What is a Hemp Wick: Introduction
Augmenting a lighter with a hemp wick provides a safer and healthier way to light tobacco pipes, cigars, hookahs, grills, pilot lights, candles and anything else. Hemp wicks are coated with beeswax or similar substances to help preserve the flame after the fuel lever has been released. This method allows smokers to inhale without taking in the toxic butane fumes produced by conventional lighters. Aside from the obvious health benefits, using hemp wicks ensures that the smoker can appreciate the full flavor of their product without the bitter taste of butane. Hemp wicks have become increasingly popular over the past few years as smokers' standards for quality have risen.
What is a Hemp Wick: Terminology and Definitions
Hemp comes from one of the many varieties of plants. It is often referred to as industrial hemp thanks to its wide use in manufacturing.
Hemp is typically grown and cultivated for raw materials, which are used in literally thousands of industrial products. Hemp oil, seeds and flowers can also be found in many health foods, organic bath soaps and other nutraceutical products. Its fibers and stalks are common in clothes, paper products, biofuels, construction materials, and plastic composites. According to the Hemp Industries Association, the annual estimated retail value of all hemp products sold in the U.S. alone totals over $600 million.
While hemp has many uses, it should never be smoked.
What Is A Hemp Wick: Hemp and the Environment
Farmers commonly use hemp as a rotation crop because it releases large amounts of CO2, which detoxifies the soil and safeguards against erosion. The parts of the plant leftover after harvest provides nutrients to the soil when it decomposes. Compared to other crops, hemp requires little water and no pesticides, so it has little environmental impact.
What is a Hemp Wick: History of Hemp
Hemp was one of the earliest domesticated crops and has been used to make textiles, paper and cordage for millenniums. Archaeologists found an article of hemp fabric made in 8,000 B.C., which is one of the oldest human industrial artifacts ever discovered.
Due to its legal history in the U.S., many Americans confuse hemp with its counterpart and do not understand its industrial applications. To be clear, possession of the industrial hemp used for wicks is completely legal in the U.S., but growing hemp is illegal and punishable by fines and jail time.
What is a Hemp Wick: Different Types
So what is a hemp wick? Hemp wicks are simply strings of hemp fiber covered in multiple layers of wax. They can usually be purchased in wound balls or rolls. Beeswax is the most commonly used coating because it is natural, nontoxic and helps the string maintain its shape when in ball or roll form. Beeswax burns slowly, which is why beeswax hemp wicks are especially ideal for providing a controlled burn.
Because most beekeepers run small operations, profits from beeswax products often go toward supporting local economies, which is another reason beeswax hemp wicks are appealing to conscientious smokers. However, a small minority of people are allergic to beeswax, and many vegans consider beekeeping to be unethical, so there are alternative ways of making hemp wicks.
One alternative to beeswax is rice bran wax. Although rice bran wax has been used in parts of Asia for centuries to make candles and torches, it has recently become more popular in the west as consumers have embraced the benefits of the macrobiotic substance. Rice bran allergies are less common than sensitivities to beeswax and soy, so it is considered safe for everyone. Rice bran wax is also dryer and more firm than solid beeswax, so it is less likely to pick up dust. Perhaps the best benefit of rice bran wax is that it burns more slowly than other waxes, so many smokers find rice bran hemp wicks to be the most economical.
What is a Hemp Wick: The Advantages
The greatest appeal of hemp wicks is that they deliver a more pleasurable smoking experience. Virtually all conventional lighters use butane for fuel. When inhaled, butane is a toxic substance that can cause a number of symptoms including drowsiness, nausea, asphyxia, euphoria and narcosis. Conventional lighters also release small quantities of nitrogen dioxide, another harmful chemical, when they burn.
While butane lighters are considered safe to use, many smokers find that the taste and side effects of butane detract from their enjoyment. When using a butane-fueled flame to directly light a pipe or cigarette, the smoker inhales the butane fumes, resulting in a bitter taste. Inhaling butane also irritates the throat, resulting in more coughing and soreness.
Alternatively, using a butane lighter to ignite a hemp wick and then using the wick to light a pipe cuts out the butane fumes and allows the smoker to only take in the full flavor of what they are smoking. When the flame takes to the wax-coated wick, it burns at a lower temperature, which gives the smoker more control so that they don't burn all of their product at once. This method also provides for a smoother hit and saves on lighter fluid because it only takes a second for the wick to catch flame.
What is a Hemp Wick: How to Use
Many smokers find that the easiest way to use their hemp wick is to wrap it around their lighter leaving the end tip hanging over where the flame comes out. In addition to being safer and producing a more palatable puff, using a hemp wick can help smokers better pace how quickly their product burns. Lighting a pipe can always be a tricky process, especially for novice smokers, and accidentally igniting the entire bowl is a common occurrence that wastes tons of product and money.
These steps describe the most efficient way to use hemp wicks for smoking:
1. Carefully unwind a bit of wick from the roll. When first getting started, smokers should have a generous amount of wick readily available until they get a feel for how quickly the wick burns. Weather conditions can affect burning speed, so it's advisable to err on the side of caution so that smokers don't burn themselves when trying to light up.
2. Carefully ignite the tip of the wick making sure that the flame stays lit.
3. Bring the flame to the product and slowly inhale on the pipe until the desired affect is achieved. Tilting the wick up or down can help control the burning speed.
4. Immediately blowout the flame on the wick as a safety precaution. Make sure not to set the hot wick down near anything flammable. Since the wax coating may drip while the wick is still warm, make sure it's not in a position to drip on anything important.
Although having to continually light the wick might seem inconvenient at first, most smokers who try this method find it worth the effort because they are no longer breathing in butane, and they can fully enjoy the flavor of their product.
What is a Hemp Wick: Popularity
In the grand scheme of things, using hemp wicks for smoking is a relatively new phenomenon that is quickly becoming more mainstream. The rising popularity of wicks for smoking can likely be attributed to the trend of consumers becoming more conscious about what goes into their bodies. No one disputes that smoking anything is bad for the human lungs; however, that doesn't mean that smokers want to inhale butane along with their product. People today prefer natural and organic products over those containing unnecessary chemicals, so it's no surprise that smokers want to reduce the number of toxins they take in. Smokers who light up with hemp tend to report feeling overall healthier in their daily lives because they are less prone to coughing, sore throats, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea and headaches.
What is a Hemp Wick: The Future of Hemp
The harvesting of hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. for several decades; however, a law passed in 2014 made it possible for states to pass their own legislation to allow the growth of hemp for industrial, research and development purposes.
States that are taking advantage of this new rule include Colorado, Oregon and Kentucky, where pilot projects are already being implemented. Other state legislators are considering passing similar laws, and they will likely start growing hemp soon. Thanks to decades of prohibition, American farmers are having to adapt to a learning curve, so it will take a while for the agricultural hemp industry to take off in the U.S. For now, most industrial hemp will continue being imported from abroad.
What Is A Hemp Wick: Hemp Legalization
In January 2015, a bill was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives called The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, also known as H.R. 525. A similar bill called S. 134 is under consideration in the Senate. These proposals would lift the federal ban against cultivating industrial hemp in addition to revoking hemp's status as a Schedule I drug.
If these bills eventually become law, farmers across the country will undoubtedly rush to enter the domestic hemp market.
What is a Hemp Wick: Conclusion
Using hemp to light up is not a passing fad; in fact, it is likely to become more standard as smokers realize its many advantages. Hemp wicks are affordable and greatly prolong the life of lighters since smokers aren't sucking up butane while they inhale.