Hardware Review: EHPRO Kayfun Lite Clone

Specs

Material:  Stainless Steel (unspecified)
Length: 51.8mm
Diameter:  22mm (23mm with “makrolon” tank section)
Capacity:  4.5ml
Battery Connection:  510
MSRP:  $49.99
What’s in the box:  

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  • (1) KFL Atomizer Clone (with stainless center tank section)
  • (1) “Makrolon” clear tank section (polycarbonate)
  • (1) Kayfun style drip tip
  • (1) Short style drip tip
  • (1) Padded travel/storage box
  • (1) Mini keychain screwdriver
  • (1) Small piece of silica wick
  • (1) small piece of kanthal wire (unspecified gauge)
  • (4) Large o-rings (for the tank sections)
  • (2) Small o-rings (for the 510 drip tip socket)
  • (2) Spare post screws

Pros

  • Relatively low cost.
  • Decent example of a KFL style atomizer.
  • Comes with everything a real KFL comes with.
  • “Standard” 510 drip tip socket.

Cons

  • Extremely difficult to disassemble (very tight tolerances, and o-rings, no texture to grip.
  • Fit and finish is off from the actual KFL by a wide margin.
  • Non adjustable tight draw (relatively speaking).

Errata

I ordered this from eciggity on a lark, having never owned a Kayfun style atomizer. My intent was to decide if I might want to spend the money on a real KFL+, so I ordered the EHPRO KFL+ clone, and they sent the KFL clone. I don’t know what I expected.

This is more of an imitation than a clone, it does not have any of the actual Kayfun markings, but is clearly intended to copy the design.

The flavor on this atomizer is stellar. Unbelievable. I will absolutely be ordering a legit KFL+ (as soon as I can find it in stock somewhere).

The sheer quantity of stuff included in the package is surprising. I did not expect all of that with a clone.

Fit and Finish

You can see in this picture that EHPRO missed the chamfer on the top tank section:

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Everything on this clone is very smooth, which coupled with the very tight fit makes this thing an absolute bear to disassemble. I suppose this is good, as the tank seal is absolutely airtight.

The draw

My only real complaint is that the non adjustable draw on this tank is very much tighter than I like (I prefer an airy draw), but if that is the price for the absolutely wonderful flavor, I am willing to pay it gladly. As I mentioned, I will be buying a legit KFL+ as soon as I can find one in stock, and am hoping that the adjustable airflow will get me closer to where I want to be.

I will note here that I build this with a vertical micro coil centered over the air hole, wrapped with sterile cotton around the outside of the coil.

Minor leaking, occasionally

I’m not gonna mince words here, I experienced leaking from the fill screw on the bottom of the unit. Not every time, not with any reason I could figure out. Sometimes it just leaked. This could be from taking it outside in ~30F temperatures, and then indoors into ~70F temperatures (though it was not consistent), or it could be a design flaw. Not sure. This leak wasn’t terribly bad, it was just annoying.

I did on two occasions experience leaking from the air hole in the side of the unit. I don’t know what that is about. Again, could be from environmental changes, hell it might even be from the way I was drawing on the thing (it is a bottom coil unit, and I was drawing on it pretty hard).

I am hoping that the leaking is just an artifact of it being a clone.

Maintenance

For completeness I am going to talk a wee bit about assembling the Kayfun style atomizers. All things considered, there are quite a number of parts to these things. If you’re not familiar (or not mechanically inclined) you might get into trouble figuring out how to get the thing back together. Here are all of the parts, lined up in assembly order (sorry about the poor lighting):

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This is basically what you want to do after getting the coil built and wicked as you prefer (the first pic shows the atomizer deck with the chimney base attached):

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Chimney base mounted – Click to enlarge

You could fully assemble the chimney, and then mount it on the atomizer deck, but I prefer being able to see the coil and verify that nothing is touching before closing it up.

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Chimney mounted – Click to enlarge

At this point it doesn’t matter which tank section you use, as long as you use either the top or the bottom (no male threads, only the center section has male threads) because those two pieces are threaded the same.

