(Originally posted 14 December 2017): Does anyone else have this problem? I’ve never liked cigarette lighters. I spin the little metal dial, get the flame up, and then when trying to light my tea lights (which is the main reason why I would use a lighter), I manage to angle the lighter so that it burns my fingers. In situations where a gas stove needs lighting, I have always had the fear that I will light the gas and my whole hand.
That is why I have always used long lighters.
I’ve always found it wasteful, though they only cost between $2 and $6, to throw them out when the butane has run out. But the thing is, the first times I tried refilling them, many years ago, I remember it being a complete disaster.
But things move fast these days. I thought of this task more recently and realised that at the time, it was unlikely for there to be advice up on the internet, but nowadays, there is advice on EVERYTHING. The weird thing is that the advice that I found was super complicated and often wrong.
The worst advice involved removing the cartridge from a cigarette lighter and then removing the cartridge from the long lighter, and putting the cigarette lighter cartridge into the long lighter AFTER you’ve made a few small adjustments.
Yeah, right. A video from a kid (who shouldn’t be playing with lighters) didn’t help out, and gave advice that was opposite to what eventually worked. The best advice was found on a message board, but without illustration. So, I thought that I could help out here, for anyone who was once, like me, confused.
How to refill a long lighter:
- Buy a can of butane
- Use the smallest nozzle and first use it (or a pin or a screwdriver) to completely release any remaining gas or butane that is in the lighter. Put your instrument into the small hole and press until there is no pressure left, no sound, nothing. This can be an important step, though the truth is, I’ve managed to refill the lighter when there is still a small bit of gas in the compartment.
- When the cartridge is completely empty, then you can fill it up. Hold the can of butane upside down with the nozzle inserted into the tiny hole for refilling the butane!
- Press down. It’s likely that extra butane will leak over your fingers, which will be cold, so you might want to wear gloves. And you’d probably want to do this on a solid surface rather than my hands in the air illustration purposes only.
- You will be able to see in the window whether the cartridge has filled up.
I’m still using the same can of butane to refill lighters 2.5 years after I first wrote this post. And I just got some new advice!
John (thanks John) advises:
You should use a quality butane from brands like Colibri, Puretane, Vector etc. The brand name is less important than how refined it is. Personally, I use 9x refined Colibri for my torches.
Cheap butane like Ronson has more impurities and it can clog up your lighter and ruin it. Long lighters are pretty cheap, so maybe it’s not worth the hassle, but I’ve ruined torches with low quality butane in the past.
I’d found that I could only refill the lighters about 4 or 5 times and then they just wouldn’t light, even when there was enough butane in them. So I thought the problem was my butane. But the thing is, one bottle of butane has lasted me over a decade. So, I’m embarrassed to discover after more than four years (and throwing out some lighters):
ADDITIONAL USEFUL ADVICE:
If the lighters don’t light, the problem may be that the head of the lighter is dirty (possibly from cheap butane). Most online sources recommended cleaning it with compressed air, but I didn’t have any, so I angled a brush around the end of the lighter (not so easy, since it’s enclosed with plastic) AND I used a long needle, inserting it into the combustion chamber (that’s what the net is calling it). And voila! The two lighters that weren’t working, but had enough gas, suddenly worked.