Since ancient times, asbestos has been used for its unique fire resistant properties. Prized for this, its use escalated after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It was around this time that it began to be used for a large number of practical and commercial applications. Asbestos was used to make a wide array of products used as building materials such as roofing tiles, insulation, and piping.
Asbestos wick is a material that could previously be found in various products. It is composed of anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent asbestos mineral. The exact concentration of asbestos in a particular variety of wick depended on what it was intended to be used for. It was originally produced for a wide variety of different industrial, commercial, and home applications. This type of wick was so widely used because of the natural fire resistant properties that the presence of the asbestos provided.
It was used in the manufacturing of several different building materials that served as insulation for pipes. This wick was also made into coverings for boilers and furnaces as well as other heat producing machinery and equipment. Asbestos wick could also be made into yarn and ropes that could then be used in the making of other fire resistant products. It was even used in some kerosene heaters.
Asbestos wick was generally quite safe unless it became frayed or broken. However, it was often necessary for people who were working with the wick to cut it to fit the proper shape. This meant that they were often exposed to breathing the harmful dust that fills the air when asbestos fibers break away from the material in which they are contained. Another danger that the wick poses is that it tends break down as it decomposes with age. This also makes it possible for asbestos fibers to become airborne and potentially inhaled.