Wicka wicka

HERBWISE: Butane, beware. We present to you, the hemp wick

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A spool'll do ya: Humboldt Hemp Wicks, as seen in bulk.

HERBWISE I absolutely hated the hemp wick the first time I saw one on of my stoner friends' lighters – and oh yes, at the moment this particular product will only show up in connection with your most stoner of friends. 

“What the hell is that?” They were sparking a joint with this awkwardly long waxed hemp string that they'd wrapped around the torso of their lighter. 

I was an idiot. I apologize, hemp wicks. Now I know you only have my best interests at heart. 

You'll have to excuse my insta-hate. There are a lot of superfluous weed products out there (I've bitched about it before). Generally, I think the system we have going – plant, smoking device, flame, occasionally ingesting bud-inflected edibles – has served fairly well up until this point and anyone who messes with it runs the risk of a gimmicky high. See: the cannabis aphrodisiac shot. Case in point. 

But – as my red-eyed friend mellowly explained – the hemp wick is a different sort of animal. It's not adding superfluity to one's toke, it's taking it away. Namely, it's taking artificial gases out of your smoking experience. If you're lighting your spliff, blunt, pipe, bowl, bong with a lighter, you're channeling butane right at your point of inhalation. That's a bummer not just because you're adding chemicals to your high, but also because butane messes with your ability to taste whatever strain you're smoking. Believe me, your Banana Kush sloughs its peel when it doesn't have to combat that stream of gas you're bathing it in with the lighter. Not to mention, with a steady flame you can spot control where your heat winds up, all the better for working that bowl. 

And so: the wick. Though HempWick claims to be the originators of the commercially-produced organic spool, Humboldt Hemp Wicks is experiencing a certain vogue as the choice strand in the Bay Area. The company has been selling wick for four years through the Internet, and its website proudly proclaims that it has every shop in Arcata and Eureka hawking its wares. You can get 10 feet for under two bucks, 200 feet for about $17. 

Not that hemp wick doesn't come without certain professional hazards. Managing an – albeit waxed – thread with flame on the end does require a certain amount of grace. Does your focus intensify or wane when stoned? Beware the flailing wick. (And distinct possibility that, with the purchase of this product, you will graduate to the next echelon of stoner identity. This can either impress or upset those around you.)

But if my stoniest of baloney friends can wield the wick, I'm confident that my fearless readers will be able to. Just what you needed, right? Another reason to smoke.