Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to Resurrect that old Zippo

So, you remembered that somewhere in an old cigar box is your granddad’s trusty old Zippo lighter.  You know the one, engraved with that secondary passion of his besides smoking, whether it was mallards headed towards cattails, the Harley Davidson logo, or his branch of the military.  Odds are it is burnished from years of being daily tucked into his pants pocket or into his Carhartt.  What more fitting of a tribute could you have than to use that lighter, his lighter, each time you get to light up a great cigar.

STOP!  Before you do so, and heaven help you if you flick open a Zippo-style lighter in front of any stuffy purist cigar smokers, pay close attention to a few bits of background and an awesome solution that you've been searching for.


First, purists believe you should light your cigar with nothing other than cedar spills.  I think that’s outstanding but seldom practical.  Setting these aside, the rule of the game is gas!  Butane is the best go-to lighter fuel you can depend on to fire up your cigars, yielding nothing but the tastes of delicious tobacco.  The curse of the Zippo-style lighter is its fuel source.  The ingenious design involves a wick packed into cotton batting topped by a striker wheel and a bit of flint.  The wick is constantly damp with the fuel oil stored in the soaked cotton batting.  When the striker wheel is spun, sparks fly, ignition ensues, and a hypnotic flame flickers to life.  The problem is this method stinks.  No, really, it stinks.  Zippo fluid is fine if you’re lighting up a Marlboro because there’s not a lot of good flavor to that smoke to worry about tainting.  But your Padrón or Toraño have done nothing to merit such abuse.

Among the many reasons why butane is king is that it is dependable and it is nearly tasteless.  It is possible that some hyper sensitive individuals might think they detect some taste from the butane flame.  If that refers to you merely exhale through the cigar once or twice after it’s lit and you’ll purge any residual effect.  To illustrate the purity of butane think of a kerosene  heater compared with a propane heater.  The propane heater (gas) is virtually odorless compared to the kerosene heater (oil).  The same is true with Zippo fluid versus butane.


Now back to your granddad’s Zippo.  Here’s what you do: first remove the insert of the lighter and put it back into that cigar box of memories that you pulled the lighter from in the first place.  You may want to keep it as it is a part of the lighter and may well have sentimental value.  You are now left with the case of the lighter.  Next add a Z-Plus Butane Lighter Insert right into the case.  It fits perfectly, functions the same way as the original hardware to keep the case closed, and you’re now cooking with gas.  This will give you a great lighter that will keep you not only tasting your cigars as they should be, but you also get to keep an old favorite lighter properly in circulation.  

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