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Zippo lighter vs. permanent match - thoughts?

Discussion in 'Gadgets & Gear' started by MG_Saldivar, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. MG_Saldivar


    Feb 5, 2005
    I don't smoke, but I carry a Zippo as part of my EDC just in case I ever need to start a fire quickly*; however, I notice that the fuel seems to evaporate after a couple of weeks or so, even if I haven't used the lighter once. I'm uncertain if this is inherent in the Zippo design - I'm sure the fuel reservoir is not airtight - or if the fact that I carry the lighter in my pocket, where it often gets flipped upside-down, is a factor.

    So, I have two questions:
    1. Does anyone else have fuel evaporate from an unused Zippo, or it is somehow my fault?
    2. Would something like a permanent match, or some other lighter with an airtight fuel reservoir (like a Bic?) help me overcome the evaporation issue?

    *Before someone advises me to use a more-reliable firestarter, I should mention that I keep a Blast Match firestarter as well as a block of magnesium in my bug out bag and in my truck's survival kit, so the Zippo is a 2rd tier backup. It seems handy enough if viewed as a less-reliable backup.
  2. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    A zippo is a great lighter, BUT, it need to have the fuel topped off a t least twice a week. The fuel will do a disappearing act. I'd go for the Bic and leave it in the plastic wrap.

    I love my zippo, but I am a pipe smoker, so it gets refueled on a regular basis with use.
  3. Temper


    Oct 30, 2002
    The Permanent Match is great if you are a non smoker and just want a waterproof live flame fire starter. For a couple of dollars they are hard to beat.

    I keep meaning to test mine for run time, but I guess you could get about 40 fires started with one fill if you held the flame under the tinder for about 5 seconds each time.
  4. geothorn

    geothorn Banned by Moderators

    Sep 21, 2004
    Everyday, wherever I go, I carry two lighters with me, all of the time, a regular/standard-sized Zippo and a Bic Classic "Maxi." I smoke cigarettes, and the reason for the two lighters is just in case one runs out, because neither the Zippo nor the Bic have good ways to determine how much lighter fluid/butane gas remains.

    I believe that lighters that use lighter fluid, like a Zippo or a permanent match, all lose their lighter fluid, eventually, through evaporation. Since you don't smoke, it might be best to pack an empty Zippo along with a bottle of lighter fluid, then, when you discover that you need to use your Zippo, fill it up. If you don't want a chemical burn through leaking lighter fluid, make certain not to over-fill your Zippo. I've discovered that an 8 or 9-count of squeezing the lighter fluid into your Zippo will be enough to fill it, but not enough to over-fill it. Your mileage may vary, however.

    My Zippo inhabits the left front jeans pocket, and the Bic is carried in my shirt pocket. My reasoning for the separation of my lighters is that the Zippo is enclosed (though not closed tightly enough to prevent lighter fluid evaporation...) so it can bounce around in my pocket along with my pocket knife and change. The Bic is carried in my shirt pocket because it is, overall, a more empty/less-cluttered pocket, so that there are fewer things to hit the butane-release button, which would waste the butane.

    I have several permanent matches, many Zippos, and many more Bics, but I only carry the Zippo and a Bic everyday. The great thing about this particular combination is that the Bic usually has a sizable flint remaining, after all of the butane has been used-up, so I disassemble all of my empty Bics, remove their flints, break the leftover flint in half, and I have two more flints ready for use in my Zippo! ;)

  5. Lindey


    Apr 13, 2005
    Hey there,
    I've never posted here before but it was a pretty low key evening and to ease the boredom I have just been poking around for some interesting reads in some less explored parts of this forum and came across this thread. I have the same problem with my zippo. IT doesn't seem to stay fueled even with minimal use over an extended period of time. I don't smoke except for the occassional cigar so the only time it tems to get used regularly is on camping or hiking excursions so it sometimes goes a while without use. Recently though I got a weather proof lighter in a Leatherman combo pack I picked up at Costco and it is pretty impressive. It's completely waterproof and wind proof. It lit on the first shot even after being completely submerged. It's butane fueled and the flame is adjustable. Although not as flashy and slightly more bulky than my zippo I much prefer it. Mind you as I mentioned I typically only use lighters for firestarting/camping purposes. Take care all.

  6. GarageBoy


    May 23, 2003
    My perma matches were CHEAP and wouldn't lit up if I didn't strike it at a certain way. Ended up tossing it
  7. powells85


    Nov 17, 2003
    Make a rubber band from a bicycle inner tube (or Ranger bands) to go across the area where the lid and body of the Zippo comes together. I've had good luck with this carrying a Zippo with the fuel lasting well over a month without refill.
  8. Evolute


    Mar 19, 2001
    Permanent matches are much better lighters than zippos for outdoors or emergency type use.

    The main potential liability with permanent matches is that they need to be decompressed every few thousand feet as you gain alititude, or they will swell and burst somewhere from 8,000-12,000 feet above sea level.

  9. wack


    Dec 24, 2005
    evolute i agree, also watch out with your zippo's. i reciently flew up north and about 5 min into the journey i felt stinging on my leg , ends up that due to the elevation my zippo decided to spew out the full load of fluid onto my leg and ended up with a bright red 3 inch round chemical burn to my leg .... small plane with no dunny, i just had to cop it sweet for a hr till it landed
  10. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    Zippos have done the same thing to me driving over 11,000 ft mountain passes in Colorado. This "openness" to atmospheric pressure, I have heard, is also what makes them such a safe lighter. The pressure is released, very slim chance of explosion or anything like that.

    The permanent matches keep the fuel a LONG time, due to the rubber gasket and ability to keep it tight by screwing in the match. However, I've found that if you let them run too long, say, more than 10 - 20 seconds, the cotton in the match chars down to the point that it becomes very, very difficult to re-light. Not enough cotton to catch a spark, I guess.

    Like anything else, I guess, if you take care of them they work pretty well.
  11. MG_Saldivar


    Feb 5, 2005
    Evolute and Wack,

    Thanks for your remarks about the Zippo altitude issue. I live in Colorado now, too, and I have to admit it never occurred to me to think about that. (I grew up on the coast in Texas, where the elevation is about 4 feet, and I never think about heighth above sea level).

    Thanks to everyone else for their comments, too. I think I'll get a permanent match to try out and will probably end up rotating both the perm match and the Zippo in my EDC.
  12. Denix


    Mar 24, 2001
    I solved my Zippo evaporation problem with a Z-plus insert from Blazer. It shoots a wicked jet flame. I'd guess that it wouldn't work as well at altitude though, so it may not be a good option for you.

    I've had a permanent match in my Altoids PSK for a few years now, and it always works when I test it.


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