Today we’re looking at another hugely important element of the building process; how to wick a coil build!
A key component of your setup, the vape wick absorbs your e-liquid and keeps it evenly distributed across your coil.
But here’s the deal…
Not all coil wicking materials or wicking techniques are created equal. With differences in the saturation speed of your vape wick, to the vapor production and even flavor.
In fact, plenty of vapers actually view the process of coil wicking as more important than the coil itself!
Let’s take a quick look at the most common coil wicking questions we get before we cover how to wick a coil…
“What are vaping wicks made of”?
Back in the day, vaping wicks were generally made from a wicking material called Silica. Ideal for coil wicking, Silica is easy to work with and highly resistant to heat.
However, if you’re looking for the best wicking material you should look elsewhere! Silica produces poor or average flavour compared to the many other wicking materials you can use.
“What is the best coil wicking material”?
The best coil wicking material is essentially just the coil wick that works best FOR YOU. I know that sounds cheesy but this really is down to personal preference.
We detail many wicking materials in depth later in this guide, along with the benefits of each, so stay tuned!
But if we had to pick just one to get you started, it would have to be Cotton Bacon. Designed specifically for vaping, it’s free from impurities and provides outstanding flavour.
But the question we get asked the most?…
“What is the best coil wicking technique”?
Again this is really down to personal preference. Wicking coils for flavor and wicking coils for vapor are two very different beasts!
A quick Google or YouTube search will reveal dozens of different techniques, each claiming to be the best vape wicking method.
If you’re new to building and wicking coils, we’d recommend starting with our ‘how to wick a coil’ tutorial at the end of this guide!
FYI, this coil wicking tutorial is a follow up to the popular Coil Building Guide we posted recently. In that guide we spoke about the basics of coil building, a few of the many variations of coil types within the vaping community today and the wire and methods used.
Be sure to check it out if you haven’t done so already!
So what coil wicking materials can I use?…
The first and most obvious choice on this list; standard cotton is one of the best wicking materials you can use to wick a coil.
Yes you read that right, you really can use cotton balls for vaping!…
It absorbs e-liquid well, provides great flavour, is easy to work with and is the cheapest option by far.
You simply pull apart a cotton ball, roll it into a thin strand and thread it through your coil.
The only negative as far as we’re concerned, which is true of all cotton vape wicks, is the fact it’s easily burnt if not fully saturated.
Plenty of vapers recommend boiling the cotton (and allowing it to dry!) before using it to remove any impurities. However, we find this affects the longevity of your vape wick and therefore we don’t bother.
However, you must make sure you buy the sterile, unbleached variety if you’re going to wick a coil with cotton balls.
Extremely popular with manufacturers of early atomisers and pre-built replaceable coils, Silica wicks are strands of twisted rope made from Silicon Dioxide.
If you’re not yet building your own coils you’re likely to be using a silica wick in your atomiser right now.
Rarely used by Vaping Hardware due to the noticeable lack of flavour, Silica is also known to wick far slower than other materials.
However, it get’s better…
On the plus side it’s easy to work with and has a high melting point, which means there’s a far lower chance of combustion during dry burning.
And let’s face it; not catching fire is pretty handy…
You can either build your coil and thread the silica wick through it or actually wrap your coil around the silica wick itself.
Basically just braided Silica, Ekowool is slightly more expensive to buy but produces better flavor.
Ekowool holds more e-liquid than a standard Silica wick and can also withstand longer bursts of dry burning without combustion.
It’s essentially a tightly braided rope with a hollow centre, which allows for better absorption of your e-liquid and improved air flow.
It’s also possible to buy Ekowool with a cotton centre which improves the wicking ability.
Sold as a cosmetic product called Cellucotton; rayon is basically semi-synthetic fibres made from processed wood pulp.
Which sounds delicious doesn’t it?…
Joking aside, Rayon is actually incredibly efficient when it comes to wicking a coil and is known for producing a full, clean flavor.
It’s more absorbent than a cotton wick and slightly more resistant to dry burning.
The Cellucotton brand also produces a cotton based version. We found this easier to work with but actually slightly less absorbent.
Another wicking material extremely popular with the vaping community, Cellucotton rayon or cotton are both a great choice of vape wick and are highly recommended.
