How can I achieve this effect of a plume of vapor with the smoke sim or other tool?
- Change Blender units to Metric.
Create Circle (Shift + A > Mesh > Circle) with 2cm Radius and Fill Type > Ngon.
Press Space and type in "Quick Smoke". Select it.
Position domain as in the picture:
- Change Light Paths > Volume to 2. It will allow light go trough smoke thus it could be white.
- Change Resolution to 64. Higher resolution = more details.
- Behavior > Temp to 0.4. Smoke will rise higher.
- Behavior > Vorticity to 4. Smoke will have more 'wrinkles'.
- Check Smoke Adaptive Domain.
- Check Smoke High Resolution and change Noise Method > Strenght to 1.
Use this node setup:
You can control smoke density by changing Multiply value.
Final thoughts and .blend file:
You can play with Resolution and/or Smoke High Resolution Divisions to get more detailed smoke.
You should save your file and change Smoke Cache to OpenVDB > Float (half) it will speed up whole setup.
To play animation hit ALT + A or first Bake it under Smoke Cache.
Note that I'm using HDRI for lighting, it is packed in .blend file.