Bottom tank section added - Click to enlarge

Bottom tank section added – Click to enlarge

Middle tank section added (I used the stainless section here) - Click to enlarge

Middle tank section added (I used the stainless section here) – Click to enlarge

Top tank section and top cap added - Click to enlarge

Top tank section and top cap added – Click to enlarge

Conclusion

This clone is debatably worth the $49.99 that I paid for it. It is far from the best Kayfun clone I’ve seen, but it is not bad either. The flavor production is excellent. It did in fact accomplish what I wanted. I have decided to buy a real Kayfun without having to buy a Kayfun and then discovering that I don’t like it, but I can’t say I would recommend this to someone who was planning on using it as a daily driver.

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Getting Started: Building Your First Coil

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You’ve got your RDA, wire, and wick. Now you’re ready to build your first coil.

Safety first. If you build a coil with too little resistance and use it on a device without safeties (like a mechanical APV), you will probably destroy your battery, could destroy your APV, and might get hurt.

  • It is imperative that you test the resistance of your coil before you put power to it.
  • Do the math using Ohm’s Law, and figure out how much current you are going to draw with that coil.
  • Know the limitations of your battery and device.
  • Don’t end up with a Darwin Award, or in the news.

Ok, on to the fun stuff!

Material choices

Essentially you need two things to build a coil:

  • Wick material
  • Coil material

There are something like a dozen different materials that can be used for both the wick and the wire, each having its merits and drawbacks. For someone who has never built a coil, the material selection alone can be a stopping point.

Wick Material

Some of the more common materials used for wick include:

  • Silica (this is essentially quartz that is spun long and twisted together into various diameter cords).
  • Ekowool (this is a specific brand of silica that is braided rather than twisted, so it frays less).
  • Cotton (many use undyed, unbleached  100% cotton yarn or cotton balls – cotton must be boiled and washed thoroughly before use unless it is marked as sterile).
  • Stainless steel mesh (this is very finely woven stainless steel thread, ideally raw 316L stainless, in #325, #400, or #500 – this number denotes the number of threads per inch in the mesh).
  • Stainless steel cable (with cable it is vital that only raw stainless steel is used, do not use galvanized stainless steel for anything vaping related).

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of these materials.

Silica

silica

Plain twisted silica cord is some of the cheapest and most readily available wick material. Silica is glass, so a torch will not ignite it (at least not a hobby torch), and it takes a while to even get to the point where it glows. Twisted silica also tends to fray very quickly and can be difficult to thread into coils.

Some people have health concerns with silica, as there are links to lung problems and the inhalation of small quantities of silica. There have been no studies of this in relation to vaping, but if you wash your wicks and rinse your deck after building a coil it should not be an issue.

Ekowool

ekowool

Ekowool improves on twisted silica by using braided construction. This makes it much more resistant to fraying, and (in my opinion) better at wicking. The primary drawback is price; Ekowool is about ten times as expensive as plain twisted silica.

Ekowool comes in two varieties, hollow braid, and hollow braid with internal strands. The hollow braids tend to flatten out, which can make getting good contact with the coil difficult in some configurations (though it is not terribly difficult to achieve).

In theory the braided construction of Ekowool should also reduce the possibilities of small silica particles breaking off of the wick and being inhaled (not that this is very likely to begin with).

Cotton

cotton

Cotton is used primarily because it is cheap, but it also gives excellent flavor. The major drawback of cotton is that it is flammable. When using cotton wicks you must take great care to avoid letting the wick go dry, as it will burn almost instantly if not saturated, and once burned, must be replaced (unless you like a horrid burnt taste in your vape).

Stainless steel mesh

ss mesh

Stainless steel mesh is primarily used in Genesis style RBAs (which are beyond the scope of this post), but is sometimes used in RDAs and recoiling protank heads. Stainless steel mesh is quite expensive (as much as $20 for a 2″x6″ piece in some places. It also lasts a really long time and is fairly easy to reuse. Some vape shops and websites sell these as pre rolled wicks for a bit less than sheets or swatches.

