A device to consume regular cigarettes without setting them on fire
For a long time, smokers had it easy. Buy a pack, crack it open and spark up. Super easy. Along came e-cigarettes and suddenly, things became more complicated. “e-juice”, “mod”, “atomizer” and host of other terms added to the confusion. Many did make the jump from combustible tobacco to vaping, and many still do. Yet there are vast swathes of smokers that would like another option.
Enter heat-not-burn. Popularised by PMI with the iQOS, it offered another option to smokers looking to make a change but wanted to keep certain aspects of their habit. Yet, there is still another option that hasn’t been fully explored.
You see, with iQOS you need specific consumable parts – the HEETS – to use the device. Many other heat-not-burn devices (some of which feature on these pages under Product Reviews) use the same consumables. Now, however, manufacturers are catching on to another consumable that is readily available – the humble cigarette. We reviewed one recently. We now have another one. Introducing the heated tobacco product from Himasu, the Himasu T5.
Unlike the Uwoo we recently reviewed, the Himasu T5 allows a cigarette to be used three times by adding a “low-temperature smoking agent” that produces vapour/smoke between 200-300 degrees C instead of smoke being produced at temperatures between 800-900 degrees C; the temperature traditional cigarettes burn at.
Although it isn’t clear from the Himasu website, or the product manual, it is likely that this “low-temperature smoking agent” is a mix of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. The very same stuff you’ll find in an e-liquid for vaping, or HEETS from PMI. What this mix does, as it does with vaping, is provide a little throat hit from the PG and a little vapour from the VG.
This is a common approach in heat-not-burn and vaping. Dose the cigarette with the agent, pop it in the device, heat it and then trim off the used bit.
While at first glance, there does appear to be a lot to this kit it is, in fact, pretty straight forward. Aside from the device itself, there is a “injector” – that also contains a cleaning brush cunningly hidden, a pack of “smoke agent”, a collection of tips (plastic and silicone) and the usual manual and charge cable (USB-C of course.)
Measuring 9.5cm tall and 4.5cm wide, the Himasu T5 isn’t particularly big. Nor is it unwieldy, weighing in at a mere 90g, it’ll sit nicely and unobtrusively in most pockets. Of course, the bulk of this 90g comes from the 1300mAh Lithium-ion polymer battery and the heating system. Such a middle-of-the-road battery doesn’t bode well for battery life which, according to the manufacturer, should be good for 10-12 uses before needing a charge.
The reason for the variance in usage is a nifty feature which allows the user to choose between two different heating modes (selectable by 5 clicks of the lone button.)
Unlike most other heat-not-burn devices, the Himasu T5 takes advantage of a sliding mechanism to bring the cigarette into the heating chamber rather than having the user slide it in themselves. Useful, particularly as cigarettes are more fragile than HEETS (I broke more than one during my Uwoo review.)
The slider also allows the tip, or nozzle, to remain attached and hidden away when the device isn’t in use.
I should mention the top cap and the bottom door. The top cap swivels into, and out of place to protect the heating chamber. The swivel motion is notched so it doesn’t take much effort to fully open or close as it will spring fully open or closed once it is opened (or closed) passed a certain point. It does, however, have some upward motion that feels fragile.
The bottom door, which contains a hole for the cigarette to be passed through, is somewhat redundant as it rarely needs to be opened (even though it is magnetized to remain closed).
So, we have a fairly simple device that heats regular cigarettes (only 18mm of one), how does it fare? Is adding the “smoke agent” a faff? Is cleaning easy? This is why I’ve been using this device for a pack of 20 traditional cigarettes, so I can tell you all about it.
Firstly, the injector and adding the “agent”. Yes, it is a minor inconvenience to insert a cigarette into the injector, press the button (and hold for a couple of seconds) and then load that cigarette into the device itself. But, it is a core part of the process that allows maximum use of a single cigarette. The downside to this is having to trim the use portion off after the 3 minute 30 second “smoking” session.
I did try both heat settings and, like the Uwoo, I didn’t really notice a difference in the taste or flavour of the cigarette. However, on the “higher” setting (the default), as expected did shorten the battery life to 9 uses. On the “lower” setting, the number of uses was 13 (unlucky for some.) However, charging time is pretty handy at ~45 minutes from near-flat to full which is nice. Charging most devices often takes far too long so it is nice to see a device that works reasonably well and lasts a decent length of time not taking a long time to charge.
Aside from the, somewhat inconvenient, faff with the injector the “smoking” experience is actually pretty good. As a comparison, I smoked one of the cigarettes (for science, natch), then consumed one (heated?, vaped?) in the Himasu T5 and there was little noticeable difference between the two in terms of taste. So, it looks like the aim of Himasu to provide a good experience is met – at least for me.
Once I opened the box and read the manual (shock), I had my doubts about this device and how good it would be. Despite the Himasu T5 only weighing 90g, it still felt sturdy enough to take a reasonable amount of day to day punishment (not that there was much of that being stuck at home all day thanks to the pandemic restrictions). Battery life, for a casual user like myself, is reasonable – for up to 13 (low setting) uses – though for heavier users it may prove to be problematic. Though it doesn’t take a long time to charge up from near-flat to full. It is still close to an hour charge-time, but it is better than most.
Cleaning is ridiculously easy. Or at least, cleaning the device is. Cleaning the injector, not so much. At least with the provided brush. One thing to note, remove the nozzle/tip after every three uses to clean the filter as the “smoke agent” tends to accumulate there after sequential uses.
As with other cigarette-based heat-not-burn devices, this device would probably be popular in places where cigarette prices are, relatively, low. In places such as Australia and the UK where prices are high the device may not prove to be cost effective. After all, part of the attraction of heat-not-burn and vaping is the simple fact that it is, quite often, cheaper than smoking (health risk/benefits aside).
If I had to choose between smoking or using this device to consume cigarettes, I would definitely choose the Himasu T5 as it allows the authentic taste of your chosen cigarette to be experienced which many smokers crave.
As a respectable website Heat Not Burn UK wishes to state that no scientific analysis has been done on the harms of heating regular cigarettes, compared to the wealth of analysis done on PMI HEETS.
They may be as harmful to ones health as regular cigarettes are, although this is very unlikely.