Rayon VS Cotton - One to rule them all

A couple of months ago I bought some Rayon/Viscose, and ever since then I have thought about making a thorough scientific comparison to finally once and for all determine which is the wicking material to rule them all :crown:

It however looks like that is never going to happen :frowning_face: so instead I give you a completely unscientific, anecdotal and subjective comparison between Rayon/Viscose and Cotton based on some more or less arbitrary parameters :wink:

Look and Feel

We all know what cotton looks and feels like and even though rayon looks very similar perhaps a bit whiter, it feels very different. If you run your fingers through it it feels much smoother, almost silk like. More importantly it feels like the fibres are generally longer and more uniformly aligned in the length direction of the wick. It simply feels like it ought to be a better wicking material.

Perhaps not the most important parameter, but I will never the less give rayon a clear 1-0 victory on this.

Ease of use

When I was still using cotton I used a variation of the scottish roll, where I would roll it very tightly, thin out the tails heavily and also cut of quite a lot of the tails at an angle. This allowed me to pack in quite a bit of cotton in the coil, while not overstuffing the wicking channels.

With rayon I pretty much do the same thing, except there is one major problem. It seems to be pretty much impossible to squeeze rayon into a slimmer shape, as soon as you release the pressure it just pops right back into its default thickness. This also means it is near impossible to pack enough rayon into the coils without deforming the coils! It might be a bit easier it you use thick wire, but I like to use very thin wire (2x30+40) and my coils always get somewhat deformed. This is made even worse by the fact that rayon doesn’t expand the same way cotton does when it gets wet, making it even more important that you stuff the coils as much as possible.

This is a very clear 2-0 win for cotton.

Break in period

During the break in of rayon I get a very sickening off taste, it is not a strong taste in fact it is quite faint, but it is also quite vomit inducing :face_vomiting:. If you have ever been near a paper mill or other cellulose processing plants you know what I’m talking about. It however doesn’t last long, it only takes about 1-2 ml of juice to wash it away.

With cotton I also get a bit of off taste, it might even be a bit stronger and last a bit longer, but it is a much more pleasant taste, almost vanilla like :yum:

This is a clear 1-0 win for cotton.

Wicking capabilities

This one is a though one, theoretically rayon ought to have better capillary capabilities, which means that it should be able to wick faster, and perhaps it also does. The problem however is that I have never had any problems with cotton, so I simply haven’t personally been able to notice any difference, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any difference or that others mightn’t notice a difference, just that I can’t.

I have to declare this a 1-1 draw


Again a though one. In order to determine this I would really need to do a blind test with two identical setups, or at least try the same juice in one atty with cotton and another with rayon. The problem however is that I don’t do anything half and have already rewicked all of my atties with rayon, and I’m too lazy to rewick one of them with cotton just to perform this test. (And yes I do realise the build in irony in that sentence :face_with_raised_eyebrow:)

Based on my memory of how it used to taste with cotton, I will however say that I think I get a slightly cleaner flavour from rayon, it might all be in my head, but it is never the less the impression I get.

I will declare this a 2-1 win for rayon.


With cotton I usually had to rewick at least once a week, with rayon I have however just gone through a 3 week period with the same wicks, before I finally rewicked last night. Mind you, this was purely done as a scientific test to see how long I could stretch it, not because I was too lazy to rewick and it by happy happenstance turned out to be useful for this post … Ahhh … who am I kidding, I’m lazy, I know it, but in this case laziness paid off.

During this 3 week period I didn’t notice any drop in flavour or any off taste at all, which I most certainly would have with cotton. Furthermore when dissecting the rayon it looked much cleaner than cotton would have been after just one week of use. There was some brown blotches of caramelized liquid, especially one very large on top of one of the wicks, but it was only skin deep, and the rest looked crispy white, in one of my rta’s the wicks actually looked so good that I was tempted to just pop the cap back on and give it another 3 weeks :wink:

This is a very clear 2-0 win for rayon.

And the winner is …

Rayon/Viscose 6 - 5 Cotton

A close fight but Rayon/Viscose manages to pull ahead at the last minute and win by the smallest possible margin.

