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How Do Lighters Work? The Magic of Handheld Flame

Posted by Alyssa Mertes October 26th, 2020 8 Minute Read

It takes a simple flick, and poof, just like that your lighter has a flame! You may wonder: well, how does that happen? Is it by magic or something else?

Reach into your pocket, or the drawer in your kitchen, and pull out your lighter. It’s time to learn a little something about how it all works!

How Does a Lighter Work Diagram

First, let’s look at a general overview of a lighter. The diagram pictured below shows you all the parts of a standard butane lighter and how they come together to create a flame.

What Are the Parts of a Lighter?

  • Flint Wheel: The flint wheel exists on most disposable lighters as a safety feature. You turn the wheel down to hit the button or lever below.
  • Lever: You hold down on the lever, and by doing so, pressure is created within the tube. This tube holds the flammable fluid or liquid gas.
  • Tube: The fluid or gas needs to be in a concentrated area in order to create the right amount of pressure and heat. A torch is connected at the end of this tube to release the gas at the top.
  • Metal or Plastic Container: The metal or plastic container is usually lightweight and protects your hands from the liquid or gas inside of the lighter.
  • Flame: The flame comes out of the top of the lighter. You use this to light cigars, candles, incense, grills, and so much more!

Do you want to learn more about how lighters work?

Check out this video!

What is Inside of a Lighter?

There has to be some kind of fuel source or gas to make a spark. Any of the following can be found inside of a lighter:

  • Butane
  • Ferrocerium
  • Piezoelectric crystals
  • Naphtha

There are a variety of lighters out there, from disposable to refillable to electric. Some use butane, while others use crystals. It just depends on which type of lighter you’re using! No matter what, though, you’ll get a spark as the result of any of these things being inside of your lighter.

How Different Lighter Types Work

Now it’s time to dive into the fine details. There are many types of lighters out there, and each one works a bit differently.

How Does a BIC Lighter Work?

BIC lighters work more or less the same way as a standard butane lighter, with a few differences. The BIC lighter contains various springs and a piece known as a fork that controls the opening and closing of gas coming from the top.

The thing about BIC lighters is they’re designed to last. They rely on speed, force, and pressure in order to work. Each piece inside, from the flint to the fork, exists as a way to bring the gas or fuel from the body to the top. It’s no wonder BIC has sold more than 30 billion lighters since they made their debut in 1973!

Where Are BIC Lighters Made?

BIC lighters are made in Milford, Connecticut. On average, you can expect about 1.2 million lighters to be created at this facility every single day!

These lighters are then sold everywhere – drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and online. You can also customize BIC lighters through promotional products companies like Quality Logo Products®.

BIC has been a successful brand thanks to the affordable price, high volume of lighters produced every day, and convenience of finding them everywhere and anywhere! It makes them one of the best lighters on the market.

BIC has lighters that target different consumer segment groups with various interests, trends, colors and licenses. They’re the ultimate accessory and help consumers express their own personalities in a unique and creative way.

– Alison Centorino, Communications Associate for BIC Graphic

How Does a Zippo Lighter Work?

Zippos are one of the most popular lighters on the planet and a favorite among collectors. They are well-known for their stylish chrome case and for being one of the best refillable lighters on the planet.

Here’s how a Zippo works: A flint wick is found inside of every Zippo. This wick is submerged into the fluid inside the fuel tank. From there, the striker is pushed down with the thumb, the wheel turns rapidly over the flint, and the result is the creation of a hot flame.

Check out this handy breakdown of the entire process!

Zippo lighters are meant to be held onto for years. They can be refilled with butane after the metal case is removed, which means you never have to dispose of yours when it runs out of fuel.

The Zippo makes a small ringing sound when in use. This is the lighter’s hinge lock sliding open and closed.

Where Are Zippo Lighters Made?

Zippo lighters are proudly made in the U.S.A. They have been manufactured in Bradford, Pennsylvania since 1932.

Zippo lighters were huge during World War II and the Vietnam War. The soldiers would not only bring them on the battlefield as personal mementoes, but they also used them to stay safe from harm.

In fact, a soldier’s life was saved in Vietnam when the Zippo in his pocket stopped a bullet. Let’s see your regular old convenience store lighter do that!

How Does a BBQ Lighter Work?

You can’t make delicious hot dogs and burgers on the grill without a barbeque or torch lighter. These lighters work when you slowly push the lever down, causing a flame to come out of a long nozzle.

Typically, butane is used as the fuel source in a barbeque lighter. You can hold the nozzle up to the grill, turn the dial, and get to cooking!

How Does an Electric Lighter Work?

Electric lighters, also known as arc lighters, rely on electrical energy that is transferred between two ceramic nodes. The result is a laser charge instead of a flame.

The coolest part of an electric lighter is it can be charged through micro USBs – the same thing that’s used to charge your smartphone!

How Do Car Cigarette Lighters Work?

Car cigarette lighters contain a coil of nichrome wire. When heated, this wire creates a strong electrical current that the driver or passenger can use for their burning or smoking needs.

These days it’s more common to use car lighters to power small electric devices. You can buy special adapters that plug into the receptable, allowing you to plug in your phone and have it come through the radio. As a result, you can use your GPS or listen to that Spotify playlist with ease!

How Hot Does a Lighter Burn?

The flame from a lighter can be as hot as 2,010°F. That makes it significantly warmer than boiling point, hair dryers, car engines, desert sand, and even Venus!

See just how a lighter’s flame compares to other hot stuff!

Boiling Point 212°F

Hair Dryer 140°F

Car Engine 119°F to 220°F

Desert Sand 140°F

Venus 800°F

Listen to the age old wisdom that you learned as a kid: Don’t play with fire. You should always use extreme caution while using a lighter as they can obviously get very, very hot.

