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The Ultimate Lighter Reviews: Pros & Cons. Facts & Hacks. Tips & Tricks

Updated on November 13, 2019
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Top 10 Lighters: Reviews From Decades Of Testing - Experiences & Experimentation's. Your One-Stop Lighter Review Shop.

The Ultimate Lighter Reviews

If I had led an affluent life, I would have been reviewing the finest lighters that have ever existed. Including the Dunhills, Cartier's and S.T. Dupont's of this world. However, I had not, so the only lighters I will be reviewing are the cheapest and most widely used.

Reviews Include: Butane. Petrol. Electric Arc/Coil. Torch/Turbo and Flame lighters.

Great advice for anyone with OCD, physical disabilities and the perfectionists who are extremely fussy or particular about their lighters.

Contents.

  • Top 10 lighter reviews
  • What Is The Best Lighter?
  • The Lighters I Choose To Buy & Use
  • Decisions To Make Before Buying a Lighter
  • Final Tips

I'd been planning to write this page some time ago. It was a television crime documentary that finally persuaded me to. In it, an investigator was searching for these tiny particles. He said, "every-time you strike a flint lighter, thousands of tiny (flint) particles are released into the air". It was that evidence which helped convict a killer, and the final piece of information I needed to write this. I had all the other evidence/reviews/answers I needed.

More information about the "flint particles" in the #2, Clipper Cons reviews.

"When you're so cold you'd use anything to keep a bit warmer"

1. Zippo

Zippo History & Facts: A product invented by the American inventor, George G. Blaisdell in 1932. Zippo is one of the most famous lighters in the world. * The Zippo lighter's 'click' is protected by a sound trademark. * Its durable design made it a favourite choice among soldiers, particularly in the second world war. * A Zippo is so cool to light than your regular lighters, and less likely to go out during film scenes. * Zippo lighters have appeared in over 2,000 films, as seen in the film "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" when Drew Barrymore threw a lighted Clipper onto a petrol soaked floor to repel the bad guy. Later in the film, Barrymore was hanging on the edge of a building by her fingertips and the bad guy used the Zippo to burn her hands.* And In the 2009 supernatural film, "Hellboy", Hellboy was just about to light a cigar with his petrol lighter until he was stopped and told, "You don't want to ruin the taste". He then used matches to light the cigar. * Zippo lighters are sold in more than 160 countries around the world.

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • Lighter fluid.
  • Flint.
  • Wick.

PROS.

  • Works well in the wind.
  • Due to its large wheel, it can be easily used with thick gloves on.
  • You can buy replacement wicks, flints, tinder sticks, wadding and felt pads/packs.
  • Lifetime guarantee.
  • Zippo guarantee their lighter will continue working for 50 years.
  • A Zippo can be lighted by using many different cool techniques.
  • No need to hold onto it while it's alight as it can stand-up on its own.

CONS.

  • Zippo's are not waterproof
  • Because the lid does close air-tight to the case, fuel can evaporate quite quickly. Not ideal for survival purposes or camping!
  • If dropped while alight, it has the potential to set anything flammable on fire.
  • If left alight for too long, the flame will get bigger causing the casing to get so hot, it will evaporate more fuel, causing it to catch fire.
  • The "wheel" gets very hot when left alight for too long.
  • They stink of petrol.

HACKS. TIPS & TRICKS.

  • When buying, make sure it closes flush and firm.
  • Keep it in a cool place to ensure it has less chance of evaporating.
  • To re-fill in emergencies (at your own risk) you can use alcohol. Lantern fuel. Gasoline and diesel.
  • To make the flame green, mix boric acid with alcohol to produce a chemical called triethyl borate - (at your own risk!)
  • To minimise any evaporation, wrap a piece of sticky tape around the seal.

"make fire with a flick of a finger".

2. Clipper

Clipper History & Facts. The Clipper was the first refillable lighter in the world. * It was designed in 1971 by the architect Enric Sarda. * In 2016, they launched their own filters and smoking papers. * The clipper was one of the most popular lighters before the introduction of the common disposable lighter varieties we now have. * Their new hexagon-shaped wheel makes it easier to strike. Clipper also sells "torch" and regular flame "electronic" lighters. * Clipper is also the name of a merchant sailing ship.

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • Butane.
  • Flint.

PROS.

  • The Clipper is one of the most durable plastic lighters on the market.
  • The pull-out flint holder is great for helping to push down the contents of hand-rolled smokes!
  • Replacement flint holder and wheels can be purchased online.
  • They come in different shapes and sizes. Even Clipper utility lighters.

CONS.

