While there is plenty of discussion out there about how to build coils for your vaporizer, wicks often seem to be largely ignored. They many not be as complex as coils, but they play an important role in how well your vaporizer performs, so it is in your best interest to learn proper wicking technique.
This guide will take you to step by step through the process of wicking a coil to achieve the best possible vaping experience.
What You’ll Need
First, you’ll need your vaporizer with your RBA or RDA. Your coils need to be installed on the build deck before you attempt to wick them to avoid bending them out of shape. Next, you’ll need your wicking material and a pair of scissors to trim it down to size. You may also want a tiny screwdriver or a pair of tweezers to help you adjust the wick once you have it through the coil. Finally, you’ll need your e-liquid of choice.
Today there are half a dozen or so different wicking materials in use. Each one has its own pros and cons. Here’s a quick overview of your options for wicking:
Organic Cotton: Organic cotton is one of the least expensive wicking materials around, and it is easily accessible in a cotton ball or rope form. Just beware of buying cotton that’s been bleached or chemically treated because those chemicals could leach into your vapor. Some people suggest that you boil your cotton before you use it for wicks to ensure that the cotton is clean and safe. Boiling it for 15 minutes and then laying it out to dry usually is sufficient.
Silica: Silica wicks have grown in popularity and have become a go-to for manufacturers of pre-built atomizers. You can buy silica wicking material for yourself. The best part of these wicks is that they don’t overheat if you have an accidental dry hit so there’s a low risk of combustion.
Rayon Fiber: A synthetic cotton material, this is a great replacement for cotton because it mimics all of the best properties of organic cotton without the cotton flavor. It is very inexpensive as well and can be found almost everywhere.
Ekowool: Ekowool is more of an advanced wicking material that’s fun to experiment with. Unlike other wicks, ekowool is a tightly braided rope that is hollow in the center, which changes the way it absorbs liquid and allows air to flow.
Koh Gen Do: These Japanese cotton pads are a specialty item, but they can make your wicking much easier. They are also made with organic cotton, but they are guaranteed chemical-free and easy to use.
Installing Your Wick
For the purposes of this tutorial, we will use organic cotton as our example. Since cotton is one of the most popular wicks, and other wick types tend to mimic the look and feel of cotton, this is a good place to begin.
First, get your cotton ball and stretch it into a rope-like shape. Your cotton wick should be several inches long at this point. Roll it between your fingers to compact the fibers a little bit. Remember, you will need to thread your wick through your coils, so it needs to be able to fit. However, you don’t want it to be so small that it can easily slip out of the coils.
Once you get the hang of this it’s pretty easy, but for your first few wicks, try to thread the wick through the coil and see how it fits. If it tugs your coils and is pulling them out of shape, it’s too big. If it pulls through with space around the edges, it’s too small. The wick needs to be snug without damaging the shape of your coils in the process.
The best way to thread your wick is to tightly roll one end of your wick down to a point so that it can be threaded through like a needle. Your wick should be 2-3 inches long so you should have plenty of room to roll one end while leaving the center of your wick loose enough to fill the coil.
Once your wick is in place it is time to trim the ends and secure it. You don’t want to trim the ends off of your wick right at the ends of the coil. This would leave you with very little material for absorbing juice. Instead, you want to leave about a half-inch sticking out on either side of the coil. Use your scissors to cut the fibers down to size.
Now it is time to tuck the ends in. There are many different techniques for doing this, but the easiest way is to simply tuck the ends of the wick down under the coil. By wrapping the ends this way you are holding the wick in place and creating a way for the wick to pick up juice sitting in your well. This is where a tiny screwdriver or tweezers will come in handy because you don’t want to damage your coil while you’re trying to get the loose ends tucked in.
With the ends tucked in, try to create a small air tunnel beneath your coils as well – pushing the ends of the wick to either side under the coil can do this. If you don’t give yourself an air gap you may end up suffocating your vape or losing out on flavor. You need air to flow in and around your coils to get the best experience. If your wick is filling all that space, then the air will only pass over the top of your coil and won’t go around and through the coils to pick up the flavor.
Finally, now is the time to break out your e-liquid. Add a few drops to your wick and make sure that it is well saturated inside the coil and at the base. Once the liquid is soaked up, do a test-fire of your device to see if it starts creating vapor right away. If everything checks out you can put the rest of your RDA or RBA back together and begin vaping immediately.
Remember, once you move to a multi-coil configuration you will need to repeat this process for each coil in your build.
There are certainly other techniques out there to help you with wicking. If you choose to purchase wicks such as ekowool or stainless steel that come in a rigid mesh form, you may want to wrap your coil around the mesh when you are building instead of building the coil separately. This eliminates one step and makes it very easy to get your wick perfect every time.
If you opt for Japanese cotton sheets, there are also a variety of ways that you can roll the cotton to form a perfect cylinder. You must first remove the outer layer of the cotton sheet; it is tightly knit and won’t let liquid or air pass through until you rough it up a little bit. However, the fibers stay pretty loose and you can simply take a 2-inch long and half-inch wide piece and roll it to form a cylinder that can be inserted directly into your coil. This gives you the performance advantage that you would enjoy with ekowool or stainless steel thanks to the airflow they provide.
Now that you’ve got the hang of wicking your own vape, it’s time to talk about maintenance. Each of the above wicking materials has its own lifespan, but you need to be paying attention to your wicks so you’ll know when their time is up. You’ll quickly learn that cotton can become very grimy and foul-tasting if you leave it in your vape for too long.
Failing to change wicks can also leave a nasty residue on your coils that require cleaning or replacing. The best practice is to check your wicks often and notice when they start to become discolored.
You will also start to taste the burnt flavor of old liquid residue along the way, indicating that it’s time for a new wick. Fortunately, re-wicking your vape should become second nature and you will be able to complete the process in just minutes.