If there is anything that is entirely symbolic of the act of smoking marijuana, it is the click of a lighter. That crisp, sharp sound and the sudden burning light of a small butane lighter is, perhaps more than anything else, a sign that you are about to light up.
However, not everyone is as big a fan of butane lighters as you might expect; it turns out there are a large number of problems associated with using them, and that there are a few useful and cheap alternatives that are just as easy.
One of these is the famous hemp wick, a pretty easy way to light your weed without having to deal with the irritations and smell of a butane lighter.
But just what is a hemp wick, and how are you supposed to use one?
What is a Hemp Wick?
A hemp wick is an alternative method of lighting your weed that uses hemp coated in wax, rather than any kind of artificial ignition. It isn’t any kind of brilliant or brand new piece of technology; instead, it is just a slightly older, perhaps healthier way of lighting up.
A simple butane lighter is quite an easy-to-use piece of equipment; in essence, by using a small tank of butane fuel in its stores, it can ignite the fluid in gaseous form using the electric spark created when you press down on the clicker.
This is obviously a very convenient way to light up, but it has a number of problems, namely the fact that you are having to put butane in whatever you are lighting.
A hemp wick offers a more natural alternative, which works using incredibly ancient methods of lighting up. Instead of lighting gas to heat up your bud, you can instead use strands of hemp that have been coated in beeswax, allowing them to burn down without going out slowly, all while making it easy to hold against your bud and light up.
In fact, this method used to be known as “slow-match” and was used as a way to light cannons!
Hemp wick is obviously a very straightforward product, but there are a variety of different types and brands available. There are some that are nothing more than leftover industrial hemp dipped in excess beeswax. However, there are some that sell it as a priority trade good, meaning that the hemp and beeswax have been specifically grown for the purpose of making hemp wicks. Each of the hemp strands having been carefully interwoven and made into the most perfect bundle possible, along with a gentle, slightly floral-tasting coating of beeswax.
Although hemp wicks are pretty simple, there are still plenty of people that struggle to understand precisely how to use a hemp wick.
How Do You Use Hemp Wick?
The operation of a hemp wick might seem a bit convoluted at first, as it has a very fundamental step that many people find irritating – you still need a lighter to get it working.
Many people might complain and say that if you have to use a lighter to start the process, why not just use a butane lighter to begin with?
The key thing here is that the initial light from the butane lighter is only to get the fire started; it won’t be the thing that goes into your weed, nor will it taint the hemp wick, as the part that gets touched by any butane will be instantly burnt away.
To start using your hemp wick, you need to unfurl it; each hemp wick comes bundled as a tightly woven package, sometimes up to 200 meters in length! It is very important that you do not unravel it completely, as you will then not be able to wind it back together again.
You need to peel back the piece of tape or whatever your individual brand of hemp wick has used to hold down the first tendril of the wick, thus freeing a single strand and allowing you to use it.
Holding it away from any source of wind or disturbances, and especially away from any fabrics, you need to light the tip of your hemp wick using a regular lighter or a match. Once it is burning, get rid of the original source of flame and let the wick burn for a little while.
This small period of burning allows you to get rid of any possible taint from the butane lighter, as well as giving it time for the fire to take hold and begin burning correctly.
Once you have got your hemp wick burning nicely, you can then use it as you would any other source of fire for lighting marijuana.
When you use hemp wick to light a marijuana joint, simply hold the tip of the flame to your joint and inhale, the same as you would with a match. A significant benefit of hemp wicks is the fact that they hold their shape when you hold them up, instead of flopping down and being a dangerous fire hazard like a lit piece of string would be.
For lighting a pipe, it is even easier; simply place the tip into the bowl of the pipe and gently inhale. You can even leave the tip of the Hemp Wick in the bowl as it lights, ensuring you get a nice, even burn that continues throughout your smoke.
Once you are finished with your smoke, merely extinguish the tip of your hemp wick, either by wetting the tips of your fingers and pressing the fire out or by dipping the tip in water. Once it is out and you have made sure that it is not hot anymore, then it is effectively safe for storage.
Simply re-wrap your bundle of hemp wick, making sure to tuck the tip back into the rest of the bulk of your hemp wick.
As an essential safety tip, you need to absolutely make sure that it is completely cool and there is no change of it reigniting. Once you put the tip back into the bundle, if you were being absent-minded and it was still alight, you could risk burning the entire bundle in one.
However, that is incredibly difficult to do, as it is very obvious when it is still lit, so you only need to pinch it to put it out.
However, why are people so afraid of using butane lighters and want to switch to hemp wicks?
What’s Wrong with Butane Lighters?
As mentioned, butane lighters are literally everywhere in the western world; there is simply no more convenient method for lighting a cigarette or a joint than those handy little lighters.
However, the butane gas that is contained within each and every lighter can pose serious health risks, especially when it comes to marijuana that might need a few lights to really start burning.
Human lungs were not really meant to be breathing in gaseous butane, so when you are lighting your marijuana joint, and you keep breathing the flame into the joint, you are exposing yourself to a large quantity of extremely hot, uncomfortably flavored butane gas.
Although hemp wicks still require you to use a butane lighter or another form of lighting equipment to get it started, hemp wicks manage to avoid the irritation and negative health problems associated with breathing in a large quantity of butane.
Why Use It?
The theory is inhaling hot butane from a lighter or the admixture of combustible chemicals, glue and wood from a match is worse for your body than a flame atop all-natural, wax-coated hemp twine. Hemp is cannabis, after all—it’s the same plant you’re already smoking (although, as you know, there’s really nothing in it that’s going to get you high).
Hemp wick also burns at a lower temperature than a lighter, meaning that hits are smoother and there’s more potential to appreciate terpenes. Added bonus: with hemp wick, very little ends up having to go to landfill.
How Is Hemp Wick Sold?
You can buy a tiny bundle for just a dollar or two to rolls of up to 420 feet (no joke) or more. It can come in different diameters too–the thicker the twine, the slower and larger the flame–though it’s mostly sold at 1.0 millimetres. If your local head shop or cannabis store doesn’t have it, it’s very easy to find online—even the Ontario Cannabis Store carries it. Various hemp wick dispensers are also available.
Final Thoughts on Hemp Wicks
The idea of using anything other than a butane lighter might seem strange and uncomfortable for the majority of smokers – after all, those small butane lighters are what people have been using for centuries to light their cigarettes, so why shouldn’t we all simply keep using them?
Well, just because something has been used for hundreds of years doesn’t mean there aren’t better methods just around the corner.
One of the most significant advantages in using hemp wicks to light your Marijuana, besides the obvious benefit in both smell and taste, is the fact that it is made from hemp; for those that imbibe marijuana, it is often important to be able to stay as close to the natural world as possible. This means pairing things together that would naturally go together, and trying to avoid artificial, human-made goods.
Due to this, it makes a lot of sense why those that use marijuana would be interested in also lighting their marijuana using hemp, as it is rather like using every single part of the plant in a single process.
If you have ever been a diehard butane lighter user, or you just want to try and experience something a bit different, give hemp wicks a try – as long as you know what you are doing, it is a piece of cake.
Hemp wick is not for the clumsy. If hand-eye coordination is an issue, you might redefine ‘burning one down,’ right? But if you’re kicking back to savour a bowl, its steady flame and mild beeswax aroma make it a very pleasant alternative to fumbling with matches or lighters. Some purists, though, might still prefer the ash-less and comparatively tasteless experience that comes with burning butane.