Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Items to keep you alive in the event you must evacuate: discussions of basic Survival Kits commonly called "Bug Out Bags" or "Go Bags"

Moderator: ZS Global Moderators

User avatar
Woods Walker
ZS Global Moderator
ZS Global Moderator
Posts: 9404
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2006 5:15 pm
Location: CT

Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Woods Walker » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:16 am

This setup or something similar can be found online. An instructor offers his students a pile of items of which only a limited number can be tossed into an Altoids tin. Once their kits are assembled the students are put in canoes which are rolled. Then they must survive a night in the woods armed with only the tin full of their own choosing and the skills obtained from the instructor. Those who fancy themselves knowledgeable watching this spectacle from the safety of the internet are assured of their correct choice. They would have taken the ferro rod as well!

Say more thread after thread on message boards support this assumption. Disposable lighters are just too unreliable to be trusted. If one is packed there is an understanding that even if an inexplicable mechanical failure doesn't kill the lighter surely any contact with water would render it useless. If not water it will be the cold. If not the cold it will be dirt. The number if ways a lighter will fail are only limited by the imagination of message board posters. Those who pack lighters are doomed to die of hypothermia. Worst still their bodies will be dragged away by coyotes to suffer all manner of indignity.

Fact or bull dung?

It rained hard for the last day or so but there was a good break in the weather. The river was flooded making fishing a no go so substituted a 6-mile day hike to cover a few hours without any responsibilities. Soon the wind picked up and the sky turned gray. No big deal, I was wearing Gortex pants plus had a poncho which can cover my pack. Just as luck would have it the rain stopped soon after putting the poncho on. I really hate that. Strapped the poncho on the pack knowing it would probably be needed again then noticed something in the mud.

Image

Looks like a Bic lighter. Not a totally uncommon find on a popular trail.

Image

Seems like weather and time had it's way with this Bic. Or has it? The Bic wasn't empty so maybe there was hope?

Image

The rain is back and this time it's here to stay. Adding injury to insult the lighter's striker wheel won't turn. It's not looking good.

Image

Poor drainage or swamp land? It doesn't matter. Standing water is what I am looking for.

Image

Only one thing left to do which is the very same thing we are constantly told will render a lighter worthless beginning the deadly chain of events which can only end in death via exposure. Happens all the time online!

Image

Oh yea.......

Image

Cleared out the mud, started to flick the Bic over and over again. No spark..... then one spark..... then more sparks however despite having fuel there was no gas escaping. Worse still the rain kept on falling. Put the lighter in my hands to warm. I wondered if that lighter was under the snow pack for the entire winter? Might never know but Spring is here!

Image

10 minutes later heard the first gurgling of gas. I thought it might be necessary to clear the port using a needle from the PSK but maybe warming the lighter helped or maybe not? After a total of 15 or so minutes the Bic was ready!

Image

Rusty Bic lighter attempt. GO!

Image

Well that was uneventful. A little mechanical flick and there was fire! That's really the advantage of modern firecraft methodology. Nearly instant flames. What other inexpensive firestarting equipment could be pulled from the mud after prolonged rain, washed in dirty water then instantly produce flames during rain after just 15 or so minutes. Granted a flame doesn't equal sustained fire. Granted I am sure there are people reading this who could do the same with a firesteel and natural tinder in like circumstances but remember this is the dreaded disposable lighter responsible for failure and death the world over.

Still hiking. Even this little brook has some good water.

Image

Risking blindness I kept playing with it.

Image

Yup I am tossing this Bic inside a plastic bag to keep it dry. LOL!

Image

Going to use it on future outings. Once the fuel is spent I will convert the lighter into a DIY Spark-Lite. I have used just the sparks from a lighter to ignite items from a FAK or certain natural tinders. Most lighters I found at the very least still produced a spark. Even a dead lighter can have a second life.

The rain picked up during the last few miles.

Image

What's the moral of this story?

1. Don't let some goofy goober online tell you disposable lighters aren't reliable?

2. Don't only carry a lighter because another goofy goober online says they can be reliable?

Am I saying a Bic lighter is better than a firesteel? No, it's not really about this vs. that. I am no master of anything so maybe it is what it is. I think packing at least 3 ways to start a fire is a good idea. I think practice doesn't make perfect but can result in improvement and retention of skills.

