This beeswax-dipped hemp wick wraps around a lighter and sticks to itself without being sticky to the touch. (Ben Livingston, The Cannabist)

Are butane-free bowls better? Trying a hemp wick (review)

I prefer to keep my smoking experience simple. So, like most pot people, I use lighters to combust my cannabis. I’ve never given serious consideration to augmenting my lighter with hemp twine. But I was gifted an industrial hemp sample pack by an amazing Washington hemp activist named Ah Warner, and in it was beeswax-dipped hemp twine from Seattle company Wicked Wick of the West.

There are many potential reasons to go butane free. Some prefer to not breathe the stuff, even in minute quantities. Maybe bits of the lighter flint could get in your bowl. Watching a slow-motion lighter video is a convincing reminder that I don’t want any of that chemistry in my lungs. Which is why I don’t flick my Bic directly in my bowl. Still, I must admit that the hemp twine seems healthier than a prolonged butane burn.

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Beyond the potential health benefits over butane lighters, waxed hemp twine might taste “cleaner” — adulterating the pot’s terpene profile less so than butane. And, since it burns at a lower temperature than lighters, hemp wick might not destroy as many cannabinoids as the lighter, which could theoretically get you more stoned. And if none of that’s convincing, then maybe you just need more hemp in your life.

I wanted to give this hippie-dipped smoking twine a fair chance, despite my natural aversion to change, so I watched a few videos on the stuff to learn that it’s typically wrapped around a lighter. The wax causes it to naturally stick to itself without being sticky to the touch. I neatly bound my Bic and lit the end of the wick.

And I’m pleased to report that the hemp wick worked. It held a flame and lit a bowl full of cannabis. Talk about utility!

Do I taste a difference? No. Do I feel higher than usual? Yes, but I think I usually feel higher than usual. I don’t need convincing that beeswax is healthier than butane, but the real test for me is the hemp wick’s ease of use. When I first saw the stuff, I thought, “Great, another step in my weed smoking process, like I’m not already prone to confusion!” But the Wicked Wick sticks pretty cleanly and unobtrusively to itself, and I actually appreciate the tactile experience of the tightly wound, wick-bound lighter in my hand.

Change is a good thing.

Wicked Wick of the West is available online and at retailers in Washington. Similar wicks are available at Humboldt Traders, HempWick, Bee Wick Hemp Company, I-tal Hemp Wick and Bee Line, among others.