Whether you are using a wick in a lantern or attaching one to a chain to spin, a lot of similarities exist in how they hold, transport and vaporize fuel. If you dump a bag of marbles on a table, you’ll notice that they generally don’t just sit there in a pile, they spread fairly evenly around the table in a roughly circular format until they spill off the edge. This is the basic principal behind surface spread. Many surfaces promote liquids to spread across them until an even layer is produced. For a wick in an oil lamp, this is all that happens. The fuel at the top is burnt off which makes room for more spreading and more is drawn up from the liquid reserve.
With the wicks used for fire performance, there is rarely a liquid reserve. Such a reserve would be dangerous in a device that might rapidly strike the ground. So performance wicks depend on a combination of capillary action and absorption to hold their fuel. Natural fibers, as a rule, tend to have a lot more surface area than man-made fibers. This gives them a great advantage in capillary capacity and helps in their macro-level absorption. The only down side is that all natural fibers are flammable, and can get destroyed in the process of an act.
Bearclaw’s hybrid wicks take advantage of both the absorbent properties of natural fibers and the fire resistant properties of man-made fibers. The bulk of the hybrid wicks are highly purified cotton fibers to provide the maximum absorbency available. This core is then covered in a full layer of Kevlar (TM-DuPont) fabric that protects the core from flame and a certain degree of heat. This model applies to floggers, poi, fans and anything else that advertises a hybrid wick on this site.
Hybrid wicks solved a problem that pure kevlar wicks had for some time: alcohol. Most alcohols have a fairly weak flame and short burn time; on kevlar, they extinguish easily and don’t produce much light. On the other hand, they can dissolve a variety of substances that can change the flame different colors. Hybrid wicks are very difficult to extinguish by spinning, even with alcohol, and the flame size is notable with any fuel.
Care and Maintenance
Properly maintained, a hybrid wick can provide dozens, or hundreds, of burns. But several steps must be followed to insure maximum life. First, care should be taken to insure that only white gas or alcohol is used as fuel. Mixing with longer chain fuels (like Kero or Lamp Oil) can degenerate the kevlar threads used to hold the wick together, and can cause the cotton core to burn out. On the other hand, if you don’t mind replacing your wicks after just a couple of burns, a full soak in lamp oil with a spritz of white to get them lit can result in burn times over 15 minutes with standard poi balls.
After each burn, the wicks should be allowed to naturally cool down until room temp before another burn is attempted; rapid successive burns can cause the core to ignite. As each wick nears the end of it’s life, stitching up any holes in the Kevlar as they appear can extend the life of the wick by several burns.
If at any time, excessive smoke and internal heat can be felt, it’s possible that the internal core is smoldering. this can burn out the contents of the core completely. the wick should be doused in liquid immediately to put out the smolder. We suggest rubbing alcohol for this as it will cleanly evaporate in a couple hours.