A: Though I used to be skeptical about this, the quality of the butane does make a big difference in the performance of your lighter. As to whether the fuel goes “stale,” I’m inclined to doubt that, especially if it’s used within a reasonable amount of time. The reason your lighters may have been working poorly is, you may have been injecting more propellant into your lighter than liquid fuel. This tends to happen when you 1) shake the can before refilling – a big no-no – or 2) get down to the bottom of the can. It may be why the new can did the trick.
Finally, the more filtered the butane is, the purer, and the fewer problems you’ll have. IOW, don’t buy the giant can of cheap-o butane thinking you’re getting a great value. Stay away from “all-purpose” butane, and brands made for grilling, too. Go for the good, triple-filtered butane from companies like Xikar, Colibri, and other makers of “premium” butane (some are even quadruple filtered) if you want to extend the life of your lighters.