Thank for looking.
Image

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing"
"Do not mess with the forces of Nature, for thou art small and biodegradable!"

Best of Woods Walker's posts.

User avatar
JeeperCreeper
ZS Member
ZS Member
Posts: 2525
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:49 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: Twilight... making zombies of our future generations
Location: Yo Momma's House

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by JeeperCreeper » Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:28 am

One of my "prepping pet peeves"!!!! As a former smoker in college, I can say that Bic lighters are tough buggers. Yeah, I have cheap ferro rods and magnesium starters in my vehicle and outdoor bag "just in case" but my primary is always a Bic lighter.

Having washed lighters in my pant pockets for a few years, it only takes a short time for them to dry out. It can be expedited by flicking the wheel to spark it. I have never had one fail due to pure temperature (probably lowest is single digits *F). Have never broken one due to impacts or stepping on or falling on, etc. Maybe wet plus cold will knock one out, but I never ventre into the wild with ONLY an Altoid can. If I do, I screwed up somewhere.

The biggest issue with Bics are lending them to a buddy and him forgetting to hand it back. Then you're screwed.
They see me trollin', they hatin'.... keyboardin' tryna catch me typin' dirty
Halfapint wrote:There are some exceptions like myself and jeepercreeper.... but we are the forum asshats. We protect our positions with gusto
zero11010 wrote:The girlfriend is a good shot with a 10/22.
Her secondary offense will be nagging.

User avatar
TheLastOne
ZS Member
ZS Member
Posts: 3210
Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:06 pm
Location: CO

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by TheLastOne » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:40 am

They are cheap. I keep them everywhere because why not. I also keep farro rods everywhere too because why not. I posted a pic of a bic in that post what's in your fire kit thread :clownshoes:
My actual chance of being in need of fire to survive day to day: not much more than zero. My hiking kit contains at least two fire making components, and I promise the bic would be reached for first.
MF'N Team Leader: Cleveland Steamers 2012
Team Beards&Irons 2013
Image

Black Beard
* *
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:34 am

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Black Beard » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:43 am

Put some insulation tape around the join of the tin and lid and it won’t get wet inside. Easy.

The most important thing about a ferro-rod is that you can start a fire using the back of a huge tacticool knife. I bet you can’t do that with a lighter.

User avatar
raptor
ZS Global Moderator
ZS Global Moderator
Posts: 17060
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:18 pm
Location: Greater New Orleans Area

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by raptor » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:40 am

That is a great post! Thank you!

User avatar
Mikeyboy
* * * * *
Posts: 2265
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 8:00 am

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Mikeyboy » Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:57 pm

I'm also one of those who rarely had problem with a "Bic Brand" lighter and I really wonder why most preppers and armchair survivalist have hard-ons for ferro rods and other sparking fire starters.

Its gotten to the point where some of these goofballs consider a ferro rod as a primary and ONLY fire starter. Let's face its significantly easier to start a fire with the constant open flame of a lighter than it is with the sparks of a rod. Before Les Stroud and Bear Gryllis, Ferro rods, and magnesium fire starters where used in emergencies backups to lighters and matches. More people smoked back in the day and things like lighter and packs of matches were actually pretty plentiful even among non smokers. The odds of you being stuck somewhere and not having access to lighters or matches was pretty slim, but if you were, some emergency kits sometimes had sparking fire starters as backups. Ferro rods make great backups because they are stable, have an infinite shelf life, and will still worked if they got wet, however the are not the best fire starter. Don't believe me, try lighting a candle wick, lump of tobacco or a piece of paper with a firesteel...its no where near as easy as it is with a lighter. Now imagine your life depended on you lighting that candle or lump of tinder.

I think part of the misconception also has to do with cheapo Chinese cigarette lighters. Its been almost 20 years since I smoked regularly. Figure a pack a day...that is 20 successful fires started a day, and some good lighters could last you a few weeks to a few month...unless you are like me and lose it or someone "forgets" to give it back. Cheapo deposable lighters had more of a tendency for breaking, leaking gas, and just not lasting. Bic lighters on the other hand run like Glocks and Hondas, they can take abuse, neglect and use beyond the norm and still work very well. I know Appalachian trail thru hikers who hiked for months in rain, snow, and everything else from Georgia to Maine with two mini Bic Lighters, 1 as a primary and one as a backup, and when they get to end in Maine almost all of them are still using that first Bic lighter.

