Archive for 27th September 2008

Zippo Vaporlock

It’s actually referred to as a “gas lock” by Zippo. I’ve had the case to my Zippo for nearly 30 years, but the insert’s been replaced multiple times, including once with a butane insert. But what I have now, is not surprisingly a pipe insert. The “chimney” is mostly closed on the top, and there are two large circle openings on either side for the flame when the lighter is turned sideways. You set one of the openings on the rim of the pipe, and draw down into your tobacco.

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Lately, my Zippo has gotten stubborn about lighting. It was taking me 10-20 tries to get it lit, although I knew the flint and wick were fine and there was plenty of fuel. Finally, I thought of a car engine vaporlock, and how the car would sputter, if start at all. So I did a little search and came up with this.

This is from the little manual that comes with a Zippo. “When using your Zippo lighter indoors, open the lid and raise the lighter upward before flicking the wheel This upward movement eliminates gas lock which could prevent lighting on the first zip.”

When the lid is closed the fuel from the wick evaporates and is collected inside the cap. When the cap is opened, that evaporated fuel doesn’t allow any oxygen to reach the wick allowing it be ignited by the spark.

When you go to light your Zippo you should move your hand upward slightly. This movement will push oxygen into the chimney. Another option you can do is to blow lightly into the chimney before you first attempt to light your Zippo.

The new Zippo fuel in the black container does not impart any flavor to your smoke.

By the way, I met a guy once who said he gave up his Zippo because it would “burn” his skin when it was in his pocket. This happens when there’s excess fluid on the outside of the lighter, and the fluid comes in contact with the skin.

There’s an easy way to avoid this. Fill the lighter. Try to avoid overfilling, but if you can’t, you can’t. Close the lighter and rinse it in water or wipe it down with a damp cloth. This cleans the fuel off the outside of the case. Dry your hands, but don’t overdry them, in case you do something stupid. Open the lighter, and flick the spark wheel. If you’ve overfilled it, a huge flame will erupt. Keep the case open, and allow the flame to burn down to a less than insane level. Close the lighter, and wipe it down or rinse it again. Set it on it’s side on a towel to dry. This allows any additional excess fuel to evaporate off of the case.

Oh, the stupid part? I wiped down the case once but got some of the fluid on my fingers. When I went to light the thing, I caught my hand on fire. Fortunately, the damp skin protected me, but it was a bizarre moment looking at all my fingers on fire. This is why I’m an idiot. Keep that in mind when you’re following any instructions I give you.

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