The first cotton specifically designed for vaping, Cotton Bacon is extremely popular as a coil wicking material.
Cotton Bacon is made from medical grade cotton and processed to remove any impurities. It provides great flavor, is more absorbent than standard cotton and comes in individual strips which make it extremely easy to use as a vape wick.
Overall, a fantastic choice for cotton wicking your RDA or RBA.
The only downside is the price (at the time of writing!) compared to some of the other wicking materials on this list.
Not a wicking material we’re particularly keen on, Stainless Steel is effectively a sheet of mesh rolled into a rope or ‘cable’ like vape wick.
Personally, I find Stainless Steel difficult to work with and hard to get ‘just right’.
It’s also more suited to vertical coils and genesis style atomisers. Therefore it’s not something we would recommend for beginners.
However, many vapers claim a Stainless Steel vape wick provides incredibly clean, immaculate flavor if set up correctly.
Want to know the best part?…
It’s also likely to last a lot longer than some of the other wicking materials on this list.
Just remember you must oxidise the mesh prior to use otherwise you run the risk of a short!
This wicking material has quite a following. I assume mainly due to the fact it’s a natural alternative without any chemicals, additives etc.
We’re all for the natural approach, however I found this difficult to work with (it’s stiff and stringy rather than fluffy!) and expensive as a vape wick for what it is.
I also found it had an obvious ‘earthy’ flavor to it. So much so it really altered the flavor of my e-liquid.
All in all, not a wicking material I would recommend.
Considered the ideal choice of vape wick for ‘flavor chasers’, these are basically ceramic fibres braided together.
They’ve become popular recently, replacing cotton wicking as the choice of vape wick in many pre-built atomiser coils.
Not only do ceramic wicks provide superior flavor, they’re resistant to high temperatures. I’ve also found they last longer than many of the wicking materials on this list.
However, ceramic vape wicks are more suited to genesis style atomisers and therefore not recommended for beginners.
This is another wicking material I would highly recommend. It’s far more durable than cotton wicking (and will therefore last longer!), provides great flavor and wicks efficiently.
It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to work with.
Just keep in mind, it’s advisable to boil before use to remove any impurities. You also need to be careful that the bamboo yarn you purchase doesn’t contain dye!
Japanese Organic Cotton (Koh Gen Doh)
Arguably one of the best wicking materials, Japanese Cotton is easy to work with and provides amazing flavor.
Reported to be free from chemicals or impurities. Japanese Cotton is also highly absorbent and holds a decent amount of e-liquid, which means fewer dry hits.If you can’t tell already, this is my personal favourite!
It’s more expensive than using cotton balls to wick your coil but in my humble opinion it’s worth the extra price considering the benefits.
It comes in square pads and wicking with Japanese Organic Cotton is as simple as cutting off a strip, rolling it between your fingers and feeding it through your coil.
A couple of things to keep in mind though; A) you’re likely to notice a very mild cotton taste during your first few hits and…
B) cotton will burn easily, so make sure the vape wick is always well saturated before firing.
Made from braided ceramic fibres, ReadyWick is pre-treated with extreme heat to remove any impurities or contaminates.
One of the more expensive wicking materials on this list, ReadyWick claims to provide amazing flavor and virtually non-existent dry hits, even at crazy-high wattage!
ReadyWick also claims to be reusable (by simply burning off any gunk) and would therefore last longer than other materials on this list.
Aside from one user claiming it was difficult to use, I couldn’t find a single negative review of this wicking material online!
However, un-treated XC-116 is hazardous to health and should not be used under any circumstances.
Having not yet been tested by the Vaping Hardware team, this is a coil wicking material we’d love to hear your thoughts on!
As you can see from the varied list of coil wicking materials, there really is no ‘right or wrong’ when it comes to wicking a coil.
In terms of the ‘best coil wicking material’ for me, I would have to say Japanese Cotton!
But we all have our personal favourites depending on our vaping style and budget. The only advice we can give is to experiment until you discover what works best for you!
But just remember, a poorly wicked coil can result in weak flavor, poor vapor production, leaking/spitting and a whole host of other issues!
So for those of you wanting to learn how to wick a coil, look no further! We’ve prepared a step-by-step coil wicking guide to get you started!
