To increase the longevity and continued safe use of your equipment, we have created the following equipment maintenance guidelines. Feel free to email us at info@Dark-Monk.com with additional things that you have observed.
1. Inspect your equipment, frequently. It is a good safety practice to conduct a general equipment inspection before each burn. Pay specific attention to items that could come loose (e.g. quicklinks) or have seen signs of past wear. Between events, a more thorough inspection of your equipment should be conducted in a well lit location. Each equipment type requires different items to be inspected, but here are some general guidelines: Start with the wicks, and closely inspect all attachment hardware (e.g. rivets, screws, etc.) to confirm they are secure. Cut away any small wicking strands that have come loose, and use kevlar thread to stitch the wicks together if needed. Next, check all hardware attachment points such as quicklinks, split rings for chain, swivels, and rope knots for signs of loosening, wear, and degradation. Lastly, inspect things like grips, chain, and decorative pieces. If you notice a piece of hardware not behaving or appearing as it should, repair or replace it immediately. This includes (but is not limited to) rusting, fraying, bending, not screwing/unscrewing fully, cracks, tears, and breaks. Frequent equipment inspection is your best defense against equipment malfunction.
2. Keep your equipment away from moisture and prolonged direct sunlight. Do not leave them out in the rain, on damp ground, in highly humid areas, or in direct sunlight. Both Kevlar and fiberglass (the main components in fire equipment wicks) will degrade in these conditions. Many equipment manufacturers will use nickel plated steel hardware components, which are susceptible to rusting (Dark Monk primarily uses stainless steel). Wet equipment should be allowed to thoroughly dry prior to putting them in bags or non-ventilated areas. Do not dry equipment in direct sunlight.
3. Cover your wicks when practicing. This is particularly important for props in which the wicks frequently hit the ground, such as staves and rope darts. As a quick and cheap solution, thick socks can function as wick covers. (Those old holey winter socks may be perfect, depending on the hole locations).
4. Manicure your wicks. If you notice a loose strand of wicking sticking out from the rest of the wick, cut it off with scissors. This prevents it from being pulled and further unraveling your wicking. If you notice a part of your wick is fraying, you can either sew them back together with kevlar thread or in some instances you can smear white glue (e.g. Elmer’s School Glue -- but only white glue, not epoxy or other types) on the fraying location to prevent further unraveling.
5. Store equipment properly. Store equipment in a dry, well-ventilated location out of direct sunlight, where wicks will not rub against other objects, grips will not be around dust and dirt, and metal parts will not be bent.
6. Fuel equipment carefully. It is easy to accidentally drip and splash fuel on grips and handles, which can become irreparably damaged if caught on fire.
7. Optional - Put out your wicks. The Kevlar in wicks starts to degrade between 800-900 degrees fahrenheit. The longer wicks burn, the more the wicking heats up due to heat transferred from the flame. Our tests show that a typical “white gas” / Coleman’s Liquid Camp Fuel-based burn starts to degrade the wicks after about 4 minutes. This varies greatly based on the size of the flame, wick size, and fuel type. However, if you can put your wicks out prior to the very end of the burn, overall they will last a little longer. We won't judge you if you choose to burn them until the very last possible moment (we certainly do that ourselves).
For more information about Kevlar wicking, see our article The Science Behind Kevlar Wicks.