For me if I go hiking, or camping, or pack a BOB or GHB my primary fire starter is always a Bic Lighter. I do have a Swedish fire steel as a backup...but I only use it for occasional fun and practice.

User avatar
Halfapint
* * * * *
Posts: 4007
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:41 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: all?
Location: Central Cascadia

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Halfapint » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:14 pm

Completely agree! I've found Bic lighters all over and unless the striking wheel is busted it still lights with a little bit of love. I've never understood why people think that ferro rods are better. The only lighter I personally would never trust would be a zippo. I've had a couple wanted to like them but they always dry out, they always are unreliable.

I keep 2 mini Bic's in with my firekit along with a ferro rod. What do I go for when I need to start a fire? Bic.
JeeperCreeper wrote:I like huge dicks, Halfapint, so you are OK in my book.... hahaha
Spazzy wrote:Tell ya what... If Zombies attack and the world ends I'll hook tandem toddlers to a plow if it means I'll be able to eat...

User avatar
duodecima
ZS Lifetime Member
ZS Lifetime Member
Posts: 2951
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:18 pm

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by duodecima » Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:11 pm

Maybe ferro rods got popular because they're harder so you better practice with them, especially if they're your backup? Because somewhere there's a thread here about a situation that nearly went real bad when somebody got wet and had to use a firestarter with freezing cold hands... Heck, matches require a bit of practice and burn out, just ask my kids...

Also, I think a lot of folks (not on this forum) wouldn't think to troubleshoot the Bic like Woodswalker did. And they will eventually run out of butane and be just another sparker.

Great post WW! For teaching those of us who didn't smoke how to troubleshoot a Bic!
"When someone shows you who they are believe them" M. Angelou

User avatar
Phoenix David
ZS Member
ZS Member
Posts: 3110
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:28 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: I am legend, Omega man
Location: Glendale, Az

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Phoenix David » Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:19 pm

Mikeyboy wrote:I'm also one of those who rarely had problem with a "Bic Brand" lighter and I really wonder why most preppers and armchair survivalist have hard-ons for ferro rods and other sparking fire starters.

Its gotten to the point where some of these goofballs consider a ferro rod as a primary and ONLY fire starter.
See I have this magic thing that can make a fire, not some lame Bic lighter that anyone can use, I'm the only one who's professional enough to handle one of these. So sit back in your lazy boy eating Cheetos watching me do cool things while making $1000 of dollars

I am way cooler then you and I have a big ferro rod to prove it.
Nobody ever wishes they brought a smaller gun to a gun fight

User avatar
Sworbeyegib
* * * * *
Posts: 3361
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:15 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: night of the living dead is what started it all for me
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Contact:

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Sworbeyegib » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:13 pm

Bics are without a doubt the gold standard in disposable lighters. I always buy 5 or 10 at a time, and stash them anywhere or everywhere I might need a lighter. Every junk drawer, glove box, backpack etc... I've seen them last for years if used infrequently.

The only time I've ever struggled lighting a bic lighter was when I was trying to use a mini in very cold weather, and I struggled with the little metal safety so much my thumb hurt. Usually I pop out the little child safety thing the second I open my bic from the packaging, but I was at a layover in an airport and didn't have any of my usual stuff.
**Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't**

Image

User avatar
Boondock
ZS Member
ZS Member
Posts: 2691
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:37 pm
Location: Chicagoland

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Boondock » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:38 pm

Horace Kephart would've carried a Bic. :wink:

Dragon80
* * *
Posts: 400
Joined: Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:26 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead
Location: Indiana

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Dragon80 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:54 pm

Great post!!! I use a ferro rod because it's more difficult. When you can make something difficult easy, then you're hardly ever going to be unprepared. This is funny because last summer I saw a lighter propped on a deadfall on a local trail and after about my third or fourth hike by it, I picked it up and it worked. It had been there at least 2 months by this point, but now it's in my pack and still working.
BOB also used for backpacking
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=114606

GHB dedicated thread in need of serious updating!!!
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=112108

User avatar
modustollens
* * *
Posts: 550
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2008 10:51 am

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by modustollens » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:32 pm

I always have several lighters stashed away; even if it is possible for it to fail one has to weigh that variable against its speed and convenience. Obviously, the metal, sparking tool is less likely to fail but it is not as convenient.

