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Advice Lighters

No matter your preferred method of smoking you are not going to get far without a reliable lighter. There are many factors that affect a lighters suitability and reliability. They also go wrong from time to time, the following pages are designed to help you choose and maintain your lighter.

WHAT IS THE BEST LIGHTER FOR A PIPE SMOKER

Overall

Almost any lighter can be used to light a pipe but due to the angle the lighter is held at it is easy to burn your fingers.

A specific pipe lighter will have an offset flame at between 30 and 90 degrees and tends to be bigger so they can hold more gas.

Pipe lighters are also available with built in pipe tools and tampers built in for convenience.

However the first thing that should be considered above anything else is Reliability followed by functional ability. Although some flames are better suited to lighting a pipe, essentially a pipe can be lit with any flame. Pipe smokers give their pipes more hammer than any other smoker so a Pipe Lighter must be robust.

Fuel

In general Pipe lighters can either be fuelled by Gas or Lighter Petrol/Fluid. Generally either can be used to light a pipe but there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Petrol Pipe lighters

Petrol is stored in a chamber often soaked into wadding to prevent it from evaporating. A wick (absorbent string) is dipped into the chamber, which soaks up the fuel, when the fuel reaches the air around the wick it evaporates giving off a flammable vapour, which once ignited gives a steady reliable flame.

Petrol lighters are a simple concept and are by far the most reliable. Whether it’s been dropped in water or chucked across the room you can always clean it, refill it and 99% of the time it will work again. However it is well documented that the petrol, especially cheap petrol will taint the flavour of the smoke. As pipe smokers tend to be very accustomed to the flavours present in their tobacco any new introductions can be met with disappointment. However saying this the Zippo pipe lighter is still very popular due to its reliability.

It should also be considered that if you are not a regular smoker the lighter fluid eventually evaporates meaning it will need re-filling when you come to use it. This generally doesn't apply to pipe smokers as they probably use a lighter more than any smoker.

Gas Pipe lighters

Gas is stored in a chamber under pressure. As the valve is opened the gas is forced out under pressure, giving a steady stream of flammable gas, that once ignited gives a constant flame until the valve is shut.

Gas lighters are very clean burning and the gas cannot escape like it does with a petrol lighter. The Butane gas will not affect the smoke. However there are more functional parts on a gas lighter, which increases the chances of it developing a fault. Gas lighters need two valves and the ability to adjust the valve opening for the flame size. This increases the chance of a mechanical failure and if the lighter is left for years un-used, the rubber seals around the valves perish causing the gas to leak out.

It should however be noted that over the years Gas lighters have become more reliable so this isn't as big an issue as it was in the past.

Flame

Classic flame

The classic yellow flame seen on petrol and gas lighters, that is generally not windproof. This flame is more reliable and can be made more resilient to the wind by the use of a chimney as with the Zippo lighter.

  • Turbo/Jet/windproof: (NOT SUITABLE FOR PIPES!)
  • The turbo flame does not work upside down!
  • Introduced in the 90's this flame design comes in bright blue, Green, Orange or yellow. The gas is forced over an element under pressure, which produces a blow torch style flame, which is windproof. As with any new technology this style of flame can be more temperamental but it wind resistance out weighs the reliability issue for most people. Over the last decade this flame style has been developed and is slowly becoming more reliable.

Ignition

Flint Pipe Lighters

Lighters can be ignited by a flint and wheel, which when rubbed together will cause a shower of sparks directed over the source of fuel. The flint ignition is the most reliable source of ignition and we would strongly recommend a flint lighter over any other ignition for this reason. However flint lighters have lost popularity over the years as many smokers find changing the flint a nuisance and as time passes us by, the thumbs loose the ability to effectively spin the wheel.

STOP BEING LAZY A FLINT LIGHTER IS FAR BETTER THAN A GAS LIGHTER!! However if you thumbs are seizing up we will let you off for looking at alternatives!

Battery Pipe Lighters

Battery operated lighters are the second most reliable source of ignition. A battery is used to generate a spark over the source of fuel, they are very reliable but a nuisance when the battery charge dies un-expectantly and if not used regularly as with many battery operated products the battery can leak acid, which permanently damages the lighter (Please note this is rare and generally only if you leave the lighter un-used for many months.) Battery operated lighters where nearly obsolete but a fresh wave of battery operated lighters are coming onto the market due to the increasing frustration with Piezo lighters.