  • Every time you spin the wheel of a clipper, it releases thousands of tiny flint particles. So if someone has a dodgy lighter which takes three spins before it lights, that's 3300 plus particles floating around. Not ideal if you're laying down with particles being breathed-in and landing on your skin, and in your eyes! I doubt anyone has scientifically tested the health implications of this. For those reasons, I've stopped using any flint and wheel style lighters.

    Also, all lighters with a wheel get very hot when left alight for too long.
  • It doesn't take long until the wheel gets clogged-up with flint debris, sweat, and oils from the skin. This will cause the wheel to eventually stop the lighter from working effectively.
  • Flint and wheel lighters are not ideal for people with sweaty hands. Or anyone who regularly uses hand-creams.
  • The wheel gets very hot when alight for too long.
  • Round lighters are easier to roll. Easier to roll means easier they are to lose.

HACKS. TIPS &TRICKS.

  • When the flint is not working well, turn it upside down so the flattened part of the flint will work like new again. Also, stretch the (bottom end) of the spring to make it more effective. Or add another flint if there's room. Two's better than one.
  • The metal removable top is ideal to manly push down the cuticles from your finger nails. The metal top can be made larger or smaller depending on finger-size.
  • It was hard to see how much fuel I had left in some Clippers, so I would weigh it. It weighed 12.1 grams when empty and 17.1 when full. Holding approximately 5 grams of fuel. Always good to know.
  • You can cut a flint in half with a pair of scissors if you ever needed to.
  • Don't let anyone use your flint-wheel lighter. Always light their smoke if they need a light. This prevents the wheel from being clogged-up by sweat from sweaty or greasy hands.
  • Never point someone else's lighter directly towards your face when first lighting it, especially after seeing how easy it is to make a powerful flame thrower out of a Clipper.

"Never underestimate the power of a flame".

3. BIC

BIC Lighter History & Facts: The most famous disposable lighter is the BIC brand which was founded in 1945 by Baron Marcel Bich. * The company was named after the BIC Crystal ballpoint pen. * They are based in France and are well-known for making consumer products including lighters, pens, surfboards, razors and printed paper products.

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • Butane gas.
  • Flint.

PROS.

  • The BIC is a good quality disposable lighter and slightly more expensive than the standard and cheaper make and models.
  • They come in small and larger sizes for personal preference.
  • Each holds up to 3,000 lights.
  • BIC also sells utility lighters.

CONS.

  • Disposable.
  • The "wheel" gets very hot when left alight for too long.

HACKS. TIPS & TRICKS.

  • The flint cannot be replaced unless you hack it.
  • The flame can only be increased if you hack it.
  • The lighter can only be refilled if you hack it.

"There's nothing more romantic than a flame from a candle or lighter"

4. Refillable & Disposable Flint/Butane

Refillable & Disposable Flint/Butane Lighter History & Facts. Butane was discovered by the chemist Edward Frankland in 1849. * In 1950 that butane replaced a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture called Naphtha. A mixture which was used in early cloth wick lighters. Butane being less smelly, and the flame more controllable, it became the ideal fuel source used for all the lightweight and disposable lighters throughout the world.

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • Butane gas.
  • Flint.

PROS.

  • The cheapest on the market.
  • Refillable and disposable varieties.
  • No need to buy flints, fuel or charge it.

CONS.

  • The cheaper they are, the thinner and less durable they'll be.
  • The distance between the flint wheel and gas release button are too close together. This can cause the wheel to get hot quicker, and when kept alight for too long, will burn the thumb.
  • The easy to press gas release button is prone to being accidentally pressed when they're in a tight pocket and especially when sitting down which will leak gas. Not dangerous, just annoying to have an empty lighter when you need one.
  • The "wheel" gets very hot when left alight for too long.

HACKS. TIPS & TRICKS.

  • When the lighters run out of fuel, remove the metal top attachment (if possible). Then slide the slider to high-flame, and you'll be able to carry on using it.
  • To increase the flame if you want it higher than the maximum, use a small knife to cut some more space for the slider to be able to move further. Some lighters will be made of metal which is not as easy as metal to cut.
  • When your disposable lighter has run-out of fuel, remove and keep the flint.

"forget rubbing two sticks together"

5. Refillable & Disposable (Electronic Spark) Lighter

Refillable & disposable (Electronic Spark) Lighters History & Facts: The electronic spark device is the only difference to the original flint-based lighter. * The technical name is a piezo ignition electric igniter which uses the principle of piezoelectricity (the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials)

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • Butane.
  • Electronic Spark.

PROS.

