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I've got an optimus nova stove and there is a round 'wick' under the burner that gets fuel on it when you start the stove. What is this material?

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I don't understand this question? What is it? It's gauze..Do you mean what is it made of where can you get one or what? –  Liam Mar 24 at 17:46
    
what is the material. E.g. the material, what is it? –  Andrew Welch Mar 24 at 17:54
    
@Liam Yes, I would like to get one,- its a very simple item so I thought I could make one with the right material. Trangia only provide a full kit for this. –  Andrew Welch Mar 25 at 9:50
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Yep, you can make these. You need to be careful to use 100% cotton, do not use anything containing polyester or else it'll melt and knacker your stove. Anything you use to make this test first, burn it, it should char but not melt, melting bad. –  Liam Mar 25 at 9:56
    
@Liam You sure about that cotton? Yes polyester melts (and then eventually burns too), but cotton burns for sure. –  manoftheson Mar 27 at 3:40

2 Answers 2

The priming wick on multi-fuel stoves is usually made of fiberglass material, and provides more surface area which makes harder to light fuels easier to ignite.

Multi-fuel stoves (such as the one you mention, or the Whisperlight International) are able to burn a wide range of fuels -- some of which are not very volatile. For example, diesel fuel, and kerosene do not burn very well in puddle form, while white gas (standard stove fuel) ignites very readily and burns quite well in puddle form. (White-gas only stoves usually don't have a wick.)

So, to help get less volatile fuels started (and thus heat up the stove) the wick provides a larger surface area that the fuel saturates and evaporates off of, making it easier to light.


  • Burning other fuels is dirtier (more soot, and lots of fun cleansers and additives that gunk things up) but the weak point that will get clogged is the jet at the end of the fuel line, not the fuel cup at the bottom.
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Although a nice answer. It doesn't answer my question of what the material is. –  Andrew Welch Mar 28 at 9:30
    
Hmmm... so it doesn't. Updated. –  LBell Mar 28 at 10:33
    
Can you give any evidence that its usually made of fibreglass? –  Andrew Welch Mar 28 at 12:08

As seen in the photos of the repair kits below, the wick is the fabric-like material which is made of fiberglass. It doesn't burn but does eventually degrade when exposed to the high heat of a stove.

A simple replacement wick could potentially be fashioned out of nearly any fiberglass insulation such as that used in home construction. Furnace filters are often made of fiberglass filter media. It is also often used (usually bonded with other materials) as thermal insulation in automobiles to isolate the engine and exhaust heat from the cabin of the vehicle. If used from one of these type of sources, make sure the fiberglass itself is free of any other combustible materials or glues. These are simply a few applications where fiberglass insulation is used as it has become quite a ubiquitous material.

Another possible source is the wick from a lantern. Even with different fuel types, most lanterns I've ever seen use fiberglass for the wick. However there are so many lantern types and brands out there that you'd need to research the exact type for yourself. But the main thing is to make sure that it's made of fiberglass or other fire-retardant material.

This page has some good information on wick material. It mentions Kevlar and Nomex as some viable, though more costly alternatives to fiberglass. Cotton is mentioned but isn't a good material for this application as it will burn up and soot up the stove.

Optimus Nova Repair Kit: Optimus Nova repair kit

MSR Whisperlite Repair Kit:

While the MSR wick is a different shape and design (the little beige sleeve), it still serves the same purpose and is the same material. Whisperlite Repair Kit

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Please feel free to add in sources for fiberglass insulation/wick other than the ones I listed. This stuff is used everywhere so I wasn't about to attempt to include them all. –  manoftheson Mar 27 at 4:22
    
What about Silica - this is a material that appears to be used for wick. My dad said he used to use cotton wool to light a blow torch. –  Andrew Welch Mar 28 at 9:21
    
Apparently Fibreglass won't do this job as it won't soak up the fuel. –  Andrew Welch Mar 28 at 9:30
    
Fiberglass is just glass fibers and glass is made of silica so...yeah. –  manoftheson Mar 28 at 20:15
    
@AndrewWelch - Also check out this site: firesleeveandtape.com –  manoftheson Mar 28 at 21:35

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