Piezo Pipe Lighters

Piezo lighters use a Piezo crystal, which when striked causes a spark in the same way your cooker ignites. The Piezo lighter has become very popular due to the lack of maintenance required. This is a great concept however, they can be temperamental. If they get wet they can be permanently damaged. Another problem is the reliability of the spark. If a build up of dust/tobacco gets in the ignition chamber the spark can arc onto the dust rather than across the source of fuel.

If carefully cared for a Piezo lighter can prove a reliable lighter but if you are not the sort to care for your lighter we recommend a flint or battery lighter.

Aesthetics and usability

Now hopefully we’ve persuaded you to buy a flint, petrol, Pipe lighter or at least a flint, gas, pipe lighter. Now aesthetics and functionality come into play. Aesthetics is generally a personal thing but there are other factors to take into consideration.

Finish

A painted finish may scratch over time and affect the look of the lighter. As most of us store a lighter next to our car keys in the pocket, they are generally susceptible to scratching and therefore the finish of a lighter is rarely under warranty. A chrome finish or bare metal is generally a better option if you are likely to abuse your lighter. Alternatively consider looking for a lighter case or storing it in your tobacco pouch.

Valve Cap

The Ignition and valve is the most delicate part of the lighter. Although it tends to make the lighter more bulky we recommend a lighter with a valve cap to prevent dust clogging the valve or making the spark arc away from the valve.

WHAT IS THE BEST LIGHTER FOR A CIGARETTE SMOKER?

Overall

Almost any lighter with any flame or ignition can be used to light a cigarette. Read the following for the advantages and disadvantages of the various flames, ignition and designs available.

Fuel

In general Pipe lighters can either be fuelled by Gas or Lighter Petrol/Fluid. Generally either can be used to light a pipe but there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Petrol Cigarette lighters

Petrol is stored in a chamber often soaked into wadding to prevent it from evaporating. A wick (absorbent string) is dipped into the chamber, which soaks up the fuel, when the fuel reaches the air around the wick it evaporates giving off a flammable vapour, which once ignited gives a steady reliable flame.

Petrol lighters are a simple concept and are by far the most reliable. Whether it’s been dropped in water or chucked across the room you can always clean it, refill it and 99% of the time it will work again. However it is noted that the petrol, especially cheap petrol will taint the flavour of the first draw. Although unlike pipe/cigar smoking it is unlikely to affect the flavour of the cigarette throughout.

If you are not a regular smoker the lighter fluid in a petrol lighter will eventually evaporate meaning it may need re-filling when you come to use it.

Gas Cigarette lighters

Gas is stored in a chamber under pressure. As the valve is opened the gas is forced out under pressure, giving a steady stream of flammable gas, that once ignited gives a constant flame until the valve is shut.

Gas lighters are very clean burning and the gas cannot escape like it does with a petrol lighter. The Butane gas will not affect the smoke. However there are more functional parts on a gas lighter, which increases the chances of it developing a fault. Gas lighters need two valves and the ability to adjust the valve opening for the flame size. This increases the chance of a mechanical failure and if the lighter is left for years un-used, the rubber seals around the valves perish causing the gas to leak out.

It should however be noted that over the years Gas lighters have become more reliable so this isn't as big an issue as it was in the past.

Flame

Classic flame

The classic yellow flame seen on petrol and gas lighters, that is generally not windproof. This flame is more reliable and can be made more resilient to the wind by the use of a chimney as with the Zippo lighter.

Turbo/Jet/windproof

Introduced in the 90's this flame design comes in bright blue, Green, Orange or yellow. The gas is forced over an element under pressure, which produces a blow torch style flame, which is windproof. As with any new technology this style of flame can be more temperamental but it wind resistance out weighs the reliability issue for most people. Over the last decade this flame style has been developed and is slowly becoming more reliable.

Ignition

Flint Cigarette Lighters

Lighters can be ignited by a flint and wheel, which when rubbed together will cause a shower of sparks directed over the source of fuel. The flint ignition is the most reliable source of ignition and we would strongly recommend a flint lighter over any other ignition for this reason. However flint lighters have lost popularity over the years as many smokers find changing the flint a nuisance and in our latter years, the thumbs loose the ability to effectively spin the wheel.

