Heat Not Burn Explained

by Jemma Wolfe

Heat Not Burn Explained

Heated tobacco products, also known as “heat-not-burn” products, are among the newest forms of smoking cessation aids. First popularised in Japan, where e-cigarettes containing nicotine are illegal, this form of obtaining nicotine is slowly creeping into UK markets. First hitting our shelves back in 2014, with brands such as IQOS and Ploom at the forefront of the scene, we got to thinking—are heated tobacco products a good alternative to traditional cigarettes?

In this blog, we’ll take a deep dive into heat-not-burn technology, how it works, as well as what kind of heated tobacco products are available. We’ll explore the safety aspects and answer frequently asked questions surrounding these products to help you determine if they’re suitable for you on your quit smoking journey.

What is Heat Not Burn?

Heat not Burn products are a type of electronic device that contain real tobacco leaves. As the name suggests, these products simply heat the tobacco leaf, as opposed to burning it, producing a nicotine-rich vapour that the user can inhale to get their nicotine fix.

Unlike e-cigarettes, which vaporise nicotine-containing liquid, a heat-not-burn device heats and vaporises real tobacco, so they're classed as tobacco products. However, unlike regular cigarettes, no combustion takes place as the tobacco is heated at a specific temperature to prevent any burning.

As a result, these products don’t produce smoke like traditional cigarettes, and you won’t have to worry about a strong smell lingering on your hands, hair, clothes, or furniture. What’s more, the vapour produced doesn’t pose a risk to bystanders, so you’re free to use these products just about anywhere you can use an e-cigarette. 

How does Heat Not Burn work?

Heated tobacco products are extremely easy to use and require no additional equipment such as lighters, ashtrays, or e-liquids. Most brands, including the market leaders Ploom and IQOS, require you to purchase specially designed tobacco sticks that slot into the electronic heating device. These tobacco sticks are essentially mini cigarettes, which look almost identical to the real thing, albeit a little smaller.

Inside each stick sits multiple layers of compressed ground tobacco leaf and contains about the same amount of nicotine as one regular cigarette. Once inserted into the device, your tobacco will begin to heat up at the push of a button. Traditional cigarettes combust and burn at up to 900°C, whereas heat-not-burn devices heat the tobacco to a consistent 350°C, which is hot enough to release nicotine vapour but not hot enough to set the tobacco alight.

Heat-not-burn is a unique approach that allows individuals to have an experience that looks and feels just like smoking a standard cigarette without consuming combusted tobacco. This breakthrough technology simply heats tobacco without burning it, resulting in a real tobacco flavour with no smoke, ash, or unpleasant odour.

Is Heat Not Burn safe?

While there is no such thing as a safe tobacco product, choosing heated tobacco products over traditional combustible cigarettes is certainly the safer option. As the tobacco isn’t burned, heat-not-burn products don’t pose the same risks to users as regular cigarettes. It’s been found that heated tobacco devices release fewer toxic chemicals at lower concentrations thanks to the lack of combustion.

One of the key aspects that sets heat-not-burn products apart from regular cigarettes is the lack of tar. Tar is the harmful residue that’s left in your lungs after inhaling cigarette smoke. As heated tobacco products only produce an aerosol residue due to the lack of burning taking place, there’s no risk of harmful tar buildup in your lungs.

When compared to normal cigarettes, heat not burn products have much lower levels of hazardous carcinogens such as aldehydes and other volatile compounds. However, since most of this research was funded by cigarette companies, it's best to proceed with caution when interpreting the findings. Nevertheless, if someone chooses to use these products as an alternative to smoking regular cigarettes, while they’re still not considered as safe as vaping, there still may be some benefit. 

Is Heat Not Burn right for me?

Heat-not-burn technology is just one of many smoking cessation aids out there, and it’s going to be more suitable for certain users than others. If you’re looking for a tool to help you quit smoking for good, we’d always recommend trying vaping as a great first step. However, we know that not everyone can get to grips with an e-cigarette right away.

If you’re someone who has already given vaping a try but to no avail, it may be worth looking into heated tobacco products as a safer alternative to smoking regular cigarettes. They’re easy to use and manage to closely replicate the look and feel of real smoking, so they could be a useful stepping stone to help you stub out the cigs for good.

Quit Smoking at myCigara

At myCigara, we exist to make the UK smoke-free. That’s why we offer a range of safe, reliable, and effective alternatives, to help you take back control and quit smoking.

If you're just starting out on your quit smoking journey, read our blog: quit smoking for a healthier lifestyle to learn more about how smoking impacts our lives. Also, take a look at our comprehensive Stop Smoking Timeline for additional information on the advantages of quitting.

To get a better understanding of the range of smoking cessation aids out there, check out our New To Vaping blog and find out if an e-cigarette could be the right tool to help you along your quit smoking journey.

We take pride in ensuring that all of our customers have a great experience when looking for the best smoking cessation aid for them, so please don't hesitate to contact us with any queries. Alternatively, visit your local myCigara store, where our helpful and experienced staff will gladly assist you.