The decisive difference for me is the longevity, if it wasn’t for this then I don’t think it would be worth the extra trouble.

So would I recommend this to others … ehh … perhaps, it depends.
If you are perfectly happy with the wicking material you use now, then I don’t really see any reason to rush out and buy something else.
If you are new to rebuildables, cotton is most definitely easier to wick with.
If however you are searching for a better wicking material, or you simply like to experiment and make up your own mind, then sure, give it a try.
* Cotton I have used was Muji and Koh-Gen-Do, and the Rayon/Viscose Graham’s Cellucotton


I have tried almost every premium cotton out…even those u mentioned…reason why I tried so many was the cotton taste an the break in period,it makes me cough bad…now i use nothing but Rayon…its strange as i have no breakin taste at all…none…and one thing I do like about rayon is u get a warmiong before a dry hit…your vape is close to tasteless…but as u said u have to pack the coil as rayon does shrink a bit when wet…

another good thing with rayon…I can go from one flavor to another an after two hits i am getting the new flavor right away…with cotton it held the flavor of the prior so i had to change it…

what i have done was put on some nitrile gloves…add a few drops of vg…roll the rayon in my had to give the rayon a little coating…seems to slide in coils a bit better…

like you i can go a few weeks with out changing it…

WARNING…do not get a dry hit from rayon…i would rather stick needles in my eyes than get a dry hit…but like said u do get a warning


The strange thing is… with me it’s the complete opposite. I have a terrible break-in with rayon, as good as none with KGD


I use both and find the cotton has a longer break in period than rayon. With rayon after 3 - 5 hits I’m good to go. I do find that some of my RTAs seem to work better with one or the other. With decks that require the wick to fully enter the channel, cotton works better for me because it swells when wet. If the wick just sits atop the juice flow holes, rayon does just fine.
Dry hits with rayon are just the worst vape-thing I can imagine aside from this:


I never tried anything else besides cotton, that however I purchased a lot of different brands, in fact by the sheer amount of cotton in my house I probably could roll my own tampons for the next 3 years and be happy.

I finally settled for kendo vape cotton gold and I love it so much, hard to actual describe, but I have much better taste/flavor, my wicks I have to change only every 4 weeks, in fact they would even last longer but my coils wouldn’t survive that lol. There’s a two puff break in if even and it holds on to juices like nothing else, however I can switch flavor profiles nearly instantly even with lingering juices such as grape and watermelon.

Anyways, everybody enjoys something different and I’m glad you wrote down your opinion, I might give it a try after I’m done with the cotton, always good to see more detailed information than its good/bad kind of comment. Thank you for that.


Thanks for the tip. I actually thought about this myself, but for some reason or another didn’t try it last night, but I will definitely try it next time.

Personally I use TC so I don’t get dry hits :wink: but yeah that is also a parameter you need to consider.


You’re going to wake up @therabidweasel with this post :rofl:
Where’s the comparison with hemp, the other big wicking player?


Give it a year or so and I might, and I said might give hemp a try, and write up another completely subjective comparison.


Lostmarbles…when i have a wicking channel thats big …I break of a piec from the roll or som that i trimmed off the wick an lay it in the channel then flop my wick over it…it fills the channel perfect…also acts a small reserve when the tank goes dry…lol…

I have COPD…I was given some hemp to try…i used in a RDA…as not all tanks are easy to use hemp in…any ways I got the rda wicked with hemp…loaded with juice an let it sit a few to get fully saturated…well the first hit nearly killed me…it has a break in period an then is tasteless…
but for me to try an vape during the break in I would be coughing lung bits up…I have never heard any one say an negitives of hemp except the small break in period…wish I could use it…its always worh a try…you never know when u hit your sweet spot…

But always use what is good for you…


@IzNoGoat Very nicely done Sir, very nicely done. I’ve dabbled with some cellu rayon, but never used it consistently enough to make the comparison you did. I think I may have “kicked it to the curb” prematurely as it does have to be treated differently than cotton when loading. I did get somewhat of an off taste at first as well, but for me, it seemed I had to throw more ml’s at it, to make it subside. I’ve got a huge box left of it, maybe I should test it out again.


