Der Rauch means the smoke and it actually has an English relative that might help keeping it in mind: to reek. Which is definitely what your clothes do after a night at a smoker’s bar or at a camp fire.
Other relatives are the German words riechen (to smell) and its noun der Geruch.
And while we’re at it – German has two translations for to smoke (of course).
If the verb is about emitting smoke, it is rauchen.
- Thomas und der Ofen rauchen in der Küche.
- Thomas and the stove are smoking in the kitchen.
If you’re talking about “exposing to smoke“, or in other words, smoking ham or cheese, the word is räuchern.
- Ich räuchere den Lachs.
- I smoke the salmon.
Rauchen would sound VERY confusing here.
By the way… the word smoke also has a relative in German, the verb schmauchen. It describes a slow, smoky burning, but that’s pretty rare today, and you’ll likely only see it in a literary context for people smoking a pipe.