Choosing the Right Lighters

There are many lighters on the market today. Differences include ignition method, fuel type and endurance, flame strength and direction, refillable and disposable, material casing, and overall durability and design. That’s a lot!

For our purposes, what are the most helpful lighters for emergency preparedness? While it will always come down to specific needs and preferences, here are five different categories of lighters from which to consider adding to your fire starter preps. Purchasing from all five isn't probably necessary as there is a lot of redundancy. Take a look and see what you think will work for your storage preps.

Disposable Lighters

BIC is a well-known brand of disposable lighter. They’ve been around forever, and the brand is known for their reliability and consistent performance. They are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased in bulk. They are widely available and can be found at most convenience stores, gas stations, and supermarkets.

While they are priced right, they are not exactly eco-friendly as each lighter will be thrown out after it eventually runs out of fuel. You may see this as a plus however, being able to grab a new one instead of having to take the time to refill.

When considering the storage strength of any given lighter, BIC shines. If stored in a dry container, BIC lighters can last for up to 25 years in storage. You can’t beat that. Proper storage can also help prevent rust and fuel leakage, which can speed up lighter degradation.

Traditional Lighters

The traditional general-purpose lighter produces a flame with a lower temperature and a wider surface area than a traditional torch flame. This makes the flame suitable for lighting items such as candles, lanterns, stove burners, and cigars. Most use butane and are refillable. Soft flame lighters have limitations so if you are trying to light dense material, a torch-style lighter is better.

There are many general-purpose lighters on the market today that are extremely durable. One brand stands out. Zippo lighters are extremely popular and versatile, and many people choose this brand for everyday use. These lighters are known for their durability and lifetime use and each lighter comes with a lifetime warranty. Zippo lighters utilize both butane and their own Zippo butane fuel, but they recommend their own for better performance.

Besides Zippo, other traditional brands include - S.T. Dupont, Xihkar, Jetline, and Visol.

Torch Lighters

This refillable lighter produces a jet of flame, rather than a soft flame. The flame is more intense and focused, making it ideal for use in outdoor or windy conditions where a traditional lighter might struggle. As strong as a torch lighter is, it has one major drawback. Most torch lighters use butane, a fuel that does not perform very well in cold weather. To make up for this, many are designed to be windproof and can still function well in moderately cold conditions.

Torch brands include - Zippo, Scorch Torch Skyline Triple Jet Flame Butane Torch Lighter, Guevara Jet Lighter, and WindBlaze.

Utility Lighters

Utility lighters are also known as fireplace lighters. These soft flame lighters are very durable, and most brands are refillable. They are designed with safety in mind, sporting a long nozzle to keep the flame away from your hand while in use. Utility lighters are used to light fireplaces, grills, stoves, lanterns, candles, and other household items.

Utility brands include - Scripto, Ronson, Vertigo, Zippo, and BIC (not refillable).

Electric Lighters

Electric lighters are also known as plasma lighters. They are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional butane-fueled lighters.

Plasma lighters use electricity from a rechargeable battery to fuel the plasma technology used to create a high-voltage electric arc between two tiny electrodes at the tip of the lighter. The arc is used to ignite materials without the need for a flame or fuel.

These rechargeable lithium-ion batteries can be quickly and easily charged via a USB port, making it easy to charge your lighter using a computer, power bank, or any other device with a USB port.

Electric brands include - Suprus, Ronxs, Tesla Coil Arc, and the Dual Arc Plasma Electric.

Cold Weather Lighters

Because butane struggles in cold weather, most lighters on the market can't be used reliably in colder temperatures. Luckily, there are a few lighters that can help if you want to prepare for cold conditions.

Cold weather brands - Zippo brand is the go-to for cold weather use. While their lighters can be used with standard butane, the company suggests the use of their own Zippo butane fuel. This fuel works well in freezing conditions and does not have any temperature restrictions as regular butane has.

Worthington Trigger Start Propane Torch is recommended as one of the best lighters for winter camping.

Butane for refillable lighters

While you can use any generic type of butane to refill a butane lighter some lighter manufacturers recommend using their own brand of butane for optimal performance. You will need an aerosol canister of butane to refill your lighter and most are compatible with refillable lighters. If, however, the stem of the butane can does not fit the refilling valve of the lighter, an adapter will help.

Aerosol canisters are widely available and can be purchased at most hardware stores or online. Some brand names selling butane canisters include Zippo, Ronson, and Colibri.