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Old 06-24-2009, 08:03 PM
Prepared1 Prepared1 is offline
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Default Shelf life of disposable bic butane lighters?



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I have a number of these in my emergency and everyday carry gear. I don't smoke or anything, so they rarely get used. How long can I expect them to last before the gas evaporates or they become otherwise unreliable?
Old 06-24-2009, 08:43 PM
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The gas will last for a long time in any decent brand lighter....but the flints, those can and do go bad in as short as a couple of years. Those in the know call it "flint rot". It's oxidation, supposedly.

You can often pick up a pack of Zippo flints, usually Ronson brand reds, off the shelf and upon trying to load one into your Zippo have it crumble to dust. It rots from the inside and the only thing left on the packaging is the hollow paint coating. Gerber had an infamous spat with flint rot a few years back on their Strike Force fire starter. Folks would often open them up after being shelved for a few months or on the store shelf for a year or more only to have the flint turned to dust or eaten away in what looked exactly like woodworm damage. At $20 a pop replacement charge, they quickly dropped the Strike Force fire starter.

On a side note, you can often pick up flint-rotted butane lighters at auctions by the hundreds that have perfect fluid/gas levels in them, just missing flints. I've picked them up for $2 per hundred before. Replace the flints and use them up, though, and you have lighters for literally cents on the dollar.

Bottom line, rotate your lighters just like any other stock. You won't be disappointed.

rich
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:18 PM
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That's interesting, never would have guessed. I just recently tested a flint/mag firestarter I've had for ~6ish years and was fine.

Reminds me, I need to get some spare Zippo flints and wicks anyway. Wonder how long those will hold out. Don't use that lighter much, either.
Old 06-26-2009, 11:40 AM
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I thought all these butane lighters used tiny ferrocerium rods, which do not rot AFAIK.

Why did the Strike Force series have flint rot? What kind of "flints" did they have?
Old 06-26-2009, 11:44 AM
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I have a few butane lighters that use electronic ignition, no worries about flints. but when the butane runs out...
Old 06-26-2009, 11:54 AM
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I've had some baby bic's for a pretty long time that still lit first try. I think that the flint issue must have been resolved at some point (or isn't a problem in my climate?).

Anyway - i think they last a very very long time, but for the cost it just doesn't hurt to rotate gear out every now and then.
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Old 06-26-2009, 08:12 PM
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I have a couple of lighters that are years old. They still work. You will lose the lighters before they go bad.

As for flint rot - never seen it in a disposable. I have seen it a lot of times in wick lighters (such as zippos).

If you want cheap flints, go to a flea market and buy a pack of the cheapest lighters from the chinese guy (there should be one at whatever flea market you go to). 5 dollars for 50 lighters = 5 dollars for fifty flints. It's what I put in all of my wick lighters.

BTW: Worse lighter to depend on is a piezo electric lighter (any torch lighter that ignites with a click). Those go bad very quickly.
Old 06-26-2009, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technojunkie View Post
I have a few butane lighters that use electronic ignition, no worries about flints. but when the butane runs out...
These are the worst lighters. When they break there is no way to repair them, aside from replacing the piezo crystal. They also break very easily from dirt or sand clogging the jet nozzles. They have the life expectancy of a BBQ ignitor.
Old 06-26-2009, 08:55 PM
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Holy Cow. I've got two boxes of Bic lighters, still in plastic. I'll check them One pack is like 5 years old
Old 06-26-2009, 10:59 PM
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Buy extra flints for your Zippo and put them in a small container and pour molten candle wax over them. They will last forever, at least twenty years and counting since I started doing it.
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:36 PM
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I have some Bic disposable lighters that are, at the very least, 12 years old or so, and they still work. Just tested a couple. Worked perfectly.
Old 06-27-2009, 10:37 PM
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I collected Bic's back in the day (I was a smoker) and they last for ever!! Like Change said I've got some that are 10 years old and work great!!
Old 06-27-2009, 10:52 PM
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Same here.
I am cleaning out my shop and found lighters in my tool box from when I smoked over 10 years ago.
Bics and Scriptos. Still worked.
Old 06-28-2009, 01:04 AM
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http://www.geocities.com/glacis02/gerber3.jpg
http://www.geocities.com/glacis02/gerber4.jpg

That's an effected Strike Force fire starter. Those oval grey holes actually extended almost a quarter inch deep into the flint rod and ate away probably a third of the exposed rod by the time Gerber refunded my cash.