STOP BEING LAZY A FLINT LIGHTER IS FAR BETTER THAN A GAS LIGHTER!!!!! However if you thumbs are seizing up we will let you off for looking at alternatives!

Battery Cigarette Lighters

Battery operated lighters are the second most reliable source of ignition. A battery is used to generate a spark over the source of fuel, they are very reliable but a nuisance when the battery charge dies un-expectantly and if not used regularly as with many battery operated products the battery can leak acid, which permanently damages the lighter (Please note this is rare and generally only if you leave the lighter un-used for many months.) Battery operated lighters where nearly obsolete but a fresh wave of battery operated lighters are coming onto the market due to the increasing frustration with Piezo lighters.

Piezo Pipe Lighters

Piezo lighters use a Piezo crystal, which when striked causes a spark in the same way your cooker ignites. The Piezo lighter has become very popular due to the lack of maintenance required. This is a great concept however, they can be temperamental. If they get wet they can be permanently damaged. Another problem is the reliability of the spark. If a build up of dust/tobacco gets in the ignition chamber the spark can arc onto the dust rather than across the source of fuel.

If carefully cared for a Piezo lighter can prove a reliable lighter but if you are not the sort to care for your lighter we recommend a flint or battery lighter.

Aesthetics and usability

Now hopefully we’ve persuaded you to buy a flint, petrol, Pipe lighter or at least a flint, gas, pipe lighter. Now aesthetics and functionality come into play. Aesthetics is generally a personal thing but there are other factors to take into consideration.

Finish

A painted finish may scratch over time and affect the look of the lighter. As most of us store a lighter next to our car keys in the pocket, they are generally susceptible to scratching and therefore the finish of a lighter is rarely under warranty. A chrome finish or bare metal is generally a better option if you are likely to abuse your lighter. Alternatively consider looking for a lighter case or storing it in your tobacco pouch.

Valve Cap

The Ignition and valve is the most delicate part of the lighter. Although it tends to make the lighter more bulky we recommend a lighter with a valve cap to prevent dust clogging the valve or making the spark arc away from the valve.

Size

A bigger lighter will likely have a bigger fuel tank and therefore will hold more gas. A smaller lighter can also be more fiddly and awkward to hold. However a bigger lighter is more likely to wear out your pockets. The compromise is your call!

WHAT IS THE BEST LIGHTER FOR A CIGAR SMOKER?

The first thing that should be considered above anything else is Reliability and function ability the lighter must be ready to use at a moment’s notice whilst be suitable for its purpose. Lighting a premium cigar is an art form in itself and if done badly can affect the whole experience.

Fuel

You can read the benefits of Gas and Petrol lighters in the sections above. However we are not even going to consider them here. A Cigars flavours have been carefully balanced through ageing, often over many years. Risking even the slightest interruption to this flavour by lighting it with a candle or petrol lighter is pure sacrilege!

Get a GAS lighter or decent box of matches! END OF!

Ignition

Flint Cigar Lighters

Lighters can be ignited by a flint and wheel, which when rubbed together will cause a shower of sparks directed over the source of fuel. The flint ignition is the most reliable source of ignition and we would strongly recommend a flint lighter over any other ignition for this reason. However flint lighters have lost popularity over the years as many smokers find changing the flint a nuisance and as time passes us by, the thumbs loose the ability to effectively spin the wheel.

STOP BEING LAZY A FLINT LIGHTER IS FAR BETTER THAN A GAS LIGHTER!!!!! However if you thumbs are seizing up we will let you off for looking at alternatives!

Battery Pipe Lighters

Battery operated lighters are the second most reliable source of ignition. A battery is used to generate a spark over the source of fuel, they are very reliable but a nuisance when the battery charge dies un-expectantly and if not used regularly as with many battery operated products the battery can leak acid, which permanently damages the lighter (Please note this is rare and generally only if you leave the lighter un-used for many months.) Battery operated lighters where nearly obsolete but a fresh wave of battery operated lighters are coming onto the market due to the increasing frustration with Piezo lighters.

