If you build your own vaping coils, there’s a good chance that you go through plenty of cotton. There’s an even better chance that you’ve never tried any other wick material. That’s unfortunate because there’s a wide world of other wick materials out there just begging for your experimentation – and we’re going to tell you about several of them in this post from Friske Drag.
Reading this article, you’re going to learn about the most common wick materials for RDA coil building. You’re also going to learn what the pros and cons of those materials are and find out which materials might work well for your vaping style. While you might experiment with some of those other materials and decide that the best wick material for you is still cotton, other materials such as rayon and ceramic have no shortage of dedicated users around the world. Who knows; if you take the time to try some of these materials, you might become a new convert yourself.
Cotton is the standard wick material that almost all vapers use in their RDA coil builds. Most people never even bother trying other wick materials because cotton excels in so many areas. Most cotton is very inexpensive to buy; even the specialty cotton brands packaged for the vaping industry are really quite affordable.
In terms of its ability to transport e-liquid to the coil, cotton is the second most efficient wick material. Although a few people can detect the taste of cotton when vaping, most people agree that a cotton wick produces a very clean flavor.
An additional benefit of cotton is that it requires no special handling – just trim it, thread it through the coil and wet it with e-liquid. For most people, cotton really is the best wick material for vaping – but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the other materials on this list.
When people talk about Rayon as a wick material for vaping, they’re generally talking about a rayon beauty product called CelluCotton. It comes in a convenient dispenser box, and it’s even the perfect width to use as a vaping wick; just trim and insert.
The primary benefit of rayon as a wick material is that it is extremely efficient. Nothing – not even cotton – can transport e-liquid to the coil more quickly than rayon. The efficiency of rayon means that you can puff more deeply and more frequently without worrying that the coil will dry out.
Although the efficiency of rayon makes it a huge draw for cloud chasers, it also has the downside of being a synthetic material rather than a natural one. Some vapers like the taste of rayon perfectly well, but others find that it tastes a bit like plastic.
If you’ve been vaping long enough, you probably remember a time in which all vaping tanks and clearomizers used silica wicks. Silica is an exceptionally durable material that, unlike cotton, doesn’t burn when it’s dry. It also produces an exceptionally pure flavor. Although you won’t find a modern vaping tank that uses silica wicks in its pre-built coils, silica rope remains available today as a wick material for RDA builders.
So, why is silica no longer common as a vape wick material? The major shortcoming of silica is that doesn’t transport e-liquid efficiently enough for serious sub-ohm cloud chasing. You can probably get away with using a silica wick for a coil in the 0.5-ohm resistance range, but silica can’t keep up with a really high-mass and low-resistance coil. You’ll have to wait a fairly significant amount of time for the wick to re-saturate after every puff.
If you prefer higher-resistance coils or simply hate the way that cotton discolors and breaks down with extended use, you’ll find much to like about silica wicks. Silica is so durable that you can actually dry burn a coil with a silica wick without worrying that you’ll damage the wick. If you use silica, you can conceivably go for months without rebuilding your coils – just perform a quick dry burn when it’s necessary for cleaning.
Braided ceramic rope has many of the same strengths and weaknesses as silica when used as a vaping wick. On one hand, some people feel that ceramic has an even purer flavor than silica. The drawback, though, is that ceramic is even less efficient than silica when it comes to transporting e-liquid. You can use a ceramic wick with a sub-ohm coil, but you’ll need to wait between puffs. Like silica, ceramic tolerates extreme heat and can be cleaned by dry burning.
Aside from the arguably purer flavor, the main reason why some people choose ceramic over silica wicks is because they’re nervous about the similarity between silica and fiberglass. Although there’s no evidence that using a silica wick leads to the inhalation of silica particles, it wouldn’t be good for the lungs if that did happen.
Stainless Steel Wick
Once one of the most popular wick materials among coil builders, stainless steel mesh is still in use by some today and is prized for its durability and excellent flavor characteristics. Steel mesh doesn’t just produce a great flavor; it’s probably the longest lasting of all vaping wick materials.
Building a coil with a steel mesh wick is a challenge since steel conducts electricity and could therefore cause a short. When using stainless steel as a wick material, the trick is to create a layer of oxidation or carbon by torching the steel repeatedly or by placing a sheet of rolling paper between the wick and coil and allowing the paper to burn away. Building a coil with a stainless steel wick takes a significant amount of time and patience. The payoff, though, is that you’ll have a coil that can give you trouble-free operation for months.
Although stainless steel excels in flavor and durability, its downside is that it isn’t as efficient a carrier of e-liquid as cotton or rayon. Most of the people who build coils with steel mesh wicks do so in coils built for mouth-to-lung inhaling.