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Flat Wick vs Knotted Wick Fire Props

Momo Bonobo

bonobo flow monkey fist palm torches

Most fire props will generally either have flat wicks or knotted wicks. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between these two are, you’ve come to the right place.

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Flat Wick Fire Props

Flat wick fire props are the most common and budget friendly props you can find. They are used in staffs, dragons, poi, hoops, nunchucks, and just about every fire prop you can think of. The actual flat-wick design is generally referred to as a “sushi roll” or (less commonly) as a “barrel roll”.

Some of the biggest advantages of flat wick props include:

  • Easier to replace yourself
  • Durable
  • More affordable
  • Usually lighter than knotted wick counterparts

Flat wick is usually attached to a prop with screws or with some type of loop or anchor around which the flat wick is wrapped then sewn in place with kevlar thread. In either case once your fire prop is worn down and the wick needs to be replaced, you can buy replacement wick and in most cases replace the wick yourself.

It’s pretty easy to tell when a wick needs to be replaced. Old wick will start to constantly fray and need to be trimmed. It won’t retain as much fuel either, so burn time will be diminished. It may even start unraveling if you push it’s lifespan too long which becomes a fire safety issue. The older a wick gets, the less safe it becomes. So be sure to replace it once you see obvious signs of wear and tear.

I generally recommend that you reach out to the manufacturer to ask for tips and specific kevlar dimensions so you know how much and what type you’ll need. Alternatively, you can also use a drill to remove screwed in wick (or cut the kevlar thread) and unravel the wick to measure the length and dimensions of kevlar you will need on your own. This way you can also be sure to reattach the kevlar in the same way you removed it (but in reverse).

Note: If you are replacing the kevlar yourself, make sure it is secure before lighting the prop on fire. Give the wick some tugs to ensure it is safe before lighting your prop on fire. If you have any concerns that it isn’t secured well, then DO NOT BURN IT.

Knotted Wick Fire Props

Knotted (or folded) wick fire props are increasing in popularity in the fire spinning community. They are most often seen in rope-based props (poi, rope dart, puppy-hammers, etc) but are also common in many stick props (contact staffs, dragon spokes, swords, etc). Historically, knotted wick props were always made using kevlar rope, but nowadays many prop makers will even create knots using flat wick. The most common knots around the world would be the monkey fist knot or the crown sinnet knot (and variations thereof).

The quality and weighting of knotted wick props can vary greatly depending on the thickness of rope or flat wick being used, if it’s made of blended or pure wick, if it has fiberglass core, and what the prop maker wraps the knot around. That being said, knotted wicks are generally more dense compared to sushi rolls and this can make props like contact staff or contact poi feel better weighted. Depending on how wide and dense the knot is constructed, knotted wicks can also slow down the rolling speed of a staff. This effect is similar to that of adding staff flowers to a staff.

In comparison to flat wick props, knotted wick props generally need to be replaced by the prop manufacturer unless you have extensive knowledge of prop design and knotting. Most warranties that come with props can also be voided if you tamper with the original prop. Knotted wicks need to be replaced once the knot starts coming apart or once the wear and tear greatly affects the burn time and stability of the knot. If you’re not sure, send a picture of your prop to the manufacturer you bought it from and ask for their opinion.

Some of the biggest advantages of knotted wick fire props include:

  • Beautiful designs
  • Denser weighting
  • Increased surface area usually means larger fire
  • Denser knots usually means longer burn time

Note: Although knotted wicks are generally secured by prop makers and manufacturers, you should avoid playing with the knots. Unnecessary strain on the knot design can make it unravel. For props that are dropped a lot, it’s recommended to practice on softer grounds like grass (this is also generally important for flat wick props).

Conclusion

There are tons of designs using flat wick and knotted wicks on the market today. Although I gave a rundown of the differences, companies build their props in very different ways. The way a prop is weighted and feels will vary from one build to another.

A quick and dirty recap:

  • Flat wick props are durable, more affordable, easier to replace
  • Knotted wick props come in beautiful designs, have denser weighting, and generally have more surface area and longer burn times (varies by knot)

As always, message us if you have any comments or questions so I can update this post as needed!