How to refill a long lighter

(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):


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.

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45 Responses to How to refill a long lighter

  1. Nic says:

    Followed this word-for-word and it worked!! Thank you!!
    You’re right, there are lots of videos & instructions online but a lot of them are inaccurate. Even the instruction on the back of the refill I was using wasn’t accurate & didn’t work for me.

  2. John says:

    Just another tip to add on to your guide (perhaps you can edit it in). 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.

    • andyq says:

      Wow, thanks for this tip. I will edit it into the post. I wonder whether using cheap butane is the reason why I can only manage to refill my long lighters maybe 5 or 6 times and then they stop lighting, even when refilled.

  3. Larry says:

    Andy, thanks for the great guide. Not been able to refill the lighter after successful attempts in the past has been bugging me! Thank goodness for the Google.

  4. Alex says:

    “Use the smallest nozzle” – did your can of butane come with an adaptor or something? I tried to do this without one and it didn’t really work, the valve on the can just fit into the hole on the lighter, so I think it wasn’t really lined up when I pressed down meaning a lot of butane spilled out and seemingly none went in the lighter. Do I need to buy a nozzle adaptor from somewhere?

  5. says:

    Good text. Following the instructions, I filled the cigarette lighter and it works, here is the link how

  6. Caroline Horlock says:

    Just followed your instructions and it worked…..having spent nearly 30 minutes battling with trying to fill my long lighter! Thank you 🙏

  7. Ros says:

    Andy, you have no idea how ridiculously happy you have made me with this post 🤣🤣🤣🤣 thank you for taking the time to educate and inform us ! And next time I buy gas I’ll follow John’s advice too😁

  8. Q says:

    I’m so glad someone put the right instructions up! Thank you 😀

  9. Dawn Finnell says:

    Mine does not have the hole on the bottom

  10. Ann Marie George says:

    Always want to know how to refilled this lighter and finally I did it thk u

  11. You saved me a can of butane and many future lighters.

    I couldn’t fill up the lighter no matter what. The thing that did the trick was to hold the can upside down!

    Thanks a million!

  12. Lee Ann says:

    Thanks for all your pictures and directions.
    My Calico has a hole on the side base. Is this the refill hole?
    I can see there is plenty of fluid right now, otherwise I would try it.
    Just wondering for the future.
    I never knew these lighters could be refilled! I love it! Thanks so much!
    Lee Ann

  13. Lee says:

    Thank you for your clear and informative post!

    One thought regarding only being able to refill a few times – I believe the spark generator has a limited life span, as the lighters are generally designed to be disposable so not the best quality; also the fluid may affect it if it spills over the lighter.

    All the best from down south (Melbourne AU) 😉

    • andyq says:

      Yup, I think that sounds about right. Sometimes I’ll get a lighter that I can refill many times, but other times, only a few times. I did want to look for a higher quality fuel as recommended by John, but I’m still using the fuel I bought YEARS ago. Cheers from up north. Hope we both get out of lockdown soon.

  14. Anne says:

    Thanks so much. I hate having to throw away the long lighter and I ordered Butane and filled according to your directions and it worked perfectly. Thanks for helping to save the planet!

  15. Steave says:

    Wow , even after all these years and it’s still helpfull.

  16. Mitch says:

    Will the hole to refill always be on the bottom? I am looking at a few of mine and while there is no hole on the bottom , there is something that appears to be a hole on the side of the grip.

    • andyq says:

      Some lighters have the hole in other places. Some lighters (boo!) don’t have the option to refill them. And of course, if you can refill it, you’ll need to find the right adapter from the gas canister. Good luck!

  17. Joanne Powell says:

    This is exactly the advise I needed. I’ve recently changed from the cheap throwaway lighters to the longer ones, bevause I use them for incense and candles and the angle of attack with the small ones burns my fingers. The longer one I recently got came with a small refill of butane in the pack, and when it was time to refill I followed instructions on the packet and ended up with butane all over my hands, the lighter, the floor, and some spewed up into the air too. I was actually a little worried about doing it again, but I will use a small pin and follow your instructions which make so much sense. I hate the idea of throwing away lighter after lighter, and while this one may not last long either, it’s less waste. When this one stops working, I’ll get a high quality butane like John suggested. Thank you all so much.

    • andyq says:

      I’m so glad the advice is useful, Joanne. I find it constantly gratifying that people from around the world have found this post over the last six years. I’m totally with you. I hate small lighters! I’ve found lately that if the lighter is empty enough, you sometimes don’t need the pin to release all the gas, though it’s probably still a good idea. I’m still aiming to buy a better quality butane like John suggested, but the refill bottle I got years ago has lasted for … years.

  18. Kelsey says:

    THANK YOU!! Literally I’ve been trying to troubleshoot a lighter that’s been dead for years. Even took it apart and found everything was working fine. All I needed to do was gently clean the end with a needle like you suggested, and bam, it works flawlessly!!

    • andyq says:

      So glad to help! I feel a bit foolish the number of lighters I threw out because I couldn’t figure out how to clean them but at least we know the trick now!

  19. Norm Gilbert says:

    So many adapters on Amazon. Which ones will work to refill a long lighter?

  20. Stephen Block says:

    Thank you, it worked, letting the gas out first, made all the difference.

    • andyq says:

      Glad it worked for you. I actually discovered that sometimes you can get away with not letting all the gas out, but the first times I tried it, I definitely needed to do so.

  21. Sabena says:

    How many of these lighters i have thrown out for not refilling. First time getting this refilled properly. Thank you for taking the time to write such a clear instruction along with the why. Releasing the gas is crucialnstep i have been skipping

  22. GmaBarb3 says:

    A big thank you! This is the best advice I have found.
    Just filled two long lighters. The second one spewed butane out the sides. Felt around until I was sure the can nozzle was truly seated on the lighter pin. Filled immediately.

  23. Jackie says:

    Thank you for this. I had been trying and never understood why I couldn’t refill the lighters at the sacristy in my church. All I had to do was turn the upside down. Thanks again!!!

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