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Author: Subject: A lighter that lasts
Morgan
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A lighter that lasts

Is there a lighter out there that doesn't wear out so quickly and is wind resistant? I've a handful of piezo sparkers saved from those disposable BBQ lighters. My Zippo candle lighter just bit the dust, the piezo requiring several clicks before it ignites, the spark too feeble as I can see it and have tested the flow of butane. Seems someone should make a battery powered lighter or make one that you can replace the piezo igniter. It's so tiring to have to go through several clicks just to get a flame. I've bypassed the child safety on the candle lighter using a tie wrap but even then when i want a flame I want it the first try.
Some company must make a decent lighter that is ergonomic, long lasting, and not too bulky.
I'm thinking about using a few batteries in a tube with a high voltage device, making my own. My candle lighter is refillable with an adjustable flame so if it just had an enduring ignition I could still use it. Batteries would last a long time if you only used them for a second at a time. Even the piezo on my hefty propane torch is going out and I don't think they sell replacements.
Here's a couple of small ignition systems I have, it's just a matter of mating one to a flow of butane.
DubaiAmateurRocketry
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get a candle fuse for the candle that is dipped in wet 10% KNO3 and 90% Magnesium mix, use isopropyl alcohol, or acetone, so Magnesium have a less chance of reacting with the water, when dried, you can ignite and it will almost never go out.

Finnnicus
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One word. Blowtorch.

Morgan
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The blowtorch I have is pretty ungainly/overkill especially for smaller toys, the torch larger than the toy. And the piezo switch on mine is going out now. I use lighters a lot. I had a cheap Harbor Freight mini torch "creme brulee design" but it started to act up.

Here a piezo works on the very first click but they really aren't good alone to light methanol reliably.

This is what I want to avoid.

It would be nice to own something svelte that doesn't have a planned obsolescence. Probably a high end mini torch is the best I can hope for. The slightest breeze defeats many lighters.

[Edited on 13-6-2013 by Morgan]
Finnnicus
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Not sure if this is what you are refering to in "Creme brulee" design. But you mean the ones for food right? About as big as your hand?

Morgan
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The 90 degree creme brulee torch is not really my favorite design. I'd prefer something more like a small baton or "magic wand" and for the life of me I don't understand why they don't make a battery powered ignition for a butane torch. Gas grills use them with propane. I toyed with one for a gas grill adding an extra AAA battery and it increased the fire rate to a constant Zzzzzzz. I don't know if it could take much more but for a short duty cycle it seems fine. With a better high voltage device added to a robust adjustable butane flame, these qualities along with a small ergonomic size would suit me fine - akin to holding a small lit road flare in your hand if they made such a thing.
Antiswat
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ah come on.. a storm lighter / jet lighter

>>>storm-lighter

one thing: you might wanna be careful holding youre lighter straight at fuses of any kind, as the solids can and will cool down inside the parts of the lighter thats nessecary to function in order for the whole lighter to actually ignite the gas and so on..

~25 drops = 1mL @dH2O viscocity - STP
Truth is ever growing - but without context theres barely any such.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solubility_table
http://www.trimen.pl/witek/calculators/stezenia.html
ElizabethGreene
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I have a Ronson "jet" lighter that has a torch like flame. It's refillable from the disposable cans of butane. I've had it 6 months and love it.

Zippos require refilling too frequently for my tastes. It seems like they are always empty when you need them.
IrC
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 Quote: Originally posted by Morgan Seems someone should make a battery powered lighter

