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Test Drive — IQOS

The so-called “tobacco heating systems” are relatively recent. Tobacco companies that own the technology are now actively promoting this product. And today we have a rather unusual tasting — we will test IQOS. It’s important to note that this is an independent test, I don’t smoke IQOS and tested it just for the sake of experimenting.

So, it looks pretty nice on the outside. The plastic case has a battery for recharging the device, a cradle for automatic connection and the device itself. That is, while the device is in the case, it is recharged. It’s pretty convenient. The case itself is neatly made, all parts fit snugly, the outer surface is covered with a layer of rubberized material, pleasant to the touch, but quickly smeared with fingerprints.

A button hidden in the case opens the lid and gives access to the device itself. The “system” looks like a fountain pen the size of a lighter. Neat, I would even say an elegant device. The large button in the center of the case is the cartridge activation button, it is pressed once before starting smoking, when the cartridge is already inserted into the system.

Unlike the same vapes, the “system” will give you a rather limited choice, enclosed in a meager assortment of cartridges, or, as they are called, “sticks”. Moreover, the sticks must be suitable for a specific device. So Heets sticks are designed for IQOS. There are also similar RELX and JUUL systems, they have their own devices and their own sticks, and they are not interchangeable for other systems.

Sticks are sold in small boxes of twenty. The selection, even if you don’t compare it to the selection of ‘e-liquids’ for vapes, is very poor — I haven’t seen more than six varieties in one shop yet. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention though)) The sticks themselves look like a cut cigarette with a filter, let’s see what’s inside them below.

In this review we are testing two different types of sticks — Amber Label which is considered the strongest and Yellow Label with a medium strength. Heets also offers flavoured cartridges such as Bronze Label (Cocoa + Dried Fruit), Green Zing (Menthol and Citrus), Purple Label (Berry), etc. The strength of the sticks is not marked on the box, but each one is labeled “from Parliament” meaning the smoke will taste like the Parliament variety.

To smoke the device, you insert the stick and press a single button. When the stick is inserted, it is slipped onto the ceramic stinger and the mixture in it is heated up. The process is then similar to smoking regular cigarettes. It is, but it has its own specifics.

In the meantime, let’s have a look at what’s inside the stick. This is what it looks like when you take it apart. The “tobacco blend” of a stick is nothing more than an “accordion” of surrogate leaf!

Surrogate leaf in cigarettes is no surprise to anyone these days, but while it is usually added (only added!) to reduce the ‘strength’ and cost of the product, in sticks it is the base! What about the ‘strength’ of the sticks then!!! If the surrogate contains practically no nicotine? I heard that the Pogarsky factory technologists performed a serious test on E-sticks and the results showed that they contain twice as much nicotine as regular cigarettes! However, the sticks are considered “safer” because the contents are heated to no more than 350 degrees, that is, the mixture does not burn. Admittedly, this conclusion is not drawn by the factory, but by advertisers and sellers of ‘systems’. Again, I strongly suspect that chemical nicotine is used in the sticks. This raises some concerns, but more on that later.

A large part of the filter is taken up by a dense “accordion” of fine polystyrene, called “biopolymer mass” by the manufacturer. The purpose of this part is quite clear — it gives overall stiffness to the stick’s construction. Moreover, after smoking it sintered, partially melting, so it can’t be used again. A stick is not a cigarette, you can’t butt it out))

The filter itself, an acetate filter, is quite short and consists of a pair of fibre ‘drums’ — a solid one and a mouthpiece. The paper sleeve with the surrogate is coated with foil on the inside to reduce heat loss when smoking — a kind of screen.

So, the tasting itself. The first thing that catches your eye is that there is very little smoke from the sticks, much less than from cigarettes. The second is the taste… It tastes nothing like tobacco smoke or cigarettes. I don’t know what to compare it to… a “paper” bitterness, some kind of chemical tartness and a bitter taste. Very unpleasant taste! And especially not to compare the taste to Parliament smoke, even the modern one!

The filter gets so hot when you smoke it that it burns your lips when you puff!

Another feature is the system itself, which counts your puffs. Three minutes after activating the stick, the cigarette in my hand began to vibrate.) It turned out that this is a signal of two puffs left. Funny, but somehow predetermined. Separately, I will say about the “strength”. There’s no throat hit when smoking, but the satiety of the smoke is still there, about as from a strong cigarette. This suggests the use of a newfangled “salt” nicotine.

I won’t write much about the chemicals, just for the sake of explanation. So, salt nicotine is a synthetic substance balanced in acidity (pH) with the human body. That is, the “salt” is not perceived by the body as a foreign substance. The first sign that you are using exactly synthesized nicotine in sticks is high strength (fullness of smoke) and the absence of throat hit. The danger, however, is that while smoking regular nicotine takes longer to become addictive because it is more volatile, slower to absorb and a little faster to leave the body, with ‘salt’ it’s exactly the opposite!

Another danger of ‘salt’ is that it is addictive! That is, after smoking sticks for a long time, regular cigarettes, and any other form of smoking in general, won’t satisfy you as the body will “demand” a pure product! So those are the fears.

In addition to the tasting itself, there’s also quite an unpleasant smell after smoking. Even the experienced smokers notice its unpleasantness. And the smell is quite persistent — even after an hour you can tell for sure that someone smoked.

Original Source: Medium