Piezo Pipe Lighters

Piezo lighters use a Piezo crystal, which when striked causes a spark in the same way your cooker ignites. The Piezo lighter has become very popular due to the lack of maintenance required. This is a great concept however, they can be temperamental. If they get wet they can be permanently damaged. Another problem is the reliability of the spark. If a build up of dust/tobacco gets in the ignition chamber the spark can arc onto the dust rather than across the source of fuel.

If carefully cared for a Piezo lighter can prove a reliable lighter but if you are not the sort to care for your lighter we recommend a flint or battery lighter.

Aesthetics and usability

Now hopefully we’ve persuaded you to buy a flint petrol lighter or at least a flint gas lighter aesthetics and functionality come into play.

A Cigar can generally be lit with any clean flame however some factors make some lighters better than others. A specific Cigar lighter general has two flames next to each other or a wider flame, this aids in lighting the entire cigar in one go to encourage an even burn. A typical cigar lighter often has a cutter, Punch or Spike built in for opening the cap on a premium cigar.

Finish

A painted finish may scratch over time and affect the look of the lighter. As most of us store a lighter next to our car keys in the pocket, they are generally susceptible to scratching and therefore the finish of a lighter is rarely under warranty. A chrome finish or bare metal is generally a better option if you are likely to abuse your lighter. Alternatively consider looking for a lighter case or storing it in your tobacco pouch.

Valve Cap

The Ignition and valve is the most delicate part of the lighter. Although it tends to make the lighter more bulky we recommend a lighter with a valve cap to prevent dust clogging the valve or making the spark arc away from the valve.

Size

A bigger lighter will likely have a bigger fuel tank and therefore will hold more gas. A smaller lighter can also be more fiddly and awkward to hold. However a bigger lighter is more likely to wear out your pockets. The compromise is your call!

HOW DO YOU FILL A GAS LIGHTER?

BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO FILL OR SERVICE YOUR LIGHTER MAKE SURE YOU ARE AWAY FROM ANY SOURCES OF IGNITION OR FLAMMABLE OBJECTS. ALWAYS HOLD THE LIGHTER AND OR FUEL AWAY FROM YOUR FACE/BODY! IF THERE ARE ANY SIGNS OF DAMAGE TO THE LIGHTER DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SERVICE, FILL OR REPAIR. TAKE YOUR LIGHTER TO AN EXPERT FOR INSPECTION!

DO NOT buy cheap gas. Buy a quality Butane Gas from your local specialist tobacconist. Ronson, Colibri, Dunhill, Dupont, Sarome etc.

Cheap brands have more impurities that clog your lighter. If your shop has two options buy the expensive one. If it is in a pound shop walk around the corner to another shop.

Most Butane canisters come with a selection of connectors/adaptors. If your lighter was made in the last 20 years and was less then £200 ignore these. Your lighter has a universal adaptor. If your lighter was more than £200 you may need an adaptor and specific gas (refer to instructions.) For example Dunhill (pre millennium) and Dupont lighters have their own specific adaptors and you cannot fill their lighters without. They also recommend you use their gas. In our experience the gas is no different to any other quality gas but you will need the adaptor that comes with their canister.

Locate the filling valve (usually underneath the lighter)

Hold the lighter with the filling valve facing up. (lighter upside down)

Without applying pressure to the valve centralise the canister valve so it is seated over the lighters filling valve. Make sure the canister is not held at an angle to the canister.

Apply pressure so that the canister valve and the lighters filling valve depress inwards. You shall hear a "psst" as the pressure of the gas in the canister equalises the pressure in the lighter tank. This takes a fraction of a second.

Repeated depressing will force more gas into the lighter but also increases the chance of an air lock.

HOW DO YOU FILL A PETROL LIGHTER?

BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO FILL OR SERVICE YOUR LIGHTER MAKE SURE YOU ARE AWAY FROM ANY SOURCES OF IGNITION OR FLAMMABLE OBJECTS. ALWAYS HOLD THE LIGHTER AND OR FUEL AWAY FROM YOUR FACE/BODY! IF THERE ARE ANY SIGNS OF DAMAGE TO THE LIGHTER DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SERVICE, FILL OR REPAIR. TAKE YOUR LIGHTER TO AN EXPERT FOR INSPECTION!

All petrol lighters vary.