(Paul, by the time Gerber asked for it back, the larger holes were approx 1/4" deep into the rod. In pic 3 above, the little oval hole in the center of the rod (third from left) is just visible in pic 4 near the lanyard cord. You can see it has depth to it. That's why I never really accepted the "oxidation" excuse. I used that Strike Force for years before that and you can see it's scraped all over. I'm a "rotate the tires and they last longer" guy. If it were simple oxidation, the entire rod would have rotted. As it was, it looked just like woodworm holes that went deep.)

No, it's not actual organic rot, Bulrush. As I said, most folks believe it to be oxidation. Whatever it is, it effects *all* manmade flints eventually and turns them into a fine grey powder. Anyone that hasn't had them go bad simply hasn't stored them for any considerable amount of time and has better luck than most of us. Zippo flints, Ronson brand especially, you learn to pinch the flints with your thumbnail before buying them to be sure they're solid. Supposedly the painted flints were done that way to prevent oxidation but you always find flints that have turned to powder inside the paint. If it *is* oxidation and the paint coat is to prevent it, striking a Bic to check it would, in effect, remove the very varnish meant to protect it.

rich

Last edited by randkl; 06-28-2009 at 05:13 PM..
Old 06-28-2009, 04:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randkl View Post
The gas will last for a long time in any decent brand lighter....but the flints, those can and do go bad in as short as a couple of years. Those in the know call it "flint rot". It's oxidation, supposedly.

You can often pick up a pack of Zippo flints, usually Ronson brand reds, off the shelf and upon trying to load one into your Zippo have it crumble to dust. It rots from the inside and the only thing left on the packaging is the hollow paint coating. Gerber had an infamous spat with flint rot a few years back on their Strike Force fire starter. Folks would often open them up after being shelved for a few months or on the store shelf for a year or more only to have the flint turned to dust or eaten away in what looked exactly like woodworm damage. At $20 a pop replacement charge, they quickly dropped the Strike Force fire starter.

On a side note, you can often pick up flint-rotted butane lighters at auctions by the hundreds that have perfect fluid/gas levels in them, just missing flints. I've picked them up for $2 per hundred before. Replace the flints and use them up, though, and you have lighters for literally cents on the dollar.

Bottom line, rotate your lighters just like any other stock. You won't be disappointed.

rich

is there anyway to prevent flint rott?
Old 06-28-2009, 01:01 PM
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http://www.xs4all.nl/~eraaij/pics_fi...el_corrode.jpg

Just did two minutes of searching on the web and found this pic. Cracks me up. I hope it does y'all, too lol

http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/sho...d.php?p=398314

Another thread on a diff forum about flint rot. As I said, most folks think it's oxidation. No one's really sure. I've seen hundreds of Zippo and Ronson flints turn to dust still sealed on the card. Gerber suggested oiling their Strike Force lighters, but folks had just as many probs with those and they didn't work as well. I've seen pics of *new* Strike Force lighters, without a single scrape mark, that had been eaten away.

I've picked up ferrocerium rods (flints) off of Ebay and used the same spring and flint in three ruined lighters before.

http://www.x-plane.org/home/furo/outdoor/fcrod-corr.jpg

Do a search on google or yahoo for "ferrocerium rod corrosion" and you find quite a few folks having the same probs.

Like I said, they may last a good while....some won't last two years. ALL ferrocerium rod flints go bad given enough time and the wrong conditions. Rotate your stock like anything else.

richard

Last edited by randkl; 06-28-2009 at 01:07 PM..
Old 06-28-2009, 01:11 PM
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Bic lighters recently seem to be cutting the lighter fluid short in their lighters, what used to last closer to a month has dwindled down to under a week. Has anybody else noticed this?
Old 06-28-2009, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cryptkeeper View Post
is there anyway to prevent flint rott?
See post #10
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:31 PM
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Interesting thread.

I have a blast match that's several years old, I'll have to dig it out of my BOB and look at it. I am pretty sure those are ferrocerium rods.
Perhaps it's better to just pack my old school flint and steel rather than rely on this new fangled stuff.
I wonder how much humidity has to play if this is oxidization.
If it is I am both screwed and saved. I have a blast match in my house in Philippines and another here.
Wild differences in ambient moisture.
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