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"Scientific" Test of Water Wicking Materials  RSS feed

 
Posts: 55
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For those of your building any system that uses wicking materials, I have learned quite a bit of experimentation.

Frankly, cotton goes rotten pretty fast.  If you are just starting seeds in a plastic bottle for the near time, an old towel will work.  But after about two weeks, it starts to degrade and it can start to stink.  Also, your seeds roots will actually interlace with the cotton.  That's ok, if they are going into the ground, just plant it with them.  But if you are going past two or three weeks, be aware of the rotting potentials. 

I am building a vertical growing system and need a good water wicking material.  That's where I learned that cotton just does not cut it.

Now to my pseudo-scientific tests of water wicking materials.

Hanging two equal lengths of rope, one composed of poly rope, the other of nylon, I was shocked by the results.  The diameters were 1\2 inch.  The poly rope is a much more "plasticky" rope than the nylon, much rougher too.  It barely wicked any moisture whatsoever.  Byt the nylon acted like it had a pair of lips and a straw!  Wow, I mean I was shocked. 

Maybe I missed something?  Maybe I bought the wrong kind of poly rope?

Right now am I checking the nylon rope, having given up on the poly rope I bought for the test.  Poly rope floats by the way, the nylon sinks, so there appears to be an advantage to nylon all the way round.

Nylon rope is the more expensive of the two, but the dramatically better water wicking ability means you could use thinner diameter rope and save money. 

I want to try parachute cord and rayon, but I don't seem to be able to find that in the hardware store. 

Has anybody else used any of these materials or any others for water wicking? If I can get some of it, I will make a better, more controlled experiment, but at this point, Nylon is THE benchmark for water wicking!   
  
 
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Most nylon rope has a long, loose fiber core (the wick) and a braided outer sheath, the core is what sucks up the liquid and draws it through capillary action, it will do the same with motor oil or any other liquid.

Other rope materials will not perform this function because they are either twisted or braid only, there is nothing that enables them to use capillary action.

Parachute (550 cord) cord is 7 to 9 twised nylon cords in a braided nylon sheath, designed to take sharp jerks of a parachute opening and stopping the fall of an object.  It will not "wick" as well as the nylon cordage above.

Redhawk
 
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I've seen some cool wicking done with above ground containers feeding the roots of trees.
These set ups used nylon rope inside plastic hose.
 
Jeffrey Rush
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Thank you Bryant,

I am in the final season of building a three dimensional gardening\farming system for use in a broad range of environments.  Everything from backyards and porches, to growers and farmers.  As such, I want to remove the need for a pump in the system, if possible.  Finding a material that's absorbent and resistant to rot, has proved a challenge.

I tried cotton.  Worked great for about a month- then the system started to smell like a toilet, lol.  Cotton is edible by bacteria it seems.

If you have any other ideas about materials, please do reply with them.  This system is in the final trial stages this Spring and Summer.  As such, I need to make a decision about wicking materials soon, so I can test them in the system.  So far, nylon rope is the clear winner.  However, its biggest drawback is expense.  Was hoping the cheaper poly rope would do.

I hate to toot my own horn, but since I know more about this system than anyone else, here goes.  Frankly, this device could finally take vertical growing from an interesting concept engaged in predominantly by hobbyist and certain avant garde types, to a practical and truly useful system- available to rich and poor alike. 

Because of that, I need all the help I can get.  I hope to work with Mr. Wheaton to offer the first few production units to people on the site, but that's a bit down the line.  But I do know this could change the world.  Any help offered is sincerely appreciated.

Thanks for the insight.

JR

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Most nylon rope has a long, loose fiber core (the wick) and a braided outer sheath, the core is what sucks up the liquid and draws it through capillary action, it will do the same with motor oil or any other liquid.

Other rope materials will not perform this function because they are either twisted or braid only, there is nothing that enables them to use capillary action.

Parachute (550 cord) cord is 7 to 9 twised nylon cords in a braided nylon sheath, designed to take sharp jerks of a parachute opening and stopping the fall of an object.  It will not "wick" as well as the nylon cordage above.

Redhawk

 
Jeffrey Rush
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William,

Thanks for the reply. If you know of any other types of wicking materials, please do reply.

Thanks!

JR

William Bronson wrote: I've seen some cool wicking done with above ground containers feeding the roots of trees.
These set ups used nylon rope inside plastic hose.

 
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