I have owned quite a few starting back in the 60's. Available only at better Cigar stores AFAIK. Always expensive and never very long lasting. Especially from even slight battery electrolyte leakage when you forget about the battery for a long time. Actually that was worse back then as batteries were of lesser quality. They leaked early and often. Anyway the battery is a small one, one I had used a AAA cell, kind of a bulky lighter. Some used obsolete Hg cells. They were the best. High energy density meant long life and I never had to clean corrosion out of them, unlike silver oxide or Ni-Cad's. This was a problem as you could clean the crap out of them and there still was to heavy of a high voltage leakage load. Pretty much lighter is ruined on the first leakage event. In short, they suck. They have always sucked and always will although I hold out hope for Li-Ion technology. Expensive, finicky, prone to failure and in general a pain in the ass. After years of this I started using the quartz butane types you are not happy with. If you look at it with logic, cheap and fairly long lasting (at least a year usually) means buy several. Toss em when they crap out. Better than paying 50 or 60 bucks for one you have to buy batteries for far too often and then toss when it fails (it will, they always do).

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" Richard Feynman
Antiswat
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oh also when you have some lighters that fails which happens even with decent lighters, if its a storm lighter you should take apart the top where theres a tiny tiny chip of platinum metal mesh
you can then dismantle the rest and throw away, the gas container it has still works and you can fill it up, to more than fully remove it you should tape them around a nice 10g HE charge.. gives a nice thumping thermobaric effect.. or well so ive 'heard'

~25 drops = 1mL @dH2O viscocity - STP
Truth is ever growing - but without context theres barely any such.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solubility_table
http://www.trimen.pl/witek/calculators/stezenia.html
12AX7
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FYI, I've got a "Scripto" stick lighter that I've had for... over a year I think. Generic off-the-shelf type I think. Fine for relighting appliance pilots, lighting the grill... It seems to have had a useful life, but maybe I don't use it as often as I think. Not a "wind resistant" type.

I suppose if I were crazy (and I am), I could make a... battery powered Tesla Coil sort of thing, that burns whatever you place near the sparking point. Who needs butane, it's a bastard gas anyway (bonus points if you get the reference)

Tim

Seven Transistor Labs LLC http://seventransistorlabs.com/
Electronic Design, from Concept to Layout.
Need engineering assistance? Drop me a message!
Morgan
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I feel his pain.
"I've been a lighter hoe for years, i'e come to the conclusion that the only piezoelectric lighter that is worth the money are the cheap ones, use them till they quit then buy another."
"I wouldn't give more than $20 for any of them." "That said I have seen$10 ones last for 2 or 3 years, which is pretty good really, I've seen \$100 ones not last near as long.
I don't think I'll ever buy another Cigar torch, this is supposed to be a relaxing hobby, anything piezoelectric I've owned was way more aggravation than it was worth."
watson.fawkes
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 Quote: Originally posted by 12AX7 Who needs butane, it's a bastard gas anyway
Thanks to the miracle of the internet, at 0:25. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FA__4fLBos
Morgan
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The article below describes a lighter circa 1800's that used a battery. I once thought of using a battery myself. Instead of a store-bought platinum catalyst lighter that employs a stairstep method of a high surface area platinum sponge reacting with methanol vapor which then heats the platinum wire it's affixed to and the now glowing hot platinum wire ignites the methanol vapor, a battery would replace the sponge. I thought I might try a small button cell and only make a brief contact if I used a fine enough Pt wire. Although it would be fragile you need only heat the wire enough for it to take over, for it will start reacting with the vapor quite rapidly.
The good old days ...
"On turning the cock so as to open it, a small flow of gas occurs opposite the platinum spiral, while at the same time a rigid projecting piece affixed to the cock bears against a small, vertical metallic piece, and brings it in contact with the brass rod. The circuit is thus closed for an instant, the spiral is raised to a red heat, and lights the gas, and the flame rises and finally lights the burner. It goes without saying that on continuing the motion the contact is broken, so as not uselessly to waste the pile and so as to stop the escape of gas."
(About the middle of the page)
http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/scientific-american/sup2/Dome...
Rosco Bodine
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The electronic lighters used a 12 volt battery about half the length and diameter of a AAA penlight cell that was a stack of button cells in series maybe 8 or 10 of them stacked. Current technology adapted would be 4 lithium cells IMO. The battery was direct hardwired across a low leakage current rubicon electrolytic capacitor 270 mfd IIRC as an instantaneous current boosted supply, so the cap was always charged if a battery was installed. I put a mercury switch in mine in series with the capacitor so that leakage current discharge would not occur when the lighter was horizontal laying on a table, but when picked up would close the circuit to the battery and charge the capacitor in about 2 seconds.

