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Cigar Tip: Turn Your Zippo into a Cigar Torch with a Zippo Butane Insert

14 Oct 2019

It’s well-known that a standard Zippo lighter uses lighter fluid as its fuel. It is also widely understood—among cigar enthusiasts, anyway—that lighter fluid is ill-suited for cigars. This is because, unlike butane, the preferred cigar ignition fuel, lighter fluid (naphtha) contains chemicals and odors that may alter the taste of your fine cigar. You should avoid it, much like you would avoid using a stovetop, a candle, or paper matches.

In order to modify a Zippo lighter for cigars, the first thing you’ll need is… well… a Zippo lighter. Mine comes courtesy of Zippo from the new Woodchuck USA collection. There are eight lighters in the series, each available in brushed chrome with wooden “emblems” on the front and back. Woodchuck has a “buy one plant one” policy, so each lighter sold contributes to the restoration of forests. Mine, a Compass that retails for $45.95, came with a “find your tree” code that can be entered at the Woodchuck website to see where my lighter’s corresponding tree was planted. In my case, it’s Villamatsa, Madagascar.

Inside the decorative Compass shell is a standard Zippo lighter fluid insert. Removing this is as easy as sliding it out of its chrome shell.

When it comes to replacing it, you have two options: a single-flame butane insert, and a double-flame. The former retails for $14.95, and the latter for $16.95. Both are metal, guaranteed for two years, and—once inserted—equipped with the familiar Zippo snap action.

Out of its package, the double-flame butane insert looks like this. It can be filled (and re-filled) with butane via a valve on the bottom, much the same way you’d fill any butane torch. This is also where you’d adjust the flame size with a small flathead screwdriver.

Installing the butane insert is, as you’ve probably guessed, just as easy as sliding it back into the shell. What you end up with is a stylish, simple, reliable, well-functioning torch. At $62.90 assembled (for the double torch, which is my personal preference) this definitely isn’t the cheapest way to light a cigar. But it’s got to be one of the sharpest. What’s more, and while I’m happy to report back later after I’ve used this for several months, I have every reason to believe this will be a reliable torch for many cigars to come.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys


3 Responses to “Cigar Tip: Turn Your Zippo into a Cigar Torch with a Zippo Butane Insert”

  1. Cigar Seeker Monday, October 14, 2019 at 9:51 am #

    Do the inserts contain all the important lighter “guts,” so that when the flint dies a new insert is all that is needed to rejuvenate the lighter?

    • Patrick A Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 8:13 am #

      They do not. But I am sure those parts can be ordered as needed.

      The real test, in my book, is how long will the lighter properly function under normal use? I will report back after I’ve used this as my primary cigar lighter for several months.

  2. Patrick A Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 8:49 am #

    I received a few emails this morning recalling a post I did back in 2008 about the Zippo Blu. From the folks at Zippo: “The new Zippo refillable butane inserts represent an evolution of the previously available butane fueled pocket lighter product line, with many notable improvements including adjustable flame and the ability to customize any regular-sized Zippo Windproof Lighter with your choice of insert. The Zippo butane pocket lighter, formerly branded ‘Blu,’ was discontinued as of January 1, 2016.”