Aside from your liquid, the wick is the main potential source of contaminants in the vapor you inhale, so almost all wicks need to be prepared in some way before use. The common processes for this preparation may present issues of their own, too, so some precautions are necessary when you’re dealing with wicks.
- It’s prudent to always clean your wicks before use to prevent any contamination from the manufacturing process. Boiling is advised for cotton, stainless steel mesh and silica wicks, and stainless steel and silica can also be torched or dry burned.
- Silica can be dry-burned (or torched) briefly, but doing it extensively will cause it to burn. Never dry-burn or torch cotton.
- Oxidizing wicks (such as stainless steel mesh) helps to prevent shorts, and is accomplished by coating in e-liquid and then burning or by torching (as well as other options like the rolling paper trick), so use common sense regarding fire safety when oxidizing.
- There are many speculations and concerns about the potential risks of different wicking material, and although there is no solid evidence on these issues, it appears to be better to use Ekowool silica (or any other which is stated to be almost all amorphous silica) and not heat SS mesh to the point of glowing red if you’re concerned about things like silicosis and hexavalent chromium formation.
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