How to wick a coil…
Things you’ll need:
- Coil Wicking material – for this guide, we’ll be using Japanese Organic Cotton (told you it was my favourite!)
Assuming you read our Coil Building Guide, you will also have a freshly wrapped coil installed on the build deck of your atomiser.
How to wick a coil step #1
Ok, so first things first; take a square of your Japanese Organic Cotton and remove the outer layer.
How to wick a coil step #2
Next, using your scissors cut roughly half a centimetre off one side. As it’s a square, it doesn’t matter which side, as long as you’re left with a length of cotton wick approximately half a centimetre in width.
How to wick a coil step #3
Pinch and roll one end of the cotton strip between your fingers to gently compact the fibres.
How to wick a coil step #4
Slide the pinched end of your cotton strip through your coil, far enough that you can grab it with your fingers on the other side. You should have a small amount of friction but not so much that you have to fight to poke it through.
If the wick doesn’t fit, don’t despair! Simply remove it, gently unroll it and using your scissors, trim it down to size.
How to wick a coil step #5
When you’re able to comfortably thread your vape wick through the coil (just far enough to see the rolled /pinched end poking from the other end of your coil), take your tweezers and gently pull it through.
How to wick a coil step #6
Now your vape wick is in place, you need to trim the ends.
Using your scissors, trim each end of your wick until you have approximately 1.5cm of cotton at each end of your coil.
It’s important not to trim the ends too close to your coil because you want enough wick to efficiently absorb your e-liquid.
How to wick a coil step #7
Once you’ve got each end of your wick exactly how you want it, it’s time to saturate the wick. Take your e-liquid and give the coil and wick a good soaking.You’re only a few steps from firing that baby up and inhaling that sweet vapor!
How to wick a coil step #8
Now depending on whether you’re building on a RBA/RTA or RDA will alter how you approach this next step.
Basically, the RBA/RTA will have juice channels which supply e-liquid from your ‘tank’ to your coil. In this case, you’ll need to take your scissors or tweezers and, using the flat edge, tuck each end of your vape wick down and flat against the side of the build deck.
If you can imagine a rabbit with both floppy ears pressed against the side of its head, you’ve got the right idea.
You need to make sure the vape wick is not completely covering the juice channels otherwise the wick won’t properly saturate.If you’re building on your RDA, the simplest method is to tuck each end under the coil. This will hold the wick in place and soak up any e-liquid sitting in the well.
However, with your RDA you want to leave a small space beneath your coil for airflow. Fail to do this and you run the risk of suffocating the coil.
How to wick a coil step #9
Finally, the moment of truth…
Fire your mod before you put everything back together. If you’ve followed steps #1 to #8 correctly, the coil will heat and the wick will sizzle baby!
If you’re happy that everything works, put the rest of your atomiser back together and you’re good to go!
Wicking a coil is as simple at that!
However, this is just a basic wicking method to get you started. There are literally dozens of different wicking techniques out there for you to experiment with!
For those of you looking for more information, I highly recommend the legend that is Rip Trippers. Rip has a YouTube channel with a huge fan base, dedicated to all things vaping.
If you’re looking for a more advanced wicking method, his Pancake or Scottish Roll wicking tutorial videos are a great place to start!
Pancake Wicking Method…
The Pancake wicking method is ideal for higher VG based e-liquid, simultaneously reducing (even eliminating!) dry hits and producing superior flavour!
If you’ve read my post on PG Intolerance, you know I vape max VG e-juice and I can honestly say this is hands down the best coil wicking method I’ve tried.
To use this coil wicking technique, you need to follow steps #1 to #5 of our ‘how to wick a coil’ tutorial above.
But here is where we really mix things up and get those creative juices flowing (pun intended)…
When you trim each end of your cotton wick, you want to cut far closer to the coil than you would normally. Ideally, leave roughly 3 millimetres of cotton wicking protruding from each side of your coil.
Once you’ve got the wick in place and cut down to size you need to saturate it. The best way to soak your Pancake wick is to take the needle point of your e-liquid bottle and ‘fluff’ each end of your vape wick ‘backwards’.
Basically you want each end of your wick to sit almost flat against the sides of your coil like a Pancake.
A wet, cotton Pancake but you get the drift…
To finish off just screw the barrel back on to your build deck, making sure the vape wick isn’t touching the barrel or the juice channels!
