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How can I make a USB driven heating element? Answered

How can I make (if it is even possible) a heating element that runs off usb, and produces enough heat to burn a (tiny) piece of wood to the point of producing smoke?

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As steve says, half a watt isn't much power, but it can get hot if it's not heating much thermal mass.

By tiny piece of wood do you by chance mean herbal vapourizer?

The biggest load you can put on a USB circuit without asking for power is 5/0.1 or 50 Ohms. Wind yourself a 50 Ohm resistor out of thin nichrome wire and see what it will do.

Steve