"Cold-filling" butane lighters

by Gary Korb

Q. Sometimes I have a problem getting my butane lighter to fill properly when I have to refuel it. Any suggestions?


A. First, make sure you've released all of the excess air from the lighter. Air bubbles are a common problem which can prevent the flame from igniting properly, or can prevent the lighter from filling completely. Using the tip of a large paperclip to depress the filling valve will help release all of the remaining air in the chamber.

But the following tip from one of our readers, Ray Woolums in Indianapolis, may also come in handy: "Plastic lighters will sometimes crack when filled while warm. I find the lighters refill more efficiently when chilled."

So, the next time you have to refill your butane lighter, remove (or "bleed") all the excess air as I described above, put it in the freezer for about half an hour, then fill it. Just make sure you give it enough time to warm back up to room temperature before lighting your cigar.

Because the pressurized butane is so cold, even if you fill your lighter at room temperature, you should always wait a few minutes before lighting-up. Holding the lighter in your hand for a couple of minutes will also do the trick.