Kevlar used as torch wick - an unbelievable material
Kevlar, Nomex, Apyeil, Twaron - to name but a few well known brands, are all made from same generic compound, this is Aramid.
Aramids are aromatic Polyamids with astonishing qualities:
- heat resistant
- flame proof
- low termic shrink
- not melting and dripping
- no melting point
- durable for organic soluble liquids
- stands up to a high level of friction
- low breach extension
- self extinguishing
- emits very little smoke
- retains dimensions
- stands up to most chemicals
- not conductive
- not brittle at low temperatures
There are two different kinds of Aramid fibers. The difference comes from means of production. m-Aramid is made using a dry-spin technique, p-Aramid follows the wet-spin method.
Kevlar, for example, is made from p-Aramid and was discovered by the female scientist, Stephanie Kwolek, in Northern Ireland 1965.
More features to consider about Aramid:
- like other organic fibers, Aramid decomposes under U.V. light. Kept in sunlight for approximately 15 weeks, it looses it´s tensile strength by a fact of 50%
- concentrated acids and alkaline, especially in high temperatures, cause the Aramid to disintegrate
This means all juggling equipment made from Aramid must be stored carefully away from sunlight, even when it is used and charred.
Avoid boric acid, despite the attractive green flame it produces, and never wash the equipment with soap or washing powder.
However there are special liquids available that produce impressive colored fire which don´t ruin the Aramid fibers. By washing now and again using petrol or methanol the fibers become clearer to absorb more flammable liquid and restore longer burning time.
The best Aramid...
- should be mat texture, yellow in color and soft to touch
The glossy, yellow type which is harder to touch, more dense, also is Aramid, but does not absorb liquids well enough to use as a wick. Aramid is relatively very expensive, so inevitably cheaper fake imitations are available from Asia or other certain places. If you are lucky, the wick will be inferior. If you are unlucky it can contain carcinogenic asbestos. Sometimes you can recognize this by the white colored fibers mixed inside. These white colored fibers can be harmless as well - just another polyamide fiber - but they don´t have the same qualities as Aramid. The biggest disadvantage is that they are not absorbent.
- Aramid wick with fine metal wire netting woven in?
...matter of taste. After tests, the wick with wire netting does not last longer compared to the pure Aramid wick: The wire-mash becomes bristly, brakes here and there and leaves ladders and scratches. The wick with the metal catches essentially higher working temperatures. Result: Metal gets more hot than Aramid. The same amount of wick with wire netting does not burn as long as the pure Aramid wick.