  • Childproof.
  • The butane (child-proof) push button is so hard to press that it's less likely to accidentally leak inside pockets, especially when sitting down.
  • Some lighters have a built-in torch which can be very handy.
  • All non-wheel and flint lighters are perfect to light, even with wet, oily and sweaty hands.
  • Works with the wettest or sweatiest hands.

CONS.

  • A built-in torch means less room for the butane which makes the lighter run-out quicker.
  • The push buttons pressure requires some effort to light.
  • I don't like the loud clicking sound they make, especially when I'm on the phone, or in the early hours of the morning with thin walls. Other times I want to have a sneaky smoke without advertising it with every loud click.
  • When it's run out of fuel, there's no chance of using the "electronic" part to try and make fire. Having a flint, along with tinder, kindling and wood will help make fire than an electronic lighter without fuel.
  • The electronic part of these lighters tends to fail. Sometimes you can see the spark working, but the lighter just won't work. I think this is because of two things. Firstly, poor quality fittings which have not been perfectly aligned or stable enough when it was made, and secondly, the small wire could have moved slightly out of place after being dropped too many times. Maybe the direct sunlight caused the wire to slightly warp! I don't really know!
  • The metallic top gets very hot when left alight for too long.

HACKS. TIPS & TRICKS.

  • Take the lighter apart and use the electronic device which makes the click sound and use it to give people very small electric shocks.

"Lighters of every shape, colour, style and materials imaginable".

6. Butane Electronic Torch/Turbo Lighter

Butane Electronic Torch/Turbo Lighter. It was inevitable that someone would turn an everyday lighter into a flame-thrower!

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • Butane.

PROS.

  • Will light in the windiest weather and stay alight.
  • Ideal for lighting fires and cigars quicker and easier.

CONS.

  • Runs out of fuel quicker.

HACKS. TIPS & TRICKS.

  • The flame is ideal to caramelise a crème brûlèè. In time!

7. Electric Coil Rechargeable Lighter

Electric Coil Rechargeable Lighter. This lighter looks and feels so cool and is very quiet to use. It works by heating a small red hot coil to light up your smokes.

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • Electricity Via USB charge.

PROS.

  • Slim and stylish.
  • Wind proof....ish.
  • A slight touch of the finger on the LED sensor screen will light the coil with no sound. It's ideal to use if you have thin walls/ceilings/neighbours!
  • Fuel-free USB charge lighters are economically and environmental friendlier.
  • Ideal for lighting cigarettes and candles.

CONS.

  • It won't light your pipe or thick cigars very easily.
  • Does not work-well in severe windy weather. You only have to gently blow-it to see how non-wind proof it really is.
  • Even when fully charged, it does not last for long.
  • it will light cigarettes okay, but re-lighting a hand-rolled smoke with ash on the end can be messy, especially when wearing a white suit or shirt! - unless you use an ash-tray to remove the ash before lighting again.
  • The above lighter does not stand-up!
  • Ideally, a larger battery would make it last longer
  • I purchased two and they were both faulty.

TIPS & TRICKS.

  • none.

"Lighters have been incorporated into guns, walking sticks and now, mobile/cell phones".

8. Electric Arc/Plasma Lighter

Double Arc
Double Arc

Electric Arc/Plasma Lighter. A self-charging electric lighter. It ignites two purple plasma ‘laser’ beams to light a cigarette.

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • Battery.

PROS.

  • Cool, sturdy and quality designs.
  • No fuel required. USB rechargeable battery.
  • Storm-proof.
  • Waterproof.
  • Will light cigars and pipes.
  • No flints in it. It has electrodes which don't need to be replaced.

CONS.

  • Depending on the make and model will depend on how long it takes to charge and the number of uses per charge.
  • If dropped in water or gets wet, it could short circuit and break.
  • Some emits a high pitched sound, and depending on your age, will depend on how silent or severe the sound is!

HACKS. TIPS & TRICKS.

  • none.

"Lighters are like vehicles, each designed for their own particular purpose in life".

9. Tesla Electric Arc/Plasma Lighter. Single Ark

Tesla Electric Arc/Plasma Lighter History & Facts. Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer who is best known for his contributions to the design of the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Elon Musk named the car company Tesla after the inventor * The self-charging Tesla electric lighter was designed by the inventor Mark Pauling. It was funded by the platform Kickstarter. * This lighter works on the principle of an electric arc which uses a combination of electromagnetic induction and an electric arc to produces electricity.

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • No need for flint or fuel.

PROS.

  • A single shake generates a few seconds of a stable arc of electricity.
  • Heavy and Stylish.
  • Wind-proof.
  • Ideal for lighting cigarettes, candles and fires.

CONS.

