Cotton is cotton, right? Actually, when it comes to vaping, all cotton is definitely not created equal. The vaping cotton you choose will have a significant impact on the quality of your experience, and can either make or break your next vape session. No matter what style of custom vape you’re currently enjoying, you’ll need high-quality cotton to reach your vape’s full performance potential.
Most seasoned vapers agree that cotton is the best wick material, but how do you pick the type that suits your needs? There are subtle differences between the varieties and brands of vape cotton, and knowing where to buy the best vaping cotton for your vape can be the key that unlocks your best-ever vape experience. No pressure, right?
In this guide to cotton for vaping, we’re diving into exactly why quality cotton matters so much – and how to tell the good cotton from the not-so-great. We’ll cover what kind of cotton is used for vapes, top-rated options, and answer some of the most common cotton-related questions.
Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll be ready to confidently shop for vape cotton that will suit your build, amp up flavor, and maximize your cloud potential.
What Type of Cotton is Used for Vapes?
When you open up your first box of vape cotton, it might seem like it’s exactly the same material used for cotton balls – but it’s actually surprisingly different. Vape cotton is undyed, unbleached, and untreated cotton specifically crafted for vaping use.
Many varieties of vape cotton are also categorized as organic. Cotton for vaping is heat-resistant, a necessary quality since it is used to wick heating coils. It’s also ideal for absorbing e-liquid and funneling it to your coils, and its neutral flavor ensures pure, unadulterated flavor.
Even though cotton is easily the most widely-used wicking material for vapers, that wasn’t always the case. Over the years, the vape community has experimented with a wide range of materials for wicking, including rayon, mesh, hemp, and silica.
Before vaping cotton became something you would find in virtually any vape shop, vapers that wanted to use cotton for their wicks often resorted to unbleached cotton balls from their neighborhood pharmacy.
Once the vaping community realized that cotton not only produced excellent flavor, but was also inexpensive and easy to work with, it became a go-to material. Now, you can find vaping cotton from dozens of brands, as well as take your pick from an impressive mix of varieties.
Innovative brands like Cotton Bacon have even gone above and beyond to present the cotton in easy-to-use strips, making it simpler than ever to achieve the perfect wick. New trends in cotton for vaping include agleted organic cotton wicks, crafted by brands like GeekVape and Wotofo and pre-measured for the most commonly-used coil diameters.
Can I Use Regular Cotton Balls for My Vape?
If vaping cotton is literally made from cotton, it might seem like regular cotton balls for vaping isn’t too much of a stretch. You may even know a vaper or two that reaches for cotton balls when they’re in a pinch. However, vaping with cotton balls or pads from your local drugstore is not recommended, and can actually be harmful.
The majority of cotton balls for cosmetic use are heavily processed used dye and bleach. Even organic cotton balls, which may be undyed or unbleached, aren’t quite the same as the cotton specifically designed for vaping.
And when you consider the boiling and drying process that some vapers use to turn cotton balls into a somewhat acceptable substitute for real vape cotton, it becomes obvious that investing in quality cotton for vaping isn’t just smarter, it’s downright easier.
What is the Best Cotton for Vaping?
Like most questions about the best supplies for vaping, there’s not just one answer to the question of which vape cotton you should choose. Each vaper has their own opinions on the best wick to use for vaping, and discovering your personal favorite usually requires a bit of experimentation.
Here are the most widely available types of cotton for vaping, each one with its own pros and cons:
Japanese Organic Cotton
Japanese organic cotton is preferred by serious and novice vapers alike, because it produces exceptionally pure flavor with next to no hassle. Because it comes in pads, it’s extremely easy to work with and cut to fit your individual coils. Many vape brands, including VaporFi and UD, offer Japanese organic cotton in packs of five of more, so you can always be sure to have a steady supply on hand.
Definitely one of the most popular types of cotton wicking material, Cotton Bacon keeps things sweet and simple with its unique design. The small strips (hence the “bacon” in the brand name) make wicking a breeze, saving you time and effort.