And therein lies the magic…
Without the wick covering the juice channels, the higher VG e-liquid has a free pass to get straight to your wick and saturate like crazy!
If you give this a go, please drop us a comment below with your thoughts on this coil wicking method!
Scottish Roll Wicking Method…
I would highly recommend checking out RIP’s YouTube channel to get the lowdown on this wicking technique.
It’s not the easiest of wicking methods and will take some practice.
However, the bottom line is this…
Follow step 1 of our ‘how to wick a coil’ tutorial above. Now take your cotton sheet and gently (very gently!) stretch it or ‘flex’ it horizontally until it’s almost twice the size you started with.
The trick here is to get a nice even density across the cotton sheet until it’s almost ‘wispy’.
Now take your stretched cotton sheet and cut it vertically in half. If you’re wicking a dual coil you’re good to go.
If you’re wicking a single coil you can save the half you don’t use for a later coil wick.
Now take the half and gently roll it up, similar to how you’d roll a cigarette but keeping it fluffy and full of air. You’re aiming for a perfect, fluffy cylinder with plenty of airflow.
At this point you’re ready to feed the cotton wick through the diameter of your coil.
When you’ve got the wick in place, trim each end of the cotton and tuck it in place. Take a quick look back at step 8 of the ‘how to wick a coil’ tutorial above if you need a bit of help with this step.
Finally, saturate your wick and you’re set!
If everything went according to plan, tell us what you think of the Scottish Roll wicking technique in the comments below!
Something’s not right with my coil wick…
Despite your best efforts, sometimes you’ll experience issues with your new vaping wick.
If you’ve packed your wick too tight, it won’t saturate efficiently and you’ll get a dry hit!
But it get’s worse…
Pack it too loose, you flood the coil and your e-liquid will leak from the airflow holes of your atomiser!
The best advice I can give you here?…
When threading the wick through your coil, you want to be able to pull the wick back and forth through the coil without too much resistance. If it’s catching and pulling the wraps, it’s too tight and you need to trim it down. But, you don’t want the wick so loose it moves freely within the coil without any resistance at all!
It can take patience (and trial and error!) learning how to wick a coil, but once you do it’s well worth it!
How often should I change the cotton in my vape coil?…
Deciding when to re-wick your coil will depend on a number of things…
Personal preference, the coil wicking material you’re using and your style of vaping are all contributing factors.
Assuming you’re using cotton wicking material, a reduction in flavour and/or vapour production is the biggest sign that it’s time to replace the wick.
However, if in doubt, your best bet is to check your vape wick for any signs of charring or discolouration.
A cotton vape wick is likely to collect gunk or residue from your coil and will need to be replaced more often than some of the other wicking materials.It helps to keep your wick fully saturated at all times and avoid dry hits as these will burn up your wick and decrease the lifespan.
Many vapers also suggest changing your vape wick each time you use a new flavour of e-liquid…
Opinions are divided here at Vaping Hardware. There are those that religiously re-wick every time they run a new flavor through their atomiser and those (myself included) that only re-wick when really necessary.
As with the materials and coil wicking technique you settle on, this really boils down to personal preference. Ultimately only you can decide what works best for you!
Let’s take a final look at a few more common coil wicking questions…
“How much cotton should I use in my RDA”?
This really depends on the type of RDA and e-juice you’re using.
However if you’re using cotton for wicking, a general rule of thumb is often ‘less is better’!
Too much cotton is bad for a number of reasons…
Not only can it choke off your airflow, you run the risk of flooding or leaking and it may actually prevent your coil from wicking properly!
“How to wick a coil for better flavor”?…
Getting the best flavor from your e-juice is really just a balancing act. It boils down to the size and diameter of your coil, the position of the coil itself, the airflow and a proper coil wicking technique.
When you know how to wick a coil properly (preventing dry hits and getting enough e-juice to your coil!) you’re well on your way to improving flavor.
HOWEVER, the type of coil wicking material you use can make a big difference in terms of flavor!
There really is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, so experiment and see what wicking material works best for you!
So there you have it ladies and gents!
Hopefully by now you know how to wick a coil and you’re eager to experiment with different coil wicking materials and methods!
We hope you enjoyed this guide! Please feel free to leave a comment in the section below.
Happy coil wicking!