Hey thanks for the heads up. I’m going to give your wicking method a try. Never thought of doing it that way. Cheers!



You aren’t wicking it tight enough IMO. Tighter is better with rayon because it shrinks unlike cotton that swells when it gets wet. You want it tighter than you think it should be, so tight that it is trying to deform your coils and you can hear/feel it squeak. I draft my rayon and twist it as I pull it through. Once fully wicked I prime it and pulse it at low wattage as I drip on the coil a good number of times so any off taste from the rayon is gone before I take my first vape.

I go 100 - 150ml between re-wicks with my graham 44060 and DIY with no or minimal stevia sweetener.


I don’t think that is the case. I have also tried getting a small gap between the wick and coil, and that was something entirely different, like a puff from hell. This off taste however is more like a cellulose flavour, like how it would inevitable smell at the factory where they make it, and it is only during the break in period, not permanent.

I don’t know why the break in off taste varies so much from person to person, perhaps some are just more sensitive to it than others, or perhaps some batches are simply better cleaned than others?!

I did however read in the the mega threat at ECF, someone claiming that the looser you wick, while still wicking tight enough to get the squeak of course, the faster the off taste disappears.


Great write up. If you wouldnt mind Id like to link this to my hemp thread if folks see value in that. I like rayon a lot and Kendo Gold is also good. That said hemp is a different animal. Its insanity. It has no flavor. It takes massive hits from my LiPo PWM sledgehammers. I have two modfathers Im vaping regularly above 200W and those builds are from October. I have a few builds that are over 2 years old. The limit is the coil. As for clearing flavors, a member supposedly vaped tuna juice and switched to a custard iirc. I think all the high end wicks have their place. Im super lazy. Cotton disentagrates, used or not, after a few weeks ime. Rayon has killer flavor, but to me that has rolled off fast and I’d never want to hit it with 500W ramps…not many people need, or should need such a thing, but Im a redneck.

@AlanS…Id love to send or bring you some hemp prepared the way that I do it. Im a huge proponent of cleaning all wicks by the way. Hot USC in vodka should be standard practice imo. I dont like vaping skin oils and whatever was in the fiber factory. Dont know if that might fix the problem. Youd be a guinea pig.

The downside to hemp is you have to be flexible on your coil ID when building tanks. . .and have the patience of Job. Also if you vape coil gunkers like @wvsanta hemp’s longevity if of little value due to longer build and break in time.

Ok, Ill delete if this is off topic. I really like to see people trying new wicks. Cheers.

@anon28032772 thanks for the tag!


Agree with your assessments on the whole. The brake in period is a individual taste evaluation, I liked rayon over my cotton (your cotton may taste better).
For a ton of information about the subject:


Don’t wake up tha Weeze! He may try to convince @eStorm to DIY some tampons with Hemp …wait …Googling Hemp Tampons right now. Okaaaay… now my sidebar Ad feed is gonna be all F’ed up


Similar effect for me with cotton. The more you stuff it, the better it is in the long run, but the worse the break-in period is. The break-in with cotton is very bearable while I get a sickening off taste with rayon.
Everybody has different experiences, just try different options and see what works best for you.


That is exactly why I keep returning to Cotton Bacon V2 and soon I will let everyone know what I think of the new Cotton Bacon Prime.

wicking with hemp is not for me but wicking with rayon is also more time consuming and difficult with trying to get it tight enough.

I re-wick my ADV at least twice a day and with the BACON I can be back to vaping in less than 1 min.

I have tried Hemp, Rayon and many different cottons but have never found anything better or faster then the Cotton Bacon Version 2.

My personal experience with CB V2 has been no break in time at all and as long as I wash my hands before starting no off flavor at all from the very first vape.

I say whatever works for you is what is the best. All any of us can do is share our experiences.


Go ahead, I’m just happy that some found this useful :smile:

Yeah I agree.


What a damn fine read ! :smiley: