Ever since rebuildable atomisers became common in the world of vaping, people have debated which wicking material is the optimum choice. Now, there’s a huge variety of vaping specific wick brands to choose from, each using their own blend or type of cotton and other materials, such as rayon.
Today, we’re going to talk about our experiences, having tried several leading products. We would like to clear one thing up before we begin, though. Throughout our testing, we did not notice any perceivable difference in flavour potential between the leading wicking products, so we’re focusing on ease of use, absorbency and longevity in this post.
1. 1. Muji: Muji organic cotton has been at the fore front of vaping ever since cotton replaced silica as the wicking material of choice. The obvious reasons are price, availability and brand reliability. Muji is sold in significantly larger quantities than cotton brands which are made specifically with vaping in mind. As such, a standard bag, which lasts most people over a year, can be purchased for £6 or less, which is a steal.
Each pad is a uniform rectangle and in our years using this material, we have found it to be impressively consistent from one bag to the next. From an ease of use perspective, Muji does take a little longer to prepare. Ideally, you’ll want to remove the outer layer on either side of each pad, before cutting a suitable strip for the inner diameter of the coil in question.
Once wicked, we find Muji to have a very short break in time of just a few puffs, with good absorbency and the longevity you would expect from any standard cotton wick. Overall e-liquid retention can be significantly improved with the Scottish roll method, which requires a little extra prep but is well worth the hassle, especially for those who wish to drip less often.
Although it may not be the most convenient solution on the market, you simply cannot fault Muji cotton for its price and the way it performs.
2.Cotton Bacon Prime: Wick n’ Vape, who produce the Cotton Bacon brand, were the first company to refine cotton products specifically for the vaping market as far as we’re aware. Cotton Bacon Prime is the 3rd iteration of their proprietary blends and has been their main product for a while now.
Its claim to fame is the use of a strain of cotton that naturally produces thicker fibres and therefore increases absorbency. Although we are usually sceptical of the claims made in marketing materials for cotton, we do in fact find Cotton Bacon Prime to more readily absorb e-liquid than standard Muji pads. It also seems to have zero break in time, which is nice, though not a huge deal, since Muji has almost no break in time anyway.
The extra absorbency of Cotton Bacon Prime does make it a little more forgiving to newer builders when it comes to RTAs and RDTAs, since there is some lee way in terms of getting the perfect density and length of wick. I’ve always found longevity of this product to be right in line with standard organic cotton.
For me, it’s become the cotton of choice, though this is due to the form factor of the cotton, more than its absorption properties. I Like that you can just remove one large “strand” from the re-sealable pack, tear off enough for your coil and wick it up with no fuss or preparation.
The compact foil pack is a nice bonus that makes carrying this cotton when travelling more convenient than a massive bag of Muji, though this convenience is reflected in the price, since a 1-2 month supply of Cotton Bacon Prime costs about the same as a year’s supply of Muji.
3.Rayon: Rayon has been used in vaping as long as cotton but for a good while, it flew under the radar. It can be made from a wide number of natural materials, though the end product is essentially cellulose fibres that are quite similar to naturally occurring cotton fibres.
Aside from pure Rayon, which is not made specifically with vaping in mind, a growing number of vape brands are incorporating rayon into their cotton blends to exploit additional properties. Due to the proprietary nature of these blends, I cannot make a general assessment of each individual product, so here I am talking about pure Rayon.
Like Muji, it is generally sold in large quantities and I have been able to source what is likely a lifetime supply for about £15, though smaller packages are available. It has a slightly odd texture when felt in the hand and is more easily compressed than naturally occurring cotton.
Most of the brands who use Rayon in their cotton blends make claims about absorbency and heat resistance. I can confirm that these claims are correct, at the very least when using pure Rayon. It’s extremely absorbent, perhaps even more so than Cotton Bacon Prime. It also seems to resist heat more effectively and in practice, this makes it more forgiving when approaching a dry hit. It also makes this wicking material a good choice for those who like to use heavily sweetened e-liquids, since the sweetener seems to caramelise more slowly, which results in more time between re-wicks.
My only gripe with Rayon is that it appears to have a somewhat unpredictable nature in terms of how it behaves over time. Sometimes, the material seems to bulge at the edge of coils after a few days and other times, it works flawlessly, even with high levels of heat and sweetener, for a long time.
For this reason, it’s not my first choice for wicking, though if I was the kind of person who regularly vaped at high wattages, with heavily sweetened e-liquids, I think it would be my go-to. If that sounds like you, maybe Rayon, or a Rayon/cotton blend would be worth checking out. Notable brands include SWAG, which uses a ratio of 30/70 Rayon to cotton, approximately.
So there you have it, a brief overview of the most common types of wicking material on the market. Which one is best, though? Ultimately, like many things in vaping, this is mostly decided by personal preference. If you value affordability and don’t mind extra prep, Muji is the way to go. If you’d prefer less prep and need more absorption, I recommend Cotton Bacon Prime. If you regularly vape at extreme wattages, then a Rayon blend may be more suitable.