I always keep a lighter with a string attached and looped to my pants so I always know where it is. But, and this is important, one has to get a good quality disposable, so I always buy BIC. Cheaper lighters - some of these I have had had a striking wheel that would pop off when one tried to spark up a flame.

MT
Last edited by modustollens on Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My homemade stove:Homemade Backpack Stove
Radio Page: VE3EFQ

User avatar
majorhavoc
ZS Donor
ZS Donor
Posts: 7296
Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 10:06 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later, ZombieLand, Dawn of the Dead
Location: Maine

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by majorhavoc » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:43 pm

The portable means to quickly and reliably produce flame is an incredibly mature technology, one that human ingenuity has gotten thoroughly squared away. The humble Bic disposable butane lighter is pretty much the culmination of that technology.

User avatar
Woods Walker
ZS Global Moderator
ZS Global Moderator
Posts: 9404
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2006 5:15 pm
Location: CT

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Woods Walker » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:32 pm

As stated I don't think it's a this vs. that kinda thing. To each their own. Then again what's a Bic lighter when broken down to it's components? A ferro rod, striker and tinder. Sound familiar? Lets take one tinder, butane and replace it with something else. Myself and a friend removed parts off this empty Bic to start a fire during a winter camping trip. It could work stock but removal of certain parks allows easier striking and access to the spark. So cracked it out today just for fun. I am using cattail fluff and White birch bark.

Image

Empty Bic fire start...... GO!

Image

Again uneventful. I need to go back to friction fire, this lack of drama is killing me.
Image

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing"
"Do not mess with the forces of Nature, for thou art small and biodegradable!"

Best of Woods Walker's posts.

User avatar
moab
* * * * *
Posts: 3878
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:07 pm

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by moab » Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:32 pm

In all my 30+ years of using Bic lighters I have only had one fail. And it came from the factory unable to light. I still don't know what was wrong with it. Or if it could have been fixed. But Bics are still in every piece of gear I carry. And I always go for red. So I can't drop it and lose it. Of there is also a big fat ferro rod in my gear too. If I ever needed to make fire a thousand times over.

Great post. Way to bring us back to reality, WW.
"Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We don't let our people have guns. Why would we let them have ideas?" Josef Stalin

beast1210
* *
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:26 pm

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by beast1210 » Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:48 pm

Agreed, this point is constantly argued on some of my videos, people just regurgitate the same stuff without field testing these claims for themselves. Black owl outdoors has a series where he has placed a bic outside for multiple month testing, so far its going strong at five months I think.
The Adventure starts here.......
http://www.youtube.com/user/beast12101

User avatar
111t
* * * * *
Posts: 1865
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:55 am
Location: OLEAN NEW YORK USA EARTH

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by 111t » Sun Apr 26, 2015 10:32 am

I blame the Doan bar. The Doan bar is a mil spec item designed to fulfill a very specific need for military pilots. It needs to be a waterproof method to make sure fire that is not flammable or susceptible to wild changes in pressure. It does this perfectly.

A ferro rod is a bridge between something more primitive and more modern. It is a vast improvement over a true flint and steel from a functional standpoint. It lacks fuel though. Be it char cloth or butane or naphtha.

There's less to go wrong with a ferro rod. It makes you prep your materials better. From a 'practicing primitive' standpoint it's more 'fun.' The skills developed are not useless.

I consider myself an equal opportunity pyro. I like lighters, ferro rods, msr bottles full of kerosene, and even road flares.
All the best!
-Paul

"A rifle behind every blade of grass?"
"No, but any blade of grass"

Ferrocerium...You know how to spell it... This is how you pronounce it...[fer-oh-seer-ee-uhm]
Bushcraft/Dayhiking Kit
Three season 72 Hour Kit
Ledmark alcohol cookset!!!
New Production Kerosene Pressure Stoves!!!
Car Emergency Preparedness Kit

User avatar
DarkAxel
* * * * *
Posts: 3856
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:25 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: The Evil Dead Series, Dawn of the Dead, Shawn of the Dead, NOTLD, Resident Evil Series
Location: Jackson, KY
Contact:

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by DarkAxel » Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:21 am