  • Not the easiest lighter to light things with.
  • If dropped in water or gets wet, it could short circuit and break.

  • The heavier and more expensive lighters are, the more likely they are to being damaged when dropped too hard and/or too often.

HACKS. TIPS & TRICKS.

  • To save energy, don't hold the button for longer than needed.

"The cigarette lighter was invented before the match stick".

10. Hob / Cooker Bupane & Electric/Spark Lighters

Cooker/Hob Lighter. I doubt there's much to wonder how these type of lighter styles came about.

FUEL COMPONENTS.

  • They come in two versions. An electronic lighter with flame. The other emits an electronic spark to ignite the gas of a cooker.

PROS.

  • Very useful to light ovens which don't have a built-in electric spark.
  • Because of their size, they're not easy to lose.
  • Great for lighting out-of-reach things like lamps, tea lights and candles.
  • As its larger, its easier to find, and less chance of losing it, or anyone accidentally pocketing it!

CONS.

  • Just because it's larger, don't expect the gas container inside to be larger and holds more gas.

HACKS. TIPS & TRICKS.

  • Not just for cookers, this style of lighter (the butane type) is Ideal for those with dexterity or disability problems who have difficulty with holding and using a regular lighter.

What Is The Best Lighter?

We all have different needs and reasons as to which lighter would be appropriate. Perhaps it's the safety of a lighter. The durability, the price, the style or how economical a lighter is to use over a year which is important.

My perfect lighter would be a touch sensor (or silent click) with a flame (not torch-flame) Unfortunately, this lighter does not exist.

Decisions To Make Before Buying a Lighter

Before buying a lighter, ask the seller If you can test them before buying. If they decline, go somewhere else to buy/test.

Visual checks: 1. I look for the type of lighter you want (Refillable & electronic). 2. Then design. (thin, slim and rectangular. Rectangular lighters, as opposed to round are more stable and less likely to go/roll missing) 3. What's printed or engraved on it. (anything acceptable). 4. The size. (smaller lighters are easier to conceal, but smaller will hold less gas and run-out of fuel quicker),

Physical checks: 1, The flame height; Some lighters low flame is quite high. I prefer a lighter that has the lowest flame on its lowest setting. A low flame is safer, economical and environmentally friendlier, and lasts longer. 2. When testing the flame, turn the lighter upside-down and check the flame does not automatically get bigger. Not great when laying down to light a smoke! 3. It has to stand-up (that's just me). 4. It has to strike five times consecutively. If it fails, try another.

Final Tips

For extreme survival purposes: The best lighter specifications would be one that's tough and storm proof. Refillable and refillable. Waterproof and wind-proof. One that can be sealed shut with a locking clasp, and one that can float in water. Actually, you can buy this type of lighter (which could break). To replicate those specifications, a plastic bag, ingenuity, and any of the above lighters will practically replicate the survival lighters features. You can even light a fire with a pair of prescription spectacles or magnifying glass and dry kindling (sun permitting). If I was going hunting or camping, I would take electronic and flint. Including gas, flints butane gas, boxes of matches and a magnifying glass. Just to be on the safe side.

Lighter Thieves: If you're fed-up of friends or colleagues stealing or mistaken your lighter for theirs. Simply scratch your initials on your lighters using something pointy and sharp. To mark a Clipper, remove the silver top and use that hidden space to conceal your initial or colour-in with a marker. For other lighters, marking your initials, or a number of small dots on the lower-back of the lighter works well. Take a photo of it, especially if it has distinguishable marks or scratches on it!

Concert Goers. if you like to wave a lighter in the air, without the risk of a burning flame, instead of downloading a "virtual flickering flame/candle" app on your mobile phone, simply video-record any flame you like for 30 seconds, then play it back on a loop!

© 2019 Compu-Smart

Share YOUR lighter tips!

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    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Charlie1212 

      7 weeks ago

      I vape, so lighters are no longer a nessisicity!

    • profile image

      Just saying 

      3 months ago

      Many moons ago, while sitting watching televison, my older bully brother sneeked-up behine me and started to choke me (for fun) with his arm around my neck. I immedielty used my lighter to burn his arm which made him immedielty release his grip! IF, IF this was a real situation, the lighter could have saved my life!

    • profile image

      Sweet P. 

      4 months ago

      DO NOT LET ANYONE WITH SWEATY HANDS USE YOUR CLIPPER!!!

    • compu-smart profile imageAUTHOR

      Compu-Smart 

      4 months ago from London UK

      Zippo lighters are definitely the coolest. However, not ideal in any shape-or-form for me!

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      4 months ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I gave up smoking many years ago, but when I smoked I loved the old Zippo lighters.

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