The primary concern with using stainless steel mesh as a wick material is that it is raw stainless steel, not galvanized or coated in any way. Aside from buying this from vape specific stores or websites, this material can often be found in (or ordered from) specialty hardware stores. It is mostly used in filtration products.

An interesting thing to note is that the coarser weave mesh (like #325 mesh) will wick better than the finer weave material (like #500 mesh).

The really frustrating part of working with SS mesh is that it is conductive, and must be oxidized very well to prevent shorts. Even with thorough oxidizing (repeated torching and quenching), it is quite easy to scratch the oxidation off and the result is hot spots and shorts.

I do not recommend working with stainless steel mesh or cable for those new to coils.

Stainless steel cable

SSCable

As with Stainless steel mesh, ensuring that the material is raw stainless steel is the primary concern.

Stainless steel cable is most commonly used in Genesis style RBAs, though I have seen some use it in RDAs. I personally find it to be terribly difficult to work with in RDAs. It frays rather easily, and does not do a great job of holding juice (though it can wick very well in vertical wick applications as found in Genesis style RBAs).

As with SS mesh, SS cable is conductive and must be thoroughly oxidized before use, is easy to develop shorts and hot spots, and sometimes frustrating to work with.

These are by no means the only wick materials used in vaping, and the choice of wick material is largely based on individual preference. I like to use Ekowool if using silica, as I personally feel that it is both the least problematic to wrap with, and also provides very good flavor while minimizing the risks and frustrations of silica wick.

Currently I am favoring cotton, and will generally recommend it over any other type of wick.

Wire material

Common wire material used includes:

  • Kanthal A1 resistance wire
  • Kanthal A resistance wire
  • Nichrome resistance wire
  • Ribbon Kanthal
  • Bakero wire
ResistanceWire

Ribbon and standard resistance wire – click to enlarge

Kanthal wire has become the standard for vaping, due primarily to its cost and high heat tolerance. Kanthal A1 coils will outlast nichrome coils by a wide margin.

Bakero wire is relatively new to the vaping scene, and is not yet widely available (it’s also ridiculously expensive), but there are people who swear that it is the absolute best wire for coil building in the history of vaping. I have not used it, but the videos I have seen of it in action keep me from dismissing it on price alone. Maybe one day I will find a vendor that sells it in sample sizes and give it a try.

The only factor other than personal preference in determining coil material is the space available on the RDA/RBA, and whether the posts have holes in them. I personally like ribbon kanthal, but it is incredibly difficult to use on an RDA without post holes (like the IGO-L). Some of the smaller atomizers (like the AGT) require using wire with a higher resistance (I wouldn’t want to try to wrap on an AGT with 28g kanthal).

I strongly urge those new to rebuilding to buy a variety of wire sizes to determine what is best for them.

Basic 4/3 (or 5/4) wrap coil

Before we get started here, just know up front that the first coil you wrap is probably not going to work out. Mine didn’t. My first mistake was in not using enough wire, so the coil did not provide enough resistance to fire on my APV (I was using a regulated APV at the time, because I didn’t want to accidentally “discover” what sub ohm vaping was like on my first attempt.

Just figure that the first couple coils are not going to work out, but they are good practice, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you nail it on your first attempt.

You’ll hear people refer to a coil as a 3/2 wrap, or a 4/3 wrap. This is nothing more complicated than a count of the loops in the coil. If you look at the picture at the very top of this post, that is a drawing of a 4/3 wrap. There are four loops on one side, and three on the other. So a 5/4 wrap would have one more loop in the coil. Nothing earth shattering, but it can be confusing if you’ve never had it explained.

First you have to decide what size wick and wire you’re going to use. This post could easily get out of hand with all the different possibilities, so I am going to just make arbitrary choices and tell you why I am doing everything here.