Are Old Lighters Dangerous?

Old lighters are typically safe to use, especially if they’re refillable. Brands like Zippo and Ronson make lighters that allow you to replace the fuel inside, which keeps them usable.

However, there are many lawsuits and instances out there of lighters causing harm or malfunctioning with improper use.

For instance, Sherryl Atkinson of CBS News released a report in 2012 about the dangers of disposable lighters made in China. It was found that 70% of these lighters failed to meet U.S. standards as determined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Furthermore, malfunctions from these lighters cause more than 900 injuries each year.

Today, manufacturers are aware of the danger of lighters and are taking necessary steps to ensure they meet standards and are safe to use. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to speak with the manufacturer directly.

If you’ve ever wondered how a lighter makes a flame, you’re in the right place. Ferrocerium, naphtha, butane… here’s how it works!

How do windproof (jet) lighters work? Full Review

Susi Neo
Aug 28 · 5 min read

If you want to extinguish the flame of a candle, you just need to blow a breath at it. But if possible to make the flame stay in the wind? Absolutely, butane torch lighters make it. However, is the windproof lighter really safe? What should you pay attention to when using it?

What is a windproof lighter?

Windproof lighter refers to a lighter made by Bernoulli’s principle. Its fire is different from ordinary lighters, it’s usually called torch lighter or butane lighter, power with triple flames.

Windproof ligh t er is a special light that can be ignited even in harsh environments such as high winds.

Butane torches work by discharging liquid butane, stored in a pressurized space, in a narrow stream of gas. A flicker, made by striking flint with steel or simply by compressing piezoelectric crystal, ignites the gas. The Triple flame butane torch is a giant among torch lighters. Weighty and shaped to make an easy grip, the Triple Flame Torch is both intuitive and convenient. That makes the jet flame powerful and it could be powered on even under the windy environment. I got a triple flame lighter a few months ago, and it works windproof, this helps for someone usually work outside like me.

How do windproof (jet) lighters work?

Most of the windbreak wall is non-porous, so when the wind blows horizontally towards the torch lighter windbreak wall. The wind is blocked and forced to flow to the sides and above, then a much smaller amount of air passes through the small holes. The area blocked by the iron sheet next to the hole is a low-pressure area, it makes the air column passing through the small hole dispersed, forming multiple vortexes inside the combustion chamber. These low-velocity turbulences are not enough for the wick flame to quickly take away heat. Therefore, the wick flame can be continuously maintained above the ignition point of Z oil, and the combustion can be maintained.

Is the windproof lighter safe?

It is easy to be triggered when heated no matter what kind of lighter it is. Basically, the power generated by a lighter itself is not very big, as long as there is no contact with the human body, it will not cause major damage. However, in midsummer, if the lighter is played around other inflammable and explosive products or in a car, the consequences are disastrous. In addition, wind-proof lighters still have some other safety hazards.

Concerning wind-proof lighters are not as safe as ordinary lighters due to their high temperature, and the price may be more expensive, ordinary lighters seem are more commonly used in our daily life. But as long as we master the correct use method and pay attention to some matters, it will prevent danger from happening.

How to use windproof lighter correctly?

1. While using, the flame height will change to a certain extent as the product’s air content decreases, and the ambient temperature changes. This is a normal phenomenon, you could totally adjust the flame height appropriately.

2. It would be better to adjust the flame height at 1.5–2.5 cm.

3. Use a flat-blade screwdriver to align the flame regulator groove, or if the lighter is equipped with an adjustment ring, simply adjust it with your fingers.

(-) arrow direction means turning clockwise to lower the flame height; to (+) arrow direction means turning counterclockwise to increase the flame height.

Make sure that the gas nozzle of the inflatable canister and the inflatable hole of the lighter are of the same specification, put up the lighter and the gas canister is down (shake it to expand the gas before use). Hold it for 3–5 seconds and it will be OK. After filling, the lighter will have a temporary venting phenomenon, up to 3–5 seconds. If there is a continuous venting phenomenon, the lighter may leak.

In addition, there will be a temporary inability to strike after the gas is filled, and it will be fine after a while. The lighter can generally adjust the firepower, and you can adjust it appropriately according to your needs.

What should you know about the use of butane lighters?

1. Don’t burn the lighter for a long time. Don’t try to use it as an oil lamp, as regular long-term burning will cause the lighter to anneal, which will seriously affect its ignition performance.

2. Do not rub and fire on hard objects: do not rub and fire on the ground, stones, or wood, as this will seriously damage the flared wheel and eventually lead to failure to fire.

3. If your lighter burns for more than 10 seconds, please do not immediately pinch the windbreak wall and pull out the inner tank, because the heat conduction ability of metal is very strong. Even the windbreak wall cannot burn your hands, your fingers will be hurt.

4. Do not ignite in the wind. Although the windproof performance of the windproof lighter is good enough, do not deliberately ignite it in the wind, or test its windproof performance in front of the fan. Because it will accelerate the burning of the cotton core while wind blowing, thereby accelerating the carbonization of the cotton core. Buring the butane lighter under a strong wind, the carbonization speed of the cotton core can be multi times than the normal one.

5. Stay away from the fire source when refueling.

6. Keep away from children.

7. Strictly forbidden to flammable substances, clothing.

8. Don’t put lighters and sharps together: metal objects such as keys, fruit knives, etc. are put together, especially black ice or mirror machines, which can easily scratch the surface of the fuselage.

If you want to extinguish the flame of a candle, you just need to blow a breath at it. But if possible to make the flame stay in the wind? Absolutely, butane torch lighters make it. However, is the… ]]>