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Zippo butane inserts

Discussion in 'Other Every Day Carry Items' started by bj warkentin, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. bj warkentin

    bj warkentin Loaded Pockets

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    Firstly, I realise I am probably beating on some fairly scared cows here but I personally cannot live with the performance of a standard zippo. I dislike the fuel smell, and I down right despise the fuel evaporation issue.
    Having said that I love the form factor, the fiddle factor, and the huge range of zippo cases available.

    I am not a smoker, and don't use a lighter daily. I don't need one that survives river crossings, demolition derbies, or reliably lights in howling blizzards. I do realise that the humble bic addresses almost all my needs. However, the humble bic is a nasty, utilitarian piece of crap plastic. I am not a big fan of plastic, and I dislike the fact that it does not have a closed case form factor. I want to pocket carry it and hate that a bic lighter gets filled up with pocket fluff.

    Thus my question. A decent functioning butane insert for a zippo would address my need for metal, for a closed case, for aesthetics, and generally make me happy. Having said that the question becomes, which butane insert? I don't need the turbomatic 9000 (I have a bunch of torches for that) I just want a flame. A bic lighter sized flame is plenty. However, I want the reliability and longevity of a bic, it should just work, no muss no fuss. Open, flick, fire no matter if it was filled yesterday or months ago.

    Given that list of requirements, which is the best insert?
     
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  2. Daveho

    Daveho Loaded Pockets

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    Yeah real talk, zippos kinda suck. thunder bird inserts are meant to be good, like u I have a zippo but don’t smoke, I have a small canister of fuel with an o ring seal which means it’s there should I need it but I tend to use the fuel more for cleaning than fire starting..

    Zippos can actually be really just awful, I have heard of people suffering burns on the legs from leaking fuel, anecdotal yes but in addition to the known sub par performance it’s just not worth the trouble.
     
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  3. Gary Gross

    Gary Gross Loaded Pockets

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    The Z-Plus Torch Flame Lighter Insert is a simple drop-in. No mods required to it or the original Zippo. They're a little finicky sometimes but still the best solution I've found. I keep a couple filled up to switch out to whichever lighter is in rotation.
     
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  4. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    I have a Zippo into which I dropped a Thunderbird set up for pipes. Works flawlessly.

    When I was researching these things, one of the take home lessons appeared to be what sort of flame you want. Inserts that give a soft butane flame seem to perform much more dependably than the torch styles (i.e., with a 'hard' flame). Which for me as a pipe guy, is just what I need anyway!

    For what its worth, I have gone through cycles as a cigar smoker; had several butane torch type lighters such as Calibri and a few others. These all used a 'piezo' ignition rather than a wheel and flint as does the Zippo or my soft flame Thunderbird. All of these gave up the ghost; I couldn't even get them serviced. The old wheel and flint soft flame lighters just keep on trucking'!

    Just like Bics do!

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
  5. Tallboyjim

    Tallboyjim Loaded Pockets

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    I've got a "soft flame" thunderbird insert. I'm an ex-smoker and it's a cool thing for sure - a zippo you can leave in drawer and it works months later!

    I have one bug bear with it. Filling it. I'm in the uk so haven't splurged on specific thunderbird gas so I'm finding the fittings a bit hit and miss on the cheap gas I buy. Because the plastic that holds the gas is thick, I find it hard to see how much needs filling etc etc.

    I would buy one again though.
     
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  6. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    I find that I can see how much liquid is in the tank best if I DON'T backlight the tank. Counter intuitive I know; I found the hint on a forum posting and found it worked for me.

    You don't absolutely need Thunderbird brand butane; but you do need highly refined butane. One of the issues with all butane lighters seems to be the cheaper stuff has just enough junk in it to either clog the works or not burn clean -- which will then clog the works. Have you tried Amazon UK to see if they have what you need? Amazon US does.

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
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  7. Westerdutch

    Westerdutch Loaded Pockets

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    I have a Thunderbird style insert in my Zippo as well. Flint ignition and the flame stays lit as long as the lighter is open without having to keep a button pressed down. So all of the function, most of the reliability (that turns into more reliability if you take evaporation into account) and none of the downsides of ye old Zippo insert.

    Playing with the lighter will make the gas escape tho as you open the valve every time you open the cap... Still no worse than the regular fuel in that case tho.
     
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  8. Tallboyjim

    Tallboyjim Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for that sir, I'll have a look.
     
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  9. SOS24

    SOS24 Loaded Pockets

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    I too love Zippos for all the reasons you mention and dislike for the same reasons. I have Thunderbird inserts as others have mentioned. I have both a soft flame one (looks like standard zippo flame) and a single torch one that I swap between for different purposes.
     
    #9 SOS24, Dec 6, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
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  10. bj warkentin

    bj warkentin Loaded Pockets

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    Looks like a Thunderbird soft flame insert is in my future. I like the "stay on when open" option and have real torch style lighters for doing serious flame stuff.
     
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  11. Lellobeetle

    Lellobeetle Loaded Pockets

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    I'm going to get a torch flame insert for mine soon.
     
  12. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    Just pay close attention to what is recommended for the ultra-pure butane on the torch flame versions. Whether due to the piezo electric start or the design of the burner, these are reported as being much more particular when it comes to impurities!

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
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  13. Lellobeetle

    Lellobeetle Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks very much, brother! I use Zippo brand fuel. It says "clean burning" but that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't have as many impurities. What are your thoughts?
     
  14. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    I think Zippo has been making that claim since Zippo existed... Would not expect it to meet the requirements of piezoelectric mechanisms usually found with torch type lighters. Usually the kinds of butane used/recommended for torch lighters appear to be the product of triple or even 4X distillation procedures. Often branded by the lighter maker. Besides Thunderbird having their name on one of these ultra pure butanes, Calibri (a maker of lighters aimed at cigar smokers) have their own butane.

    Thunderbird butane is available on Amazon; you could also go into a good/reputable cigar shop in your area and they'd be able to give you good insight and probably sell you some butane!

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
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  15. Westerdutch

    Westerdutch Loaded Pockets

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    Check out your local electronics store if you need a clean burning fuel. If its good enough for a gas-powered soldering iron then its good enough for a lighter. Ive been using that stuff in my blazer pb-207 and its one of the few fuels that isn't unreliable. All the cheapy other stuff goes in my soft flame thunderbird-esque zippo just fine but the blue flame burners are indeed more picky.
     
  16. Scrumbag

    Scrumbag Loaded Pockets

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    I have a Zippo "Z-plus" and quite like it

    ATB,

    Scrummy
     
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  17. drrobinson

    drrobinson Empty Pockets

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    Also using Thunderbird inserts. I have three of them, all have been flawless. I also use their “quadruple refined” butane, what ever that means. Seems to be reliable and clean burning.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  18. Daveho

    Daveho Loaded Pockets

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    I’ve got an insert on the way, I have to say I’m looking forward to being able reliably use a zippo..
     
  19. ackeith4570
    • +1 Supporter

    ackeith4570 Loaded Pockets

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    I have the Zippo z-plus and I like it.