I have used many types of stove over the years- white gas (Colman), gas, paraffin (kerosene), petrol, even diesel in an omnifuel stove once (just once, never again!) I only ever used hexamine blocks in army days. However my preference for most trips, where I will be cooking, is meths (denatured alcohol).
I have a number of beloved Zippo lighters sitting around the house from my days as a smoker. One of my most sentimental possessions is the old brass Zippo my dad used to have. None of these are in any way suitable for backpacking use when using meths as they are too bulky, run out of fuel too quickly and are pretty hefty too. What is required is one of the lightweight butane gas lighters. There is a butane Thunderbird insert for a Zippo but one of the plastic disposables weighs a tenth of that.
There are a lot of disposable lighters on the market. The range of models from any one maker is huge and my experience of what is available from this huge offering is obviously minuscule. But I have explored, slightly, a handful of the options available to me.
For quite some time I have simply used an Original Cricket Lighter. In 1961, Cricket were the first company to release a disposable lighter on to the market and, in common with just about any other brand out there, they all work pretty well.
There are various offerings from the brand. The one that has sat in my cook kit for years (these lighters really do last a long time) was given to me in a pub, advertising the UK chain of public houses. Mine is the Original model, long and slim, to sit in a pack of cigarettes, not that I am a smoker these days.
Cricket do make a small version of their full size offering, however I went with the mini Bic lighter when I was looking to shave off a couple of grams. Though actually, my only saving was a single gram! But the slightly smaller presence of the mini lighter is an equally mini-bonus I suppose. Bic are a far younger producer of lighters, having only purchased the French lighter manufacturer Flaminaire in 1973, however they dominate the disposable lighter market. Well known and respected for good reason- cheap, reliable consistency. So good are their mini lighters that I carry a spare when backpacking.
I have found on occasion when lighting my little Speedster stove that I can burn my fingers in any sort of breeze as the flame drifts around a little. So I went looking for one of the ‘turbo’ or jet lighter options. There are a lot of these available but for the past year or so I have been using one of the Euroflame models from Italian supplier Afruni. I can’t find a lot about this company online but as to the lighter itself, I liked the jet flame produced, which aided sideways lighting of my stove. I also like the flip top cap on the lighter. Which I felt may prevent debris from clogging the nozzle. However not only do I feel that keeping the lighter with the cook set obviates slightly the need for a cap to the lighter, but, in common with many other turbo lighters on the market, my lighter was too heavy at 34g, even if it is possible to refill this option. The piezo ignition is another step above the simple flint striker on my Bic and Cricket options but both those manufacturers also offer piezo alternatives now.
What I have settled on is one of the 20g offerings from Torjet. This is supplied by Tor Imports who were founded in 1992 to supply cigars and smoking accessories. Yet another cheap ‘n’ cheerful product that does exactly what it sets out to do. I am keen on the refillable aspect of these lighters. When you reflect on the fact that Bic have sold over 30 billion of their disposable lighters, anything we can do to reduce this landfill just slightly can only be good.
The lighter is refillable and has piezo ignition. The jet nozzle is closed and protected when not lit. It has a long slim profile that fits in the hand well. It lights well and has never failed me.
All that said. It makes sense to be prepared and I do carry a spare lighter with me. There is no need for another Torjet however so a bright red mini Bic is my back-up. A bright colour lighter makes sense as they show up well in the grass when cast to one side while cooking.
99% of the time I use my lighter as a lighter, simply pressing the ignition and sending a red hot jet of flame in from the side. For those odd times where I want to be a little more distant, usually for a wood fire. I wrap a couple of metres of Hemp Wick round the Torjet lighter. Not only does this provide a better grip in the rain, but it is handy to pull off a couple of inches, light it, and it then works as a handy, fairly slow burning wick. This will not work in any sort of strong breeze and needs the good shelter provided by my Caldera Cone. The Hemp Wick is not required often, but is there if required.
I only occasionally use the Inferno insert to convert my Caldera to wood burning mode and can see my Hemp Wick being helpful at lighting this at times, either catching the end of torn paper, grass or a smidge of Hammaro tinder card.
I note that Thunderbird make a jet style ‘torch insert‘ for Zippo lighters, I just have to refrain from indulging myself…