A wick is a wick, right? It used to be easy in the old days - we all used silica wicks and they did their job. But if there is one thing you can expect from the vaping world, it's that someone somewhere is constantly experimenting with something new and crazy. But what are these weird wicks, do they really make a difference, and if so, which one is the best of the bunch?
Silica is shorthand for Amorphous Silica which is basically a bunch of twisted ropes made from Silicon Dioxide, and it comes as standard in most vaping devices. This material was first used in e-cigarettes when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and is probably the worst performer as far as flavour transfer goes. Use it only if you run out of everything else.
Pros: easy to work with, difficult to burn.
Cons: horrendous flavour transfer, slow wicking, unknown health effects.
You know them, you love them - they're the good old organic cotton balls, give them a round of applause, folks! They're the gold standard when it comes to wicking materials, and it's not difficult to see why: cotton is super easy to use, it fits any build and transfers flavour like a beast. You can pick it up virtually anywhere on Earth and it's incredibly cheap. Its only downside is its lack of heat resistance - beware of dreaded dry hit!
Pros: cheap, versatile, easy to find, easy to work with, quick wicking, good flavour transfer.
Cons: easy to burn.
Rayon is manufactured from regenerated cellulose fibers, which is a fancy way of saying that it's made out of wood pulp. There's a heated debate in the vaping community regarding its safety, as well as its quality. Some folks really love it for its super clean flavour transfer and price, others hate it. It wicks crazy fast but it doesn't hold as much juice as cotton. As a man-made material, it most probably isn't as safe as cotton.
Pros: cheap, crazy fast wicking, great flavour transfer, hard to burn.
Cons: doesn’t hold as much juice as cotton, unknown health effects.
This is pretty much the same as Rayon, but the fibers are made out of cotton instead. It has all the benefits of Rayon, but it holds as much juice as cotton, and is much more difficult to burn. It is hard to come up with any cons for Cellucotton. The main concern regarding its health effects seems to be that it's a relatively new wicking material and is usually bleached.
Pros: cheap, great wicking, great flavour transfer, hard to burn.
This is the wicking material of choice of the vast majority of hardcore vaping enthusiasts out there. Japanese cotton comes in the form of 2 inch square pads with all the fibers laying in the same direction, making it effortless to work with. One of its main benefits is its complete lack of chemical treatment or bleaching. It also is reasonably forgiving if you accidentally take one too many hits. It wicks extremelly well, right up there with Cellucotton, and maybe even better. Its main downside is that its relatively pricey compared to other wicks.
Pros: phenomenal wicking, great flavour transfer, easy to work with, less prone to burning.
Cons: somewhat expensive.
A lot of folks swear it's the best stuff out there. And by that, we mean as a wicking material. We took the plunge and ordered some (again, wicking material). Its main benefit is that it can soak up quite a bit of juice, but it has quite a few downsides. First, it's the most expensive wicking material out there. Second, it tastes like hemp. Third, it's notoriously stringy and hard to get into a suitable wick shape, and lastly, it simply doesn't wick very well.
Pros: hip, natural.
Cons: expensive, hempy taste, slow wicking, difficult to work with.
As with most things in life, it ultimately comes down to finding what works best for you personally. For us, the ultimate wicking material is the Japanese Cotton. If you want cheap and almost as good, grab a bunch of simple (preferably unbleached) cotton balls from your local pharmacy. It literally has no downsides. If dry hits are your main concern, go with Cellucotton. And if you're a hippie, go with Hemp. But you probably knew that already.
Andy and team.