Locate the fuel tank, which should be full of wadding/cotton wool. Some lighters such as a Zippo involve pulling the centre out of the lighter (pull on the lighter chimney.) Other lighters such as the old Ronson Varaflame have a large screw head (do not confuse with the flint compartment, which will reveal a spring on the end of the screw.) Un screw the head and you should see the wadding/cotton wool.

Soak the wadding/cotton wool with lighter specific petrol and replace the cap/insert into the lighter. (No matter what anybody else tells you, do not use any other fuel you will damage the lighter and may cause harm to yourself)

If you overfill the lighter or spill wipe with a cloth and wait for the fuel to evaporate before attempting to ignite

WHY DOESN'T MY LIGHTER WORK? (LIGHTER TROUBLESHOOTING)

Lighters are technical pieces of kit and as with any mechanical objects they can break down. Below are the most common faults.

BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO FILL OR SERVICE YOUR LIGHTER MAKE SURE YOU ARE AWAY FROM ANY SOURCES OF IGNITION OR FLAMMABLE OBJECTS. ALWAYS HOLD THE LIGHTER AND OR FUEL AWAY FROM YOUR FACE/BODY! IF THERE ARE ANY SIGNS OF DAMAGE TO THE LIGHTER DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SERVICE, FILL OR REPAIR. TAKE YOUR LIGHTER TO AN EXPERT FOR INSPECTION!

First and foremost if your lighter has been working fine but has suddenly developed a fault, NEVER ADJUST THE FLAME HEIGHT. Your lighter is set in the factory and if the flame gets smaller or larger it either needs refilling, there is a fault on the ignition valve or the lighter has an air lock. Adjusting the flame height will make it harder to diagnose the problem. The only time you should adjust the flame is when the lighter is working properly and you want a bigger or smaller flame as standard.

My Petrol Lighter doesn’t ignite

Checks

  • Fuel
  • Ignition
  • Wick

Fuel

Refill the lighter and try lighting again

Ignition

99% of petrol lighters rely on a flint and substantial spark shower.

If the lighter has a weak spark shower try replacing the flint. We recommend Zippo flints, they don’t last as long but they are soft and give the best spark shower.

If this still doesn't work the flint wheel may be warn. Your lighter will need returning to the manufacturer/lighter repairer for a new wheel fitting.

Wick

Is the wick clean and showing. A wick never burns unless the lighter is out of fuel. If the wick has burnt away or is thick black, grasp what is left firmly with a pair of pliers and expose 2 cm of the wick. Be careful not to pull too hard as the wick may come completely out and wick replacement is a fiddly exercise.

Other than this there isn't much else can go wrong with a Petrol Lighter.

My Gas Lighter doesn’t light

Firstly there is a nack to Piezo or Battery lighters! Often you need to allow a little gas to seep out before igniting the lighter. I have stood in front of a customer and ignited a lighter 20 times only to pass it to them and watch them fail to light it 10 times. There needs to be enough gas for the spark to light. This can be achieved by increasing the flame size or by depressing the ignition half way down (just before it clicks.) This should allow a little gas to seep out, then fully depress and it will ignite.

Checks

  • Fuel
  • Ignition Valve
  • Ignition
  • Air Lock (most common lighter fault)
  • Element (turbo/windproof lighters only)
  • Flame adjustment

Check the Fuel

Hold the lighter away from face or any sources of ignition.

Locate the filling valve (usually underneath) and depress with a blunt instrument, while keeping your hands out of the way of any gas that exits the valve.

If gas exits the valve move on to "How to clear an air lock"

Check the Ignition Valve

(Hold the lighter away from your face or flammable sources as a faulty valve can be dangerous)

Hold down the ignition as you would usually keep it a light and hold a flame from a separate source over ignition valve.

If it lights fine there is a problem with the ignition. Move onto "check the ignition"

If it does not light and you have checked the lighter is full and cleared any air locks your lighter may be faulty and will need returning to the manufacturer/lighter repair centre for inspection.

Check the ignition

Flint Ignition

If the lighter has a weak spark shower try replacing the flint. We recommend Zippo flints, they don’t last as long but they are soft and give the best spark shower.

If this still doesn't work the flint wheel may be warn. Your lighter will need returning to the manufacturer/lighter repairer for a new wheel fitting.