[Edited on 15-6-2013 by Rosco Bodine]
Morgan
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I have one of those Airflam platinum catalyst lighters where unlike the element on one side inserted into the hollow cotton methanol impregnated tube on the other side, the Airflam mounts the Pt wire and platinum sponge inside the wick/tube. In this way you merely have to remove the lid and it poofs into a flame. To me it looks like a lipstick tube. There are two little opposite holes in the side of the tube for convection. I found myself capping the tube immediately after uncapping it to cause it to fire where only the two holes nearer the base could jet the pressure from the ignition. It was like a little piston effect, the cap would kick a little when it fired. As you raised the sleeved lid the vacuum would draw in air from the two holes so you could "pump it" and get it to fire that way too with the lid still on partly. As the methanol gets watery or the wick starts to dry, the lighter becomes less and less responsive.

Another anecdote from the previous article.
"Is there a piezo pipe lighter out there that can be counted on to be reliable and sturdy?"
"I bought one a few weeks ago and it's already become useless. I only paid twenty bucks for it, but still, I didn't buy it thinking it would wear out almost immediately. I've had a small few piezoelectrics in my smoking life and it seems like they've always got to the point where you're clicking like a Flamenco dancer to get the darn thing to light."
IrC
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"You wouldn't get one at a convenience store, but at a jewelry dealer."

I never thought about a jewelry store. I always got mine at cigar stores as I have smoked cigars since 72. I haven't had one since the early 90's because they were expensive and fragile. I could not remember the cell designation until you mentioned 12 volts, it was an 'N' cell. At the time IIRC they were around 8 bucks each and as I stated earlier you had to replace them often. Around 10 volts they were already too low to function, the life was right at the top of the voltage curve. I did find they still worked for a year after that in my sisters key-chain alarm remote for Her Corvette, it would function down to around 8 volts. Those lighters barely worked at 11 volts, the circuit needed improvement. I did have one that used Hg button cells, it was the most reliable model I owned. However they refused to function on other type cells, you needed a really stiff voltage at the top using cells which would fit in the lighter. Mid 90's I put the last one in my junk box and quartz electric butane is all I have ever used since. Matches are tolerable if you burn them a little before you light the cigar, otherwise a chemical taste ruined the cigar. Lighter fluid is out of the question for cigars. Unless you like the flavor of smoking the exhaust pipe on your car.

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" Richard Feynman
Morgan
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I was looking at my Airflam lighter and noticed it only has one hole for air instead of two on the sides. I mistakenly thought/mentioned it had two from memory.
In other news, it seems like those gas grill ignitors that use a AAA battery could be slimmed down enough to have a chance to compete with piezos.
There's a data sheet here on the number of sparks.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/BBQ-Continuous-Spark-Igniter-Gas-Gri...

This E101 10,000 volt EMCO device and battery would probably last a long time if you only ran it a couple of seconds at a time. It too could probably be slimmed down or made cylindrical instead of rectangular. I use a little 9 volt battery which is not that much smaller than the unit itself. It makes a constant spark discharge much more pronounced than the BBQ ignitors. If you just tap the contact to the 9 volt battery it instantly starts. I've run it with a very small wall tranformer too at a lower voltage for several minutes at a time without it getting warm. It's made to go up to 15 volts. I bought mine on eBay. The other high voltage device in the clip below has a built-in automatic shut-off in case it should overheat. It makes a tiny high rate feeble spark if the gap is small but with 6 volts and a two inch gap it's quite the ozone maker. With 2 C batteries it will still make a loud 2 inch spark. It pauses longer with a wider gap or rather not a constant Zzzzzzzz. I over-gapped this one on one occasion and now it's not good for more than an inch and a half. Some high voltage devices like some buzz coils have another gap inside the unit so you can't overstress the coil/idiot proof. Model T type buzz coils are simple but very hardy devices. EMCO may make a cylindrical unit of some kind. For me, I wouldn't mind a small cylidrical baton shaped device. I've owned a few stunguns but they really eat up the batteries and obviously are kind of loud and overkill.
http://www.emcohighvoltage.com/pdfs/eseries.pdf
http://www.emcohighvoltage.com/power-supply-products.php