For this example I am going to use 30g Kanthal A-1 wrapped on 2mm Ekowool wick in a 4/3 wrap, mounting on an IGO-L. All of those choices are arbitrary, I simply had large quantities of those materials laying around.

First you need to decide how you want the wick to sit in the RDA. You can get away with just a short length of wick that is not much longer than the coil (shown in the first picture below, ignore the ribbon kanthal), but I like to leave one side a little long to hold a bit more juice as shown in the second picture.

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Actually wrapping the coil

Here are the raw materials of our coil:

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That is approximately 6 inches of 30g Kanthal, and about 2.5 inches of 2mm Ekowool.

Both the wire and the wick should be thoroughly torched to remove any residue from the manufacturing process before proceeding. Torching (with a butane torch, not a bic lighter), will make the wire a bit less “springy”, allowing it to hold its shape better. It will also make the Ekowool tighten up and stiffen a bit. Be aware that both of these materials conduct heat very well, and should be held with pliers during the torching.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In the picture above, you’ll notice that the cut on the left side of the wick is much cleaner. I cut both sides of the wick with the same snips, the one on the right was done before torching. If you enlarge that picture, you’ll notice some white flecks sitting next to the freshly trimmed side of the wick. This is powdered Ekowool. You do not want to be breathing this stuff, which is why it is important to thoroughly rinse your wick after mounting it to the atomizer deck.

There are basically two ways you can wrap the coil:

  • Wrap around the wick
  • Wrap the coil around a tool and thread the wick in afterwards

I prefer the second method in most cases (though in some cases it is not practical to do it that way). The even sizes of Ekowool are one of those exceptions. Ekowool is a hollow sheath, and in the odd sizes, it is filled with strands of silica wick (or cotton in some cases). When wrapping the even sizes (like the 2mm I am using here), it is simply easier to wrap directly around the wick (unless you are going to double the wick over) because the wick tends to flatten out.

This is personal preference. I find it easier to wrap around something else, mount the coil on the atomizer, and then thread the wick in.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to choke the wick with the coil. You want to allow the wick enough room to draw the juice in to the coil, but still be touching the coil.

Regardless of where you choose to wrap the coil, there are two methods for wrapping a coil:

  • Freehand
  • Use a tool

I prefer to use a tool to wrap coils (something small and rigid to keep the coil straight), as it requires less dexterity to get a decent coil, and can help with mounting the coil to the posts.

Here is a picture of my freehand 4/3 wrap of 30g Kanthal on a piece of 2mm Ekowool:

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Mounting the coil on the atomizer deck

If you wrapped around a tool, don’t remove the tool before you mount the coil to the atomizer. The tool will stabilize the coil during the mounting process. In this case, I did not use a tool, so I just need to be careful not to deform the coil or bend it.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In this image you can see that I have the coil mounted to the atomizer deck. Because I have done this a time or two, I know that there is something not right here, because this coil should be slightly higher in resistance. I will tighten down the screws a bit, clip the coil legs to size, and adjust the coils a bit and check again.

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Better. Now If I were planning to use this coil (I’m going to rewrap this with a micro coil and cotton build momentarily), I’d want to get the wick adjusted and test it again before firing it. Since this coil is history in a minute, we’ll call it good and fire it on a mod to see how it heats up.

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Not a great photo, but you can see that the coils are glowing evenly, and the glow started from the middle of the coil and moved out to the edge.

I always “pulse” the coil a few times (don’t do this with cotton wicks) to ensure it is not going to pop or short. Pulsing is nothing more than firing the mod rapidly until the coils glow brightly with no juice in the wick.

Things to look out for

  • Make sure the coil is not touching the top cap, posts (other than where it is fastened),  or deck of the RDA.
  • Make sure there are no coils touching.
  • If you make the legs of the coil too long where they attach to the posts, you will develop a “hot leg” (where the coil gets hot fastest, is not cooled by the juice in the wick, and will likely break first).
  • You can adjust the coils with a flat tip screwdriver or a toothpick if they are touching or too close together.
  • If you are building with the atomizer deck on a device, make sure that the device is off or locked before you proceed. Coil burns are not fun.

