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#15988 - 05/15/03 04:41 PM Zippo vs. Butane
Anonymous
Unregistered


I have a trip coming up that will put me in the middle of the woods for a few weeks, and I thought it might be a good idea to review what I've got and what I need. One of the items that I am considering upgrading is my lighter. I am a smoker, so I always have one on my person, as well as a magnesium fire starter packed in with the rest of the gear.

I have, for years, used a Zippo, but reading one of the articles here has me thinking about going to a refillable butane type. Although the Zippo has served me well, I can't help but to look in envy at the more windproof, and mostly water resistant refillables like the Windmill by Essential Gear. For my upcoming trip, I could obviously take both (which I may, for a real world comparison), but for my everyday carry, which would be better suited? The environmental ruggedness of the more expensive butane lighters is very appealing, as is the piezo-electric ignition and the hotter flame. On the other hand, the Zippo offers the advantage of built in emergency tinder (fuel soaked cotton), small but usefull flints (they still produce usable spark even with no fuel), the limited ability to function as a signaling device when polished, and in a pinch, the ability to use alernate fuels. Since I carry one every day, fuel evaporation is not a problem.

In an urban environment, both types of fuel are readily available, but the butane is perhaps safer and easier to transport. In the wilderness, neither one is good with no fuel. So for an extended stay, I wouldn't count on either one. In a sudden survival situation, which is the one that really matters, I am torn between the two. The zippo seems to have multiple uses, but the butane is more durable.

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#15989 - 05/15/03 05:26 PM Re: Zippo vs. Butane
Anonymous
Unregistered


Full vs. Full:

Zippo I believe that the zippo will spark more fires (dis-allowing evaporation), The zippo fuel can be used on other tinder to make it more flamable (Just try soaking a bit of punk wood in butane before lighting it with your bic), The zippo can use stove fuel or other available fuel so you can carry only 1 fuel for multiple purposes,

Butane It will not evaporate, it will be more weather resistant, it is lighter, The sparking mechanism of bic lighters is more accessable if you are out of fuel and making a spark-lite alternative - not so of the peizo lighters, the peizo lighters won't spark sufficiently to light anything other than butane, some butane lighters will burn at soldering temps - Not sure why you'd need this - but they run out of fuel much faster TANSTAAFL.

Empty vs. Empty:

Zippo The sparking wheel is usable and peizo sparks aren't (see above) The Zippo "tinder" may still have enough fuel to light (BTW, this isn't usually cotton but rather something more resembling glass wool so if it lights it is only the fuel that is burning.), The Zippo can be used as a mirror?

Butane has no advantages here unless you have one with a spark wheel - though the spark wheel versions are not much better than zippo for weather-proofness.

Stored:

Zippo Don't count on a stored zippo because of evaporation.

Butane Butane lighters will store for extremely long periods and be useful. Butane is lighter and usually smaller for storage and kit-type EDC.


I suppose its mostly a matter of preference. I wouldn't want to depend upon a zippo that doesn't see daily use because of the evaporation problems. I would expect a stored zippo to be empty when needed. In a kit I depend upon matches and butane because both will work after extended storage. OTOH, don't depend on any daily use lighter unless you top it off before heading out - butane gets used up with daily use also.

Beware of butane lighters with bunches of extra functionalities. All those other gadgets, watches, knives, flashlights, compasses, altimeters, rain-guages etc take up space that would be better used storing more fuel. Most of the lighters I have seen with extra functionalities are either too bulky or contain so little fuel as to not get through two packs of cigarettes without needing refill.

YMMV.

Enjoy your vacation!

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#15990 - 05/15/03 11:17 PM Re: Zippo vs. Butane
Schwert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/13/02
Posts: 905
Loc: Seattle, Washington
MiniMe has done a good rundown, but I have a couple of other points.

My expensive piezo-electric butane lighters commonly do not ignite at high altitude. The fuel/air mixture seems to be incorrect. Spark wheel butanes do work for me at altitude.

My Zippo has real cotton wadding. I confirmed this by removing a small portion and igniting with a spark rod. It burned completely with the odour of wood not melting plastic or unburnable glass wool etc. The residue was consistant with cotton, dark brown ash.

I think cheap butanes are a great thing to spread through your gear, while you keep your Zippo for everyday use.