Woods Walker wrote:As stated I don't think it's a this vs. that kinda thing. To each their own. Then again what's a Bic lighter when broken down to it's components? A ferro rod, striker and tinder. Sound familiar? Lets take one tinder, butane and replace it with something else...snip...
I saw this firsthand when I spent some time in jail. The inmates used q-tips or toilet paper as tinder. Grinding a small amount of flint out on the tinder before sparking makes ignition a LOT easier.
vyadmirer wrote:Call me the paranoid type, but remember I'm on a post apocalyptic website prepared for zombies.
Fleet #: ZS 0180

Browncoat

Imma Fudd, and proud of it.

ZS Wiki

User avatar
MacAttack
* * * * *
Posts: 2992
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 11:11 am

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by MacAttack » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:41 pm

DarkAxel wrote:
Woods Walker wrote:As stated I don't think it's a this vs. that kinda thing. To each their own. Then again what's a Bic lighter when broken down to it's components? A ferro rod, striker and tinder. Sound familiar? Lets take one tinder, butane and replace it with something else...snip...
I saw this firsthand when I spent some time in jail. The inmates used q-tips or toilet paper as tinder. Grinding a small amount of flint out on the tinder before sparking makes ignition a LOT easier.
I have done the very same thing with just the cigaret.
Grind a little into the tip. strike it and inhale at the same time.
Heck I even used the now lit cig to start our fire for the week end.


I have found over 10 year old bic lighters that still lit and had good fuel. But thats a rare find.

User avatar
Woods Walker
ZS Global Moderator
ZS Global Moderator
Posts: 9404
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2006 5:15 pm
Location: CT

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Woods Walker » Sun Apr 26, 2015 7:35 pm

DarkAxel wrote:
Woods Walker wrote:As stated I don't think it's a this vs. that kinda thing. To each their own. Then again what's a Bic lighter when broken down to it's components? A ferro rod, striker and tinder. Sound familiar? Lets take one tinder, butane and replace it with something else...snip...
I saw this firsthand when I spent some time in jail. The inmates used q-tips or toilet paper as tinder. Grinding a small amount of flint out on the tinder before sparking makes ignition a LOT easier.
The inmates are right. Q-tips work great with just a spark.

Image

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing"
"Do not mess with the forces of Nature, for thou art small and biodegradable!"

Best of Woods Walker's posts.

Orion Drive
*
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:34 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead (1978), 28 Weeks Later, Day of the Dead.
Location: Northern Illinois

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Orion Drive » Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:31 pm

The only time I've ever had an issue with a Bic was leaving it in a bag where somehow it got positioned so that the button was depressed and it lost all it's fuel. Otherwise zero issues with them. Of course if going for style points nothing beats a Zippo, just be sure to keep a Bic handy.
Formerly Cyberdude78 on the FVZA forums.

Thorne
* * *
Posts: 399
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:19 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 days later, Shaun of the Dead
Location: Ontario Canada

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Thorne » Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:10 am

I did have one fail 'explosively' on me... I was tapping out a pipe and it split right up the side... made a little woosh and was over before I knew it. No harm done.

I buy in bulk when they go on sale and typically carry 'pocket' 'pack' 'fak' and 'kitchen' lighters when I'm out adventuring. I prefer a ferro rod for starting up the camp stove because I can fire a spark at it from a safer distance but for everything else I use the lighter.

My only wish was that they(Bics) were refillable.

For show I use a fire piston that I typically call my 1000 year old 'bic'. :D

Random fact: A full size Bic lighter is 17g and contains 5g of fuel.
Education on the value of freedoms reserved by the Bill of Rights should be a prerequisite for being a citizen of any nation. If we can't think for ourselves, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. If citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us.

Carl Edward Sagan (9 Nov '34 – 20 Dec '96)

User avatar
Sworbeyegib
* * * * *
Posts: 3361
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:15 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: night of the living dead is what started it all for me
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Contact:

Re: Disposable Lighters. The Big Lie?

Post by Sworbeyegib » Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:17 am

Often times I use the "bic trick" to open my bottles. It'll dig gouges into the end of the lighter, but I've never had one break or crack yet. I've busted open those cheap see thru disposable ones before though.
**Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't**

Image

Post Reply

Return to “Bug Out Gear”