This U.S.-based manufacturer was the first ever to produce and sell a vaping-specific cotton wick, finally giving vapers an easily accessible option. Medical-grade Supima cotton offers the ultimate in clean, pure wicking material, completely free of chemicals like peroxide (something that many other cotton wick manufacturers can’t say).
Cotton Bacon is completely flavorless, so it won’t alter your e-juice experience, and the long fibers are ideal for wicking. For vapers working with a standard high-performance mod, Cotton Bacon V2 is a good fit. If you’re looking for the best cotton for squonking, we recommend Cotton Bacon Prime.
Kendo Vaping Cotton
Another cotton hailing from Japan, Kendo vaping cotton is harvested from a specific type of cotton plant. Unbleached and free from pesticides, this cotton boasts a pleasant taste and a high resistance to roasting.
Drago Egyptian Cotton
For vapers searching for a slow-burning cotton wick, Drago Egyptian cotton is a solid choice. If standard organic cotton or Cotton Bacon burns too quickly for your preferences, you may want to consider Drago Egyptian. The purification process uses no bleaching agents or hydrogen peroxide, and the clean taste lets the true flavor of your e-juice shine.
This wicking material closely resembles Japanese cotton, but comes in a slightly different form. Presented in a roll, the wicks can be cut at the middle to fit into coils. There’s no break-in time necessary, and the fire-resistant material can help you avoid scorching.
Vape Cotton: FAQs
Still trying to learn your way around vaping cotton? We have you covered with some of the most frequently-asked questions on the topic.
How Do I Find the Best Vape Cotton?
As we mentioned before, the best cotton for vaping is going to be a pretty personal decision. Odds are that you, like any vaper, have certain preferences for flavor and overall experience. The different types and brands of cotton wicking material can each provide a slightly different vape, so your favorite option might not be the same as your fellow vapers.
Here are a few factors that can affect the vape cotton that works best for you:
- MTL vs. DTL vaping
- The wattage at which you vape
- Your coil resistance
- Brand preference
- Flavor preference
Do I Need to Boil Cotton for Vaping?
If you’re trying to learn how to wick a coil correctly, you might see mention of boiling your cotton. Depending on who you ask – and the wicking cotton you’re using – deciding whether to boil your cotton is up to you. Back before there was cotton specifically for vaping, and vapers were using standard cotton pads, boiling was a must-do step. But now, with extremely clean, organic options like Cotton Bacon available, more vapers feel comfortable skipping this step.
For non-organic cotton, boiling is a smart way to eliminate any leftover residue or unwanted chemicals. Some vapers opt to boil even organic vaping cotton, in the interest of being extra cautious. If you do decide to boil your cotton, it’s important to use distilled or filtered water. Never use tap water, which can actually leach more harmful substances into your cotton. Bring the water to a boil, place the cotton in for about ten minutes, then remove and let dry.
How Often Should I Change the Cotton in My Vape?
The frequency with which you need to change your vape cotton varies depending on how often you vape, the e-liquids you use, your vaping temperature, and even the type of cotton you prefer. Signs that it’s time to change the cotton in your vape include:
- Low (or no) vapor production
- Vapor tastes burnt or “off”
- Coil buildup
- Wicks are discolored
- Wick ends are burnt
Some vapers prefer to switch out their cotton when they change e-juice flavors, especially if they don’t like tasting mixed flavors. If you’re swapping your e-juice out for one with a similar flavor profile, you’re probably fine to keep the same cotton. However, if you’re making a pretty big flavor leap – say, from peppermint to vanilla – then you might want to consider new cotton.
On average, regular vapers tend to change their cotton every few days. Some keep the same cotton for up to a few weeks, depending on their preference.
How Do I Wick a Coil with Cotton?
Once you have a type of cotton picked out, you’re ready to wick your coil. There are a few different coil wicking techniques you can try out, but this basic method is a great place to start:
- Take a piece of cotton and stretch it into a thin rope shape. Firmly press it together, making it fairly compact.