I do not smoke, so my Zippo needs topping every week.....an easy thing to forget, but it is essentially useful empty where a high end butane is not.

I avoid the high price piezo electrics as I am at high altitude often enough for this to be a problem.

I carry, Swedish firesteel and cotton/vaseline tinder, Silva matchcase with strikeanywheres, and a saran wrapped Zippo On-body. Additionally I have a small flint butane in my PSK, stove kit, etc and other BSA rods.

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#15991 - 05/16/03 01:17 PM Re: Zippo vs. Butane
NAro Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/15/01
Posts: 493
I second what MiniMe and Schwert are saying, and I hang out at a store where lighters are sold and repaired. Fuel evaporation is virtually the only reliability problem I'd worry about with Zippo. But I carry a few little butane lighters for backup.

There are two alternative work-arounds for the Zippo fuel evaporation problem. 1) Zippo sells an aluminum o-ring sealed travel fuel bottle which holds around 3 fills. It can hang on a key ring. I've verified that it will hold fuel with no evident loss for 2-3 months. It isn't much bigger than a roll of lifesavers candy.. cost me around $12.00
or..2) Check out the AUSTRIAN Army Surplus lighters sold by Cheaper Than Dirt from time to time. They are flint/fuel lighters, and for some reason (they seal very tightly) they hold fuel with no evident evaporation for 2-3 months. Verified across 4 users and 8 lighters, so far! Cost only $5-$6 each.

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#15992 - 05/16/03 02:03 PM Re: Zippo vs. Butane
ratstr Offline
@
Member

Registered: 09/07/01
Posts: 181
Loc: Dardanelles
I am a dedicated smoker (cigarettes, pipes) and I had used a zippo for many years till I found this lighter:

http://www.dutyfreetobaccos.com/shop/lighters/pockettorch.htm

I fill it around once a month and use it at least 30 times a day. I have used it for soldering purposes, heating needles and -just for trying once- for boiling water in foil. It has a flame lock so you do not need to keep pushing the button for long. (or just you want to throw it on leaking gas to blow up bad guy's car <img src="images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> ) Also the flame is narrow like a real torch and you can point it at somewhere easily. It burns long and hot enough to dry wet tinder etc. I have been using it for about three years outdoors and indoors. If you can find something similar go for it.

Burak
Istanbul

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#15993 - 05/16/03 05:06 PM Re: Zippo vs. Butane
Anonymous
Unregistered


I have a similar butane torch that I got at a convenience store. The large fuel resevoir is truely an advantage. I also have found it to last a while. Does yours have flint ignition or Piezo?

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#15994 - 05/16/03 06:07 PM Re: Zippo vs. Butane
Anonymous
Unregistered


I rescently purchased this lighter and so far i'm not very happy with it. It always takes 2 flicks to get it lit, so gas is wasted....Well, thats the only fault. It does give a hot flame. The best thing about it for me was the price. It cost only 5, that website seems really expensive.

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#15995 - 05/16/03 09:34 PM Re: Zippo vs. Butane
Schwert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/13/02
Posts: 905
Loc: Seattle, Washington
NAro,

I had never heard of these fuel canisters before....neat find.....I need to find one of these ASAP. Thanks

http://www.zippo.com/products/accessories/canister.html


[i]from the site[i]
Take along an extra refill of Zippo premium lighter fluid. Reusable personal-sized aluminum canister holds enough fuel to fill one Zippo lighter.

The fuel canister is every Zippo lighter enthusiasts dream! Measuring just 2 1/2" long, the brushed aluminum canister makes a great addition to your key ring or could be placed in your pocket or purse.


121503
Fuel Canister




Edited by Schwert (05/16/03 09:34 PM)

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#15996 - 05/16/03 10:15 PM Re: Zippo vs. Butane
Anonymous
Unregistered


buy one here

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with the above linked retailer just found them with a quick Google.

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#15997 - 05/20/03 05:49 AM Re: Zippo vs. Butane
ratstr Offline
@
Member

Registered: 09/07/01
Posts: 181
Loc: Dardanelles
There are imitations on the market less than half the price. I had paid around 35 $ when I bought it. Try to tighten the flame jet if it is moving.

Burak
Istanbul

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