Learn More About Lighters

When you hear the word “lighter,” do you picture a Zippo? Maybe your mind’s eye goes right to a classic BIC. Well, it’s time to broaden your horizons! There are many different lighters out there, and each is more unique that the last.

From semi-automatic to torch to no flame, here’s a full look at every type of lighter on the planet!

What Were the Early Lighter Styles?

Lighters were invented in 1823, but their popularity really boomed in the United States during the Great Depression. The economy was down, people were feeling low, and many turned to cigarettes and tobacco to make it through.

At the time, there were four styles of lighter available:



Strikers contained a substance known as ferrocerium, which was used to create the spark. Today, you’ll often hear this type of lighter referred to as a flint lighter.


Manual Strikers

Manual strikers are similar to strikers as they also used ferrocerium. The only difference is this type of lighter required the squeezing of a handle to ignite the fuel.



A lighter manufacturer named Colibri is credited for inventing semi-automatic lighters in 1928. These were commonly used for cigars and are still popular to this day.



The first automatic lighter was created by Ronson Lighters. It was called the Banjo and worked when the handle was pushed down. When you released, the spark would disappear.

You can think of these early models as the fuel that gave the lighters you use today their spark! Modern designs and brands, like BIC and Zippo, would never have been made if it weren’t for these original styles.

The first lighter ever created was called the Döbereiner’s Lamp. It was named after its inventor and came out in 1823.

What Are the Different Types of Lighters?

Some lighters are refillable, others are completely disposable. Some have a flame, while others run on electricity. There are many styles of lighters out there, and each one works in its own special way.

The different types of lighter on the market today include:

  • BBQ/Torch
  • Blue flame
  • Butane
  • Capsule
  • Cigar
  • Digital
  • Electric
  • Flint
  • Floating
  • Green flame
  • Naphtha
  • No flame
  • Novelty
  • Vintage
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof


The barbeque lighter is new to the lighter game, having first come out in 2002. It’s well-known for the helpful torch at the end, which makes lighting candles and grills a breeze!


Blue Flame

A blue flame lighter relies on butane and piezoelectricity in order to work. The latter is a combo of pressure and heat and is the same principle that causes your stove’s burner to light blue.



Butane is a type of fuel that comes from petroleum. Zippos and BICs both use this fuel, but there’s one key difference. A Zippo is designed to be refilled, while a BIC is not.



A capsule lighter, also known as a peanut lighter, is a tiny tool that usually comes with a case and keychain. It’s a useful item to have on hand for hiking, camping, or any trip in the great outdoors.



Sure, you can use a standard butane lighter to smoke a cigar. However, it’s nowhere near as cool as using one that has three torches and is specially designed for your stogies!



Spinning that flint wheel is so old-school! In this digital world, you want an easy-to-press button that will create the flame instead.



Think of Zeus and how his lightning bolts started fires. An electric lighter works the same way, creating a spark via electricity. It’s also chargeable with a USB cord.



You can get portable flint lighters from most stores, but fun fact, they’re also used in Bunsen burners and welding torches!



The floating lighter has a waterproof design and is, as its name suggests, completely buoyant. You can have a pool party and impress all your friends when it floats in the water!


Green Flame

Like most lighters, this style uses butane in order to work. The only difference is the butane interacts with a copper coil, producing the trademark green flame.



Naphtha is a fuel that contains a high amount of chemical energy, It’s the very same fuel that’s used for power stoves, lanterns, and heating units.


No Flame

How can a lighter have no flame? Easy! It uses a rechargeable electrical current instead. You’ll also hear this style referred to as an electric lighter or windproof lighter.



A novelty lighter is any lighter that’s in an unusual shape. While they’re fun to look at and serve as an easy conversation starter, they’re illegal in some states due to their toy-like appearance.



A vintage lighter is any lighter that came out between 1823 and 1980. Ronson, Zippo, and Colibri were a few of the most popular brands in this time period.



Active people who spend a lot of time outdoors would get the most from a waterproof lighter. It can stay in your pocket for rainy hikes, scuba diving, or extreme jet ski rides.



A windproof lighter, or a no-flame or electric lighter, is specially designed to not blow out. This makes it a great choice on a breezy spring day!

