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Cigar 101

How to Clean & Maintain Your Cigar Lighters

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

All butane cigar lighters require a touch of regular maintenance to guarantee optimal performance. Below, we address the most common butane lighter problems, answer basic questions, and provide some simple tips to keep your lighters in tip-top shape.

Why Did My Lighter Stop Working?

The most frequent reason a butane lighter will sputter or stop lighting is because it’s out of gas. It’s time to inject another dose of butane into the tank. We’ll discuss a few tricks for performing a thorough refill.

Another common cause that prevents a lighter from lighting is that its jets are clogged. You’re more likely to encounter this condition with lighters that do not have a cap to cover the top of the jets. Pocket lint and debris can invade the jets and plug them up.

Also, using unrefined or poor-quality butane can clog the jets. Below, we’ve outlined a few quick and easy fixes to keep your cigar lighters firing on all cylinders.

Purge the Fuel Tank

It happens all the time. You just refilled the tank and your lighter still won’t light. However, did you purge the lighter before you refilled it? Purging a lighter is also called “bleeding the lighter,” meaning you’re bleeding the air out of it.

Every time you inject butane into the tank to refill it, a tiny of bit of air sneaks in. After three or four refills, air accumulates inside the tank and prevents a full refill of butane from entering. As a result, your lighter will produce a sputtering or uneven flame, or even no flame at all, because the tank is releasing air through the jets instead of fuel when you hit the ignition. 

At the bottom of your lighter, simply push down on the fuel valve with a small screwdriver, the back end of a match, or any sturdy, narrow tool you can find. When you compress the valve, a hissing sound emerges. That’s the sound of air and any residual fuel escaping from the tank. When the hissing noise dies down and stops, the tank has been purged. Now, you can inject a fresh dose of butane into the lighter by inserting the nozzle of the butane can into the fuel valve and pressing it in.

Adjust the Flame Height

Before you refill the lighter, though, turn your flame adjuster all the way down. The adjuster is marked by (-) and (+) signs. Turning the setting all the way to the minus side results in a more thorough refill.

Let Your Lighter Warm Up After Refilling

After you’ve refilled the tank, wait for about three or four minutes before igniting the lighter. The temperature of the fuel is very cold when it is first released from the butane can. When the butane enters the tank of your lighter, it cools the entire lighter down. Once the lighter reaches room temperature, it is ready to work effectively again.

Clean the Jets

Regularly cleaning your lighter’s jets is critical. If your lighter doesn’t have a protective cap on the top, lint and debris from your pocket can clog the jets. Even with a cap, periodically cleaning the jets ensures your lighter will deliver a peak performance.

Pick up a can of compressed air, like the kind you would use to clean a computer keyboard. Gently hit the top of the jets with a quick blast or two of compressed air to blow out any unwanted dirt and dust particles. You can also softly swab the jets with a Q-tip that’s been dipped in rubbing alcohol. 

Use Only Highly Refined Butane

The kind of butane you use can make a big difference in both your lighter’s performance and its longevity. There are all kinds of brands to choose from, but there are only a handful worth considering for your cigar lighters. Only use butane that is at least four or five times refined.

Ultra-refined butane exhibits fewer impurities. Fuel impurities clog the jets in a lighter and cause it to wear out faster. Stay away from cheap generic butane, even though it may be more readily available than the brands that work best in cigar lighters. Xikar and S.T. Dupont both produce highly refined, high-quality butane that is designed for use in cigar lighters. Vector is another brand you’ll frequently encounter in premium cigar shops.

Check Your Lighter’s Warranty

If you’re performing regular maintenance on your lighter and it still ceases to function correctly, check the warranty. Many brands, like Xikar, now offer lifetime warranties on their products. The strategy has proven wildly popular and a number of Xikar’s competitors have followed suit in an effort to earn customers’ loyalty. In many cases, you simply have to send your lighter back to the manufacturer and they will send you a new one.

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