Battery Ignition

Is the spark bright blue? If not replace the battery.

Does the spark hit the centre of the gas valve? If not blow over the valve with a compressor or air duster to clear any debris, which may be causing the spark to arc.

Is the spark wire out of place? If the chamber is clear and the spark still doesn't hit the centre of the valve the wire may have been dislodged. Try moving it closer to the centre of valve.

If this doesn't cure the problem your lighter may be faulty and will need returning to the manufacturer/lighter repair centre for inspection.

Piezo Ignition

Is the spark bright blue? If not your lighter may be faulty and will need returning to the manufacturer/lighter repair centre for repair.

Does the spark hit the centre of the gas valve? If not blow over the valve with a compressor or air duster to clear any debris, which may be causing the spark to arc.

Is the spark wire out of place? If the chamber is clear and the spark still doesn't hit the centre of the valve the wire may have been dislodged. Try moving it closer to the centre of the valve.

If this doesn't cure the problem your lighter may be faulty and will need returning to the manufacturer/lighter repair centre for inspection.

How to clear an air lock

If your gas lighter is full of gas and the ignition is fine but does not light, the flame height has dropped or the flame splutters it is likely your lighter has developed an air lock. This is a common problem, which can be caused by a change in the atmospheric pressure or by air being forced into the tank during filling. There is no way of spotting an air lock even in clear lighters.

90% of all lighter issues are caused by an air lock. They can be troublesome to clear but if you follow the instructions below the problem should be sorted quickly and stress free. The only way to get rid of it is to empty ALL the gas.

Get a blunt instrument and press the valve under the lighter, where it is filled. Be careful when doing this as very cold gas comes out, which can cause frosting on your skin. Try doing it at an angle so the gas goes away from you. When it appears like all the gas has gone turn the lighter the right way up and try ignite the lighter.

Often you will get a small flame. Regardless of a flame or not keep the ignition held down for 5 seconds.

Turn the lighter back over and depress the valve again. You will likely get a short "pssst" as a tiny blast of gas exits.

Then keep turning it over and while depressing the ignition held down so that gas can escape from the top. (There may not be enough gas to ignite but some may still be trickling out)

Repeat this process at least 5 times until nothing else comes out.

Now re-fill your lighter and see if this clears the problem.

If the problem still persists try clearing the air lock again. It can take more than one attempt.

When depressing the ignition turn the flame adjustment up to help force any stubborn blockages. Make sure you hold the lighter away from yourself and turn the flame adjust down again before attempting to fill or ignite the lighter again.

Element (turbo/windproof lighters only)

Some turbo flames rely on an element to keep the lighter lit. If this is broken you have knocked the element or held the lighter on too long and the element has burnt out. Your lighter will need repairing and will not be covered under warranty.

HOW DO I ADJUST THE FLAME ON MY LIGHTER?

Petrol Lighters

Make sure the lighter is full.

If this doesn't provide a big enough flame pull the wick further out with a pair of pliers. (Be careful not to pull the whole wick out as they are very fiddly to replace)

Gas lighters

Gas lighters generally have adjustable flames.

Firstly you need to ask yourself why you are changing the flame height.

If your flame height was fine but suddenly dropped, why did it drop? If the flame adjust has been knocked then follow the instructions below to adjust. If not follow the "trouble shooting" guide above, the flame does not need adjusting.

If your flame height has been the same since you got the lighter but you want to increase/decrease then follow the instructions below. Remember the bigger the flame the more gas you will use and the more you will have to re-fill the lighter.

Locate the adjustment screw (usually underneath the lighter with a +/- either side.

If you want to make the flame bigger turn the screw towards the +

If you want to make the flame smaller turn the screw towards the -

Now try an re-light the lighter.

If it does not light you have either turned the flame too high and it is blowing itself out or there isn't enough gas to light it.

COMMON QUESTIONS?

I need to refill my lighter every day is this normal?

This depends on the size of the tank and how many times you use it. Follow the instructions above to clear any air locks. Re-fill your lighter then do not use it for 2 days. After 2 days follow the instructions above for "Checking the Ignition Valve" If after 2 days there is no gas in your lighter, you have a leak and your lighter needs repairing.

If the lighter is still full of gas either you are smoking a lot or the flame is too high.