- Twist the rope, threading it carefully through the vape coils. When you’re first practicing your wicking technique, it can take a few tries to get the right size. Usually, a well-fitted wick measured anywhere between two and three inches in total length.
- Trim the ends of the wick.
- Make sure the wick is secure, tucking in the ends as needed. Many vapers like to fluff the wicks before tucking them in, a step that is believed to help maximize e-juice absorption. Tweezers can be a handy tool to have on hand for this part of the process.
- To create space for consistent airflow, make a small tunnel underneath the coils. Keep in mind that the cotton will expand once it comes into contact with vape juice, and adjust accordingly.
- Drop in your favorite e-juice, then test fire the coil to make sure you wicked it correctly. If you notice that the coil isn’t working normally, you may have used too much cotton and ended up blocking the airflow.
Another popular wicking method is called the Scottish Roll Technique, which allows for more open airflow. Some vapers swear by this method, citing improved wicking ability and increased absorption. If you want to try the Scottish Roll Technique on for size, here’s how to do it:
- Stretch the cotton fibers in a perpendicular direction against the grain, until the material is completely transparent and uniform.
- Roll up the cotton, then push it through one of the ends of the coil.
- Follow the rest of the steps as listed above.
Why Does My Vape Cotton Keep Breaking?
When your vape cotton breaks (also known as wick collapse), it can throw an annoying wrench in your vape plans. There are a few different reasons that can cause this frustrating issue, including:
- You’re using too much cotton or too little cotton.
- The cotton you’ve selected does not soak up enough e-juice.
- In wrapping the coil, you’ve accidentally caused insufficient airflow.
- Your e-liquid is high in sweeteners like sucralose or ethyl maltol, which have a lower burn temperature than other juices.
If you’re struggling with figuring out how to properly wick your coils, don’t despair quite yet – as the old adage goes, practice really does make perfect.
Where to Find the Best Vaping Cotton: Final Thoughts
So now you know one of the not-so-secret keys to a great vape experience: high-quality cotton. It can be tempting to try to save a few bucks by going with cheaper wicking material, but you’ll only be cheating yourself out of enjoyable vape sessions.
Look at it this way: sure, you could save a couple of dollars by choosing an off-brand, lower-quality vape cotton. But then you’d likely notice it impacting your flavor, which takes a lot of the fun out of that awesome new vape juice you just bought. Or, maybe it doesn’t absorb very well, so you end up burning through more e-liquid than you normally would.
In the end, you’re losing out on enjoyment factor – and maybe even actual cash – by cutting corners on cotton quality. Trust us, investing in the best cotton for your vape is more than worth it.
Shop the Best Vape Necessities from VaporFi
When you’re just beginning your vaping journey, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the decisions you didn’t expect you’d need to make. Creating your ideal vape set-up requires you to consider everything from a vape mod and tank to wicking material and coils, and choosing the right elements can be intimidating for new and seasoned vapers alike.
But when you choose a retailer that believes in quality, vaper education, and an exceptional vape experience for all, making the most of your daily vape gets a lot easier – and more fun. Here at VaporFi, our online shelves are stocked with the best vape brands and products in the industry, giving you a huge selection in one convenient place.
Plus, our customers enjoy perks like auto delivery discounts and no-minimum free shipping, helping you stretch your vape budget further than ever before. Whether you’re shopping for a brand-new vape mod or just need to stock up on cotton and other basics, you can find exactly what you need here at VaporFi.
Browse our full selection of vape accessories and supplies, where you’ll discover the products you need to take your vape experience to the next level of excellence.
Gianna Del Monte is the Brand Manager at VaporFi. She has been in the vaping industry since June 2015 and has extensive experience in successfully managing and marketing a variety of new vapor product launches. Originally from New Jersey, Gianna has lived in the Miami area for the last 5 years.