You may have noticed these types aren’t mutually exclusive. For instance, you can have an electric lighter that’s also considered windproof or a vintage lighter that uses butane.

No matter what, it’s worth knowing all your options if you’re looking for a new lighter. You can pick one type for cigars and another for extreme water sports. It’s completely up to you!

What Are the Most Popular Lighter Brands?

BIC and Zippo are the most popular lighters brands, but there are a ton of other names that are well-known and loved.

The full list of popular lighter brands includes:

  • Alfred Dunhill
  • BIC
  • Black Label
  • Calico
  • Clipper
  • Coleman
  • Colibri
  • Lotus
  • MK
  • Ronson
  • Scripto
  • S.T. Dupont
  • Xikar
  • Zippo

You might not be very familiar with all of these brands, but that’s okay. It’s worth knowing how each one looks. Here’s a quick overview!

If you’re interested in cigar lighters, S.T. Dupont or Colibri might be the brand for you. Do you just want something affordable? Grab a BIC or Scripto instead!

There is a wide variety of lighters for you to choose from, so think about the type or style you need.

What’s the Difference Between a Refillable and Disposable Lighter?

You have two choices when it comes to lighters: refillable or disposable. A disposable lighter is designed to be used only until the fuel runs out, while the fuel inside of a refillable lighter can be replaced when there’s none left.


A disposable lighter can be used up to the point where a spark is no longer being created. Afterward, it should be disposed of at a hazardous waste collection site so it doesn’t end up in landfills.


A refillable lighter has a valve at the bottom that can be removed and filled with more fuel. You can buy this fuel separately and carefully put it inside the lighter.

Refillable lighters are the more eco-friendly choice, while disposable are the more affordable. Both come in a variety of eye-catching styles that make them fun as gifts, souvenirs, or wedding favors!

How to Refill Lighters

Each refillable lighter works a little differently, but they more or less follow the same steps.

This is how to refill your lighters:

  1. #1: Remove the valve at the bottom of the lighter.
  2. #2: Let out any remaining air by putting a thin screwdriver into the valve.
  3. #3: Insert the stem of the fuel can. This has to be bought separately, and it’s important that you get the right type of fuel.
  4. #4: Wait 3 to 5 minutes before using your lighter.

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s website for more details on how exactly to fill your lighter up. Every brand is a little different, which means you should do your homework.

No matter what, though, always be extra careful while refilling your lighters*. The last thing you want is to suffer any burns!

*DISCLAIMER: Quality Logo Products® is not responsible for any harm caused while refilling your lighters. If you’re at all unsure of how it’s done, it’s best to speak directly to the manufacturer.

The BIC lighter provides up to 3,000 flames before running out of fuel. It’s technically not designed to be refilled, but some users have found hacks that make this possible.

What Can Lighters Be Used For?

You should always have a lighter at home or in your bag. They come in handy if you’re trying to do any of the following:


When lighters were first invented, they were designed specifically for cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. Today, smoking tobacco is no longer as common, though legal cannabis has steadily been on the rise.


A lighter, particularly a BBQ or torch lighter, comes in handy for your backyard barbeques. It’s the easiest way to fire up the grill and get those burgers going!

Lighting Candles

Candles are a must for birthdays and relaxing at home during the weekend. A good lighter makes it so much easier to create that flame!

Igniting Fireworks

The best celebrations, from the Fourth of July to New Year’s Eve, have fireworks in the sky. These sparklers are lit with a little help from a lighter.


Not everyone knows how to make fire from sticks and stones. A lighter is handy for those bonfires, or at the very least, making sure the lantern stays nice and bright.

Putting on Makeup

You can turn your kohl eyeliner into gel liner simply by holding the tip above a lighter. Wait about five seconds, or until it’s cooled, before applying so you don’t get burned.

Opening a Bottle

If you’re in a pinch and don’t have a bottle opener available, you can use a lighter instead. Simply turn it around and use the bottom to pop off the cap.

Listening to Music

It’s common to hold up a lighter at a concert in support of your favorite band or singer. Make sure yours is ready for the power ballads!

The Bottom Line

The lighter is one of those items you can’t be without. You need it for celebrations, like birthdays and holidays, and everyday activities like cooking and burning candles. Figure out which style is best for you and get to lighting!


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About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.