Measuring resistance on an RDA

I cannot state this enough: you must check the resistance of your coils before firing them on a device. It is all too easy to short an atomizer and damage your device. Resistance checkers designed specifically for vaping (such as the one seen throughout this post) are relatively cheap (the run about $20 pretty much anywhere), and can save you lots of grief (and prevent the possible destruction of your device).

If all you have is a multimeter, I highly suggest that you buy a pre-wired 510 connection. You can then attach some aligator clips to the pre-wired connection and use those to clip to your multimeter leads.

Why would you go to that trouble when you could just touch the multimeter leads to the atomizer’s 510 connection? Because it’s not as easy as it sounds and requires very steady hands (not to mention a fair bit of dexterity) to get any kind of accurate measurement from a 510 connection using just multimeter probes.

So there you have it. You’ve built your first coil. Now you can try out all the different combinations of wick and wire (not to mention all the different kinds of coils), until you find something that is right for you.

Good luck!

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Getting Started: Rebuilding a ProTank atomizer

When I initially set out to write this post, I had intended on building a basic coil on an IGO-L, but figured that while I was at it, I’d rebuild a ProTank atomizer or two with cotton wicks for my On The Go Kit. While doing that, I was on the phone with a friend, and we got to talking about the number of tanks that use a ProTank atomizer. I figured I’d be doing all of the people using those a disservice if I didn’t make a post that covers how to rebuild one. As a bonus, this particular build is both fairly easy (though as depicted does require some special tools, which you should have anyway), and produces one of the best Vapes that I’ve ever had. So, let’s build!

Supplies (Click to enlarge)

Supplies (Click to enlarge)

I’m using 30g Kanthal A1 (because I want a coil that is between 1.7 and 2.4 ohms), CVS sterile rolled cotton, an original ProTank, an 18g blunt tip syringe, and a generic ohm meter (if you don’t have one of these, I highly recommend picking one up, they are rather inexpensive, like $20, and very convenient). Not shown is a butane torch (I don’t know why I left that out of the photo).

Disassembled atomizer (Click to enlarge)

Disassembled atomizer (Click to enlarge)

Pull the atomizer apart (pop the chimney off, and then remove the positive pin, and everything should just pull apart), and discard the old coil/wicks. Rinse and clean the parts that you are keeping in preparation for the new build (I usually just wipe them down real good).

Nothing terribly over complicated here. First torch the kanthal until it glows to both clean it, and to remove some of the springiness to make wrapping easier. I start with a 6-8″ piece of wire. You can always cut it shorter, it’s real hard to get it longer once cut. I leave 1.5-2″ legs at this stage (better too long than too short), and just wrap around the 18g blunt tip needle between 8 and 12 times depending on the resistance I want to end up with.

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You can see here that I’ve done a 9/8 wrap. This should get me between 1.7 and 1.8ohms on the final coil. Next you want to compress the coil at one end and hold it there for a few seconds. This makes it much easier to get it compressed in the pliers later.

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Now we need to torch the coil to get it to retain its shape. Slide it off of the needle, and carefully grip it in some pliers. I hold the hottest part of the torch flame on the coil for a solid ten seconds once I get it in the pliers straight:

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Here is where this pays off, put the coil back onto the needle, and mount it into the atomizer base, as shown below:

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This makes mounting coils on these atomizers a cinch. The needle is thin enough that it places the coil at the bottom of the channel in the sides of the atomizer base. This is the perfect position. Get the coil centered and put the insulator ring and positive pin back in place (remember that one leg of the coil goes inside the insulator ring, and the other goes between the insulator ring and the atomizer base).

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

As you can see from the image above, I don’t push the positive pin all the way in. I leave it sticking out enough that it can be seated correctly once the atomizer is installed in the tank base. At this point I will twist off the excess coil leg lengths, so that the they are flush with the base. You can clip them off, but I find that a little spin and wiggle will break them off more cleanly. Make sure the coil is centered in the split, and not touching the sides of the atomizer base, and remove the needle.

