Most people tend to light up with a handheld lighter and there are some variations to doing so. However, some people prefer the use of a hemp wick to light their weed in a more natural way. But just what is a hemp wick? They are strings made from hemp that are typically coated in beeswax for a slower burn. Wicks are strong and durable and produce no taste when lighting. Avoiding exposure to butane is the main reason smokers choose to use a hemp.
It’s an easy way to go natural. If you see a lighter that’s been wrapped up in what looks like twine, it’s for easy access to the hemp wick.
Why Use Hemp Over a Lighter?
Using a lighter means releasing butane, a gas with relatively low toxicity. However, researchers have said “in nonfatal cases, butane appears to have frequently affected the heart and brain. Most of these cases involved inhalant abusers with repetitive exposure to butane.”
The health effects of butane are often studied in large amounts, rather than small exposure over time. The amount of butane that escapes when lighting weed is difficult to determine. Using hemp wick eliminates the risk of butane exposure.
Many enthusiasts will also tell you that butane taints the flavor of cannabis. Hemp burns at lower temperatures and doesn’t produce an adverse flavor, preserving terpenes and overall making for a better session. If you’re smoking some low-quality stuff, it might not matter to you if a lighter or hemp wick was used.
If you’re smoking some very high quality, flavorful stuff, you may want to use a hemp wick to preserve the flavor. If you’re sharing a bowl with some friends, a hemp wick may make it easier to share without accidentally burning the whole stash.
With a hemp wick, you can control the length of the flame, which means you can get more precise with what and where you are lighting. It also allows you to avoid the issue of burning yourself on the lighter for those longer sessions.
The precision hemp wicks offer can be useful for end-of-the-joint situations where lighting the remaining material is difficult. Rather than hold the flame close to your face or accidentally burn it all up at once, you can use the hemp wick to get just enough spark to finish the joint. Plus, hemp wicks are trendy.
How to Use a Hemp Wick
One thing that is sometimes overlooked when switching to hemp wicks is the fact that you’re still going to require a lighter. The wick won’t magically spark and light your weed on its own. That’s why many people wrap their hemp wick around their lighter.
Not only does it make for easy access, but it also serves as a reminder to use each time you pull out the lighter. Plus, when it’s already attached, there is no risk of losing the hemp wick and having to light up the regular way. Whether you keep a ball of hemp wick in your pocket or have it attached to a lighter, the process is the same:
Take the end of the string, light it with your lighter, and give it a moment to burn. Then use the lit end to light your cannabis. You can control how much flame goes into the process, allowing for more precision.
When you’ve finished lighting, you can either dip the hemp wick into water or just wet your fingers and pinch the twine. Once it’s completely out, you can wrap it back around the lighter or store it wherever you choose to keep it.
Where to Get Hemp Wick
If you’re interested in using hemp wick, you can find it in a local smoke shop, dispensary or sometimes even a retail store. It’s also widely available to purchase online. Don’t just buy hemp twine as hemp wick is typically dipped in beeswax to make it burn slower.
If you use twine to light your cannabis, it’s going to catch and burn very quickly. Some people make their own hemp wick as well. This can be a long process that involves several materials, melting beeswax, and hanging the spool up to dry.
While this may be a fun way to kill some time, hemp wick is really cheap and lasts a long time. Most hemp wick is going to come out at under $5 and be useful for a while. If it’s costing more than that, it’s probably because it contains a ton of hemp wick and will last even longer.
Is Using a Hemp Wick the Healthiest Way to Smoke?
Most people who use hemp wicks will tell you they do so because it’s healthier and more natural. Naturally, some byproducts are going to appear from burning hemp fibers and beeswax, but unfortunately, there is little information about the risks of these byproducts.
Unless some news comes out about the risks of combusting beeswax and hemp fibers, wick does appear to be a healthier way to go, but this hasn't been proven in any studies thus far. Most of the studies looking at butane toxicity are examining high exposures of butane, much more significant than the amount a smoker is exposed to when lighting up.
However, if you smoke often, you may be exposing yourself to butane on a regular basis, which may have detrimental effects. Wick prevents any inhalation of butane and allows for more precision over the process.
Whether it’s necessary to switch to hemp wicks is up to the individual and their reasons for wanting to make the switch. Regardless of the health effects, many people who use hemp wick find it to offer more control and cut out any unpleasant tastes.