[Edited on 16-6-2013 by Morgan]
morganism
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Windmill (storm) lighters are about the best i have found, but the small screen plugs up once a year, and now they are charging 25 bucks to clean/replace it.

Used to be a lifetime warranty.
IrC
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Try a cigar store for butane. There is a brand that is more pure, reducing clogging. Don't remember the name as for years I just buy the cheaper cans for my low cost quartz lighters. Sometimes I take one apart and clean it with Hexane but most often just toss it and grab a new one. If you are unaware of the clogging problems the cheap gas like Ronson causes talk to someone in a cigar store. They carry the more highly refined gas to go with their expensive lighters.

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" Richard Feynman
Magpie
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Ever used one of these?

http://www.doitbest.com/Propane+torches+and+accessories-Bern...

It's not sexy or ergonomic, but definitely cheap and long lasting. I've been using mine for over 30 years. I may have replaced the flint once.

The single most important condition for a successful synthesis is good mixing - Nicodem
Morgan
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I've two or three of the Benzomatic flint sparkers and used to use them everytime I used my propane torch.
Awhile back in my quest to study various ignition devices I bought two of these lantern lighters, they make the most interesting torus or smoke ring from the burning flint just by giving the device a quick twist. Somehow the spin/twist launches the ring and it grows to a few inches in diameter rising in the air. I was thinking to make a video of it in fact.
http://www.thefind.com/sports/browse-coleman-lantern-spark-i...
Another thing I tried was taking the jumbo sparker off of a magnesium fire starter and hose clamping the rod onto one of my jam jar snorkelers near the exhaust. Then by striking it with the blade of a knife at the exhaust end where it was mounted, I had hoped I could start them that way, kind of a quirky ignition I know. It didn't work very well. The way it was mounted didn't project the sparks into the intake directly enough.
If you can picture this bottle with these spars for pontoons and the fire starter rod and tiny hose clamp on the snorkel at the exhaust end, that was the plan. It really runs well though, a paintball tank and 5 inch long snorkel/nipple with some methanol in it.

Magpie
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I can see that you have a lighter fetish and that I'm way out of my league.

The single most important condition for a successful synthesis is good mixing - Nicodem
Morgan
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I was driving down the road and happened to recall this account/method when dwelling on flint ignitions.
"To insure high standards of scientific accuracy, I conducted the experiment in my driveway. Aside from Rollerblade Barbie, my materials consisted of several brands of hair spray and - this was a painful sacrifice - a set of my veteran underwear (estimated year of purchase: 1968). I spread the underwear on the driveway, then sprayed it with hair spray, then made Rollerblade Barbie skate across it, sparking her booties. I found that if you use the right brand of hair spray - I got excellent results with "Rave" - Rollerblade Barbie does indeed cause the underwear to burst dramatically into flame."
"(While I was doing this, a neighbor walked up, and I just want to say that if you think it's easy to explain why you're squatting in your driveway, in front of a set of burning underwear, surrounded by hair spray bottles, holding a Barbie doll in your hand, then you are mistaken.)"
"I imagine that whichever toy designer dreamed up this exciting concept has been transferred to Mattel's coveted Bosnia plant."
http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=199...
Morgan
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Another philosophy/making the piezo separate.
MSR MicroRocket Stove and Piezo Igniter