A portable fire is super useful. People light their cigarettes and cigars, start campfires, finish their desserts, and even attempt minor repairs with lighters from their pockets. What happens when the flames go out, though? In this article, we’re going to show you how to refill your favorite butane lighter.
What is a butane lighter?
A lighter is simply a small device designed to produce a constant flame. Butane lighters are everywhere. In fact, Americans buy more than 1 billion lighters every year!
There are many different lighters on the market. Cheap lighters with plastic bodies are thrown away by the thousands every day. Expensive lighters can become personal or family treasures. Despite their differences, many of them can be refueled with the same tools and techniques. All butane lighters have a fuel tank, a valve assembly for releasing the fuel, and a lighting mechanism of some kind.
Refilling a cheap lighter seems like a waste of money. You can just buy another one for less than the cost of the fuel. However, if your lighter costs tens or even hundreds of dollars, then you may want to keep it. Maybe your Dad gave it to you, or you bought it on a special holiday. The good news is filling it up is usually really easy.
How do you refill a butane lighter?
Before you begin, you should check a few things. The process is really fast, but it will go even smoother with a little preparation. To get started, make sure:
- You have a refill adapter if you need one for your lighter. Many lighters work well with the universal adapter sold with butane refill cartridges. Yours, especially if it’s a high-end lighter, might not. To check, simply place the butane refill nozzle into the input nozzle on your lighter. If it fits, then you’re good to go. Most lighters are sold with an adapter if it is needed.
- Empty the fuel tank completely. You can use a pin or small screwdriver to press on the fuel tank nozzle on your lighter. You will hear any remaining gas leave.
With those two preliminary steps out of the way, you can get started with the main process of refilling your lighter. Here’s how you do it.
Lower the flame level
Most, if not all, lighters have an adjustable flame level. Cheaper lighters have a small switch on the front you can slide around. Classier lighters have a screw on the bottom. You can almost always find a plus and minus sign near the flame adjuster.
Once you’ve found your flame adjuster, turn it down. Use a screwdriver if you need to do so. Butane gas is cold and can give you frostbite. Turning down the flame adjuster is a small step to take in order to prevent this minor injury.
Adjusting the flame level is quick but there is one thing to remember. Don’t try to force the adjuster to turn too much. If it seems hard to turn, then it is probably already fully open or fully closed. Your valve is really small, and the necessary adjustments are small, too.
Refill with quality butane
Did you know there are different kinds of butane on the market? Yes, there are several varieties you can buy.
There is only one reason to buy better butane: cleanliness. Triple-refined butane burns cleaner. Because it burns cleaner, purer butane leaves behind less residue when it is used. Lower residue means less dirt in your lighter clogging up the valves.
To refill your butane lighter, hold it upside down. Being upside down prevents air from entering the fuel chamber. Then, simply press the butane fuel nozzle, fitted with an adapter if you need one, onto the intake nozzle on your lighter. Your lighter will fill up in a matter of seconds.
If you hear a hissing noise, then you have not fitted the nozzles together tightly. Try to fit the nozzles together better. If this fails, then check, again, if you need an adapter.
After a few seconds, your lighter should be fueled up and ready to use.
Warm up your lighter
After filling, keep your lighter in your hand or pocket for a few minutes. Doing this will warm up the butane in the fuel tank. Remember we said butane was cold and could give you frostbite? Once you put it in the tank, you can let it warm up to room temperature. The fuel will expand as it warms up.
Warm fuel is going to pressurize the tank properly and burn more efficiently. Also, pushing very cold fuel through the valve and into the ignition of the lighter could cause those parts to become damaged due to temperature shock. Most lighters are very robust due to their simplicity. However, if your lighter is a treasure, then why take the risk?
Restore flame adjuster
After refilling your lighter, you can set the flame adjuster back to its proper place. The best flame level varies depending on the model and use of the lighter. Here are a few general tips:
- Unless you need a huge flame, you don’t need a huge flame. Simple, right?
- Butane lighters work differently when you change altitude. If you’re on the beach, then you need more fuel for a good flame. Set the flame adjuster higher. If you’re climbing Mt. Everest, then you need less fuel as you ascend. Set the flame adjuster lower.
- Varieties of butane burn at different levels of efficiency. Change your flame adjuster if your new fuel seems to produce a lower flame than your old fuel.
Light it up and check your results
Once your lighter is warm again, you can fire it up and check the flame. A steady flame is what you want. If your lighter isn’t burning well, then you can try a few of these suggestions:
- To fix sputtering, turn your lighter upside down and bleed any air out of the fuel tank. Press on the intake nozzle with your screwdriver or paper clip. Once the liquid comes out, then stop. No more air is left in the tank.
- If you used non-premium butane, then this may cause the problem. Buy better butane, empty the tank, and then begin again.
The Final Word
Butane lighters are super useful and convenient. You can light up your smokes on the go, use it for your camping activities or caramelize the top of that creme brulee. We hope this article has shown you how to refill a butane lighter when the flames have died down.