Centered coil (Click to enlarge)

Centered coil (Click to enlarge)

Let’s test it out real quick:

Perfect!

Perfect!

Now we need wick! Here is how much cotton I will need (this is actually a bit more than I’ll need):

IMG_0878

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You can see that it doesn’t take much at all. I’ll tell you now, you should go wash your hands with a non scented soap. I use sterile cotton and I can taste the difference in my wicks when I do wash my hands at this point and when I don’t. Once you are ready, tear about half of that cotton off lengthwise, and roll it into a wick shape that will fit inside the coil you mounted. You don’t need terribly much cotton here.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Again you can see that it doesn’t take much. Once you have the wick twisted, you just slide it into the coil. I find it helpful to clip off the very tip of the wick, and spin it as you insert it, so that it slides in easier. Once mounted, clip both sides off flush with the outside edge of the atomizer base like so:

First wick trimmed

First wick trimmed

I then use the rest of the cotton as a “flavor” wick. This does a couple of things; it keeps the coil wetter, it prevents hot juice popping into your mouth, and creates a better seal in the tank. I make the wick tails long on purpose, like so:

Second wick added

Second wick added

Now we need to prime the wicks. Cotton’s one drawback is that it burns rather easily. make sure you get it wet, and keep it wet. Burned cotton is nasty.

Prime the wicks

Prime the wicks

Reassemble the atomizer, and tuck the wick tails into the atomizer base.

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Click to enlarge

Make sure that your top wick is not too dense, as you want juice to easily flow through it, but it should provide some barrier to juice just pouring into the atomizer. Let’s test it one more time and fill her up!

No changes is a good thing!

No changes is a good thing!

Now we can fill and prime the atomizer. Once the tank is full you need to either let it sit for about five minutes, or give it a few long draws to get all the air out of the wicks and ensure they are saturated with juice.

Let the air out (Click to enlarge)

Let the air out (Click to enlarge)

That’s it, this should now be ready to vape.

Delicious vapor!

Delicious vapor!

I personally think that this is the apex build for ProTank atomizers. It is flavorful, and easy enough to build.

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Why I like cotton wick

Dude, you think wicks grow on trees?

Dude, you think wicks grow on trees?

I could tell you that have not entirely unfounded health concerns about vaping on silica wick, or that I have even more concern about the materials being sold as silica wick. Or that I’m pretty sure micro particles of chromium steel coming off of stainless steel mesh wicks are not healthy to inhale, nor are carbon particles from the oxidized wicks, or the iron oxide that will inevitably form from the steel sitting in the juice.

I smoked a pack a day plus for twenty years while knowing that I was basically playing Russian roulette with my health, so clearly I’m not scared of a little bit of potential health risk.

But that ain’t the truth.

The truth is, I’m lazy. And cheap.

Cotton as a wick material has many advantages. It’s cheap, readily available, produces a thick flavorful vapor, and hasn’t been shown to be harmful when inhaled in any manner. The extremely high likelihood that it is also safer than the alternatives is not a bad bonus either.

It does burn rather easily, but that is a trade off I’m willing to make.

I see lots of different products recommended as sources of cotton, but many are unquestionably dirty, and some are of questionable composition.

Enter sterile rolled cotton. For like six bucks I buy 4 ounces of sterile rolled cotton (cheap, check) that is sterile (so it’s clean and thoroughly tested for medical applications), so I can use it right out of the package without having to boil and dry it (lazy, check).

It also produces the best vape I’ve ever had. For some unknown reason, I can actually taste silica wick in my vape. With cotton I taste nothing but delicious vapor.

The best part is that if I run out, I can find it in any pharmacy for just a few dollars.

If you haven’t tried cotton wick, I highly recommend it.

Now, if I could just find a cheap local source for resistance wire…

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