Cotton Wick Wiki

This Wiki is for the use of cotton (and bamboo yarn) as a wick for electronic cigarette (also known as Personal Vaporizers) atomizers. I don't know who first came up with using these materials as wicks; but, I first came across this information in a thread on the E-Cigarette-Forum. A member there, EvilGrym, proposed using cotton or bamboo yarn to replace the commonly used silica as wicking material.
Currently (Aug 2012), to the best of my knowledge, there are no commercial atomizers, cartomizers or tank systems using cotton/bamboo wicks. Cotton/bamboo wicks are end-user made and installed.
All cotton materials, no matter what form they come in, should be 100% natural (undyed) cotton (or bamboo) to be used as wicks. Some materials (such as Gauze, Wicks, etc.) may contain other materials - synthetic fibers, metals, medicinal products, etc. - which aren't suitable for using as a wick in an electronic cigarette atomizer.

Boiling Cotton

Processed cotton often contains sizing, added to strengthen and protect the fibers during processing. Boiling in water of processed cotton products (candle wick, yarn, etc) seems to remove these products. Place the product in a pan of water and bring to a rolling boil, maintain the rolling boil for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. When finished boiling, place the pan (with the string still in it) in the sink and run water into the pan so that the water overflows the sides. This will flush the sizing, which floats on top of the water, from the pan and prevent the string from coming into contact with the sizing if it is pulled from the water with the sizing still present. This process can be repeated if needed to remove additional sizing.


Rolled Cotton/Cotton Batton/Cotton Balls

Rolled cotton (cotton batton/cotton batten) is readily available at local pharmacies and/or department stores.

To form a wick from this material:

Pull a portion of the material off of the main body around the length that you will need. Keep the fibers joined together - too long is fine, too short is not. Roll the cotton between your fingers to compress it into a rope-like form. Typical wicks are around 2-mm in diameter. Wetting your fingers with some water may help in forming the wick.

Rolled Cotton at CVS Rolled cotton at CVS Pharmacy

Rolled Cotton at Sears Rolled Cotton at Sears


Cheesecloth is a processed cotton product. Some have boiled cheesecloth before use; others have used it with no problems without boiling.
Cheesecloth comes in various grades. Currently not much experimentation has been done with the different grades of cheesecloth. Some have pulled the individual threads from the cheesecloth to use as a wicking material.

GradeVertical horizontal
threads per inch
#1020 12
#4024 20
#5028 24
#6032 28
#9044 36

Cheesecloth seems to be typically used by cutting a square or rectangle of one or more layers and rolling it up. Here is a method for reducing the frayed string ends from sticking out after rolling the cheesecloth into a wick:

I was able to stop the tiny strands sticking out everywhere by taking a single layer of cheesecloth, folding it over once, then cutting the square size I need and rolling the wick up into the edge where the fold is. This creates a wick without the strands and small pieces don't fall out or get burned by the coil when vaping.
- L7D4N from ECF

Pictures courtesy of Quigsworth from ECF:

GG Penelope with a Cheese Cloth Wick (YouTube)

Cotton Gauze

Cotton gauze can be found in the first aid section of many stores. Care must be taken when purchasing gauze for use as a wick material. Many first aid gauzes are not 100% cotton - many have artificial fibers in them also. A lot of first aid gauzes have anti-microbial or anti-bacterial compounds on them; these too, are not suitable for use as a wicking material.
A 100% cotton gauze without any additives can be used just like cheesecloth for a wick material.

Cotton Candle Wick/Cotton String

With candle wicks you need to be sure that it contains no lead or primer. Usually the primer in a candle wick is wax. This along with lead can be used to make a stiffer wick - which is good for making candles, not so good for making wicks for your atomizer. 1/0 and 2/0 are good sizes to start with.
Cotton Butcher's Twine (or other 100% cotton strings) can also be used as a wick material.
These items require little in the way of preparing them for use as a wick. It's highly recommended to boil these items before use; but then they are ready to go. Just cut to your desired length.

text Cotton candle wick from Amazon

text Cotton Butcher's Twine from Amazon

Cotton Yarn

The Lily Sugar'n Cream and the Peaches and Cream 100% cotton yarns seem to be popular in this category. Be sure to only use white yarn. Boiling is recommended.


Michael's craft store,default,pd.html?start=1&cgid=products-yarnandneedlecrafts-yarn-lilysugarncream

Bamboo Yarn (thread)

Bamboo seems to be popular with those who have tried it. The most commonly seen product is bamboo crochet thread. The crochet thread is thin; anywhere from 6 to 12 pieces have been used to make one wick. Be sure to use only white yarn/thread. Boiling is recommended.
It supposedly can be purchased at Michael's craft stores also.|8929|bamboo%20yarn||S|p|16350311053&gclid=COGooPb_nrICFQjc4Aodz2gArw

Hybrids - Cotton/SS

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