high-resistance coil. This means the amount of vapour will be minimised.
3. It does not have an LED light, such as those found at the end of a cigalike, which lights up when you puff. (Though you can often simply put your finger over these!)
Some older devices also have stealth mode. This usually means that data displayed on the device display screen is turned off, which can help in low light situations. Unfortunately, this mode seems to have fallen out of fashion.
Here’s a few ideas to try:
Aspire Vilter: Discreet vapour
The Aspire Vilter is an intriguing device which can use a cigarette-like filter to replicate the experience of smoking. For stealth vaping, though, you’re going to want to remove the cigarette-like filter and replace it with the standard mouthpiece. The device is slightly longer than the Smok Thiner below, but it produces a very thin (but still satisfying) stream of vapour.
Innokin Klypse: A vape that doesn’t look like a vape
At first glance, you wouldn’t look at the Innokin Klypse and think it was a vape device. Slim and compact with an unusual rectangular shape, its resemblance to a non-vaping gadget (especially in darker colour options) makes the Klypse a good option for stealth vaping.
While the 0.8Ω fixed-coil pods it uses are not super high resistance, you’re in no danger of blocking the sun with your vapour clouds. Combine this device with stealth vaping techniques and it can deliver a thin stream of vapour that is barely noticeable.
Most e-liquids contain a mixture of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine. Both can be used to vape, but both have different properties.
For more vapour, you generally use an e-liquid with a VG:PG ratio of 70:30 or higher. When you are stealth vaping you are better with a higher PG ratio. These produce less vapour. The higher PG ratio will also provide more throat hit.
If you are using less power, you will be inhaling less vapour. So to assuage nicotine cravings, you may need to increase the nicotine strength of the e-liquid you are using.
You do need to balance this when using some of the techniques below, as you may be holding the vapour in for longer periods of time, which gives your body more time to absorb the nicotine.
In many cases, simply quietly vaping without being too obvious about it can be effective. Put too much effort into stealth, and you can end up drawing attention to yourself. That said, these techniques can help. Refine these techniques, and you may be able to achieve zero vaping.
Hopefully by now you have a device which is little bigger than your palm of your hand. When you hold your vape in your hand, ensure that it is encased in the palm of your hand, so the device extrudes as little as possible.
If there are LED lights or display, ensure these are covered and that the display is pointing face in towards your hand.
The second inhale
You’ll generally see advice to inhale deeply and hold in the vapour before blowing out.
However, for best results, you want to inhale without taking in too much vapour. Remove the vape from your mouth and then inhale air. Then hold the vapour in for around 10-15 seconds before breathing out.
The swallow technique
The second technique is to inhale, then swallow the vapour (twice if you can). Inhale air again if you can, then exhale.
Exhaling when stealth vaping
Do think about how you exhale too. Purse your lips to make a tiny hole, or place your top lip over your bottom lip, and inhale downwards to minimise the appearance of any vapour.
OnVaping also have some good tips, including putting a fist in front of your mouth when exhaling, nicely illustrated with gifs.
It’s worth repeating - people have lost their jobs, or even spent nights in jail, for vaping where they shouldn’t.
These techniques are ideal for places where you are allowed to vape, but do not wish to draw attention to yourself. Use responsibly!
Do you stealth vape? Do you think stealth vaping is acceptable? Do you have any tips we haven’t mentioned in this post?
Let me know in the comments.