Cigars 101

The Urge to Purge: How to Purge a Lighter

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Why do you need to purge a lighter?

When you first buy a torch lighter, it does not come filled with butane. Instead, your lighter’s gas chamber is filled with oxygen that needs to be purged by being replaced with butane. Have you ever received a new lighter, filled it with butane, and when you tried to light it, a flame shoots out for a split second and immediately goes out? Well this is because the butane is trying to ignite, but because oxygen is not as flammable as butane, the oxygen from the chamber blows the flame out. To prevent this from happening, you need to purge the air so that only butane is released. Another reason to purge your lighter is to release excess air pressure that builds in the gas chamber, expelling butane from your lighter every time you fill it. If the pressure is not released after each use, it can build and build with every refill, meaning less and less butane will flow into the gas chamber every time you refill it. This may lead you to believe that your lighter just isn’t holding butane any longer, but you’ll see that regular purging will make a world of a difference.

How to Purge a Lighter
Purging a lighter is very easy to do and only requires a can of butane and a paper clip. Simply take your new lighter and turn it upside down. You should see the fuel valve on the bottom of your lighter. While learning these steps, keep in mind you NEVER want to aim the fuel valve towards your face (this you can learn the easy way or the hard way).

1) Take your can of butane and fit the nozzle over the fuel valve. Firmly push down to fill the gas chamber in 5-10 second intervals until it cannot take any more.

At this point, both oxygen and butane are in the gas chamber and pressurized. The butane will appear as a liquid in the gas chamber, and the oxygen is still in its gaseous form. What you can’t see is there is vapor from the liquid butane mixing with the oxygen. The next step will release this mixture, leaving behind a small amount in your gas chamber.

2) Use your paperclip to release the mixture by bending it so one end sticks out like a spear. Turn the lighter upright and use the pointed end of the paper clip to press down firmly on the fuel valve. Be careful because the butane comes out extremely cold. While it won’t give you frostbite, it is pretty unpleasant if you get too much on your fingers.

After you complete these steps, fill the fuel tank again with butane and you should be good to go. If it still does not light, adjust the fuel level to increase or decrease the amount of fuel being expelled each time you press the button to ignite the lighter. Follow these same steps after a few uses to relieve the excess pressure in your lighter and it will continue to take a proper amount of butane during each filling.

In Closing
Lighters make great gifts for holidays, birthdays, and many other special occasions, but if you want your lighter to last as long or even longer than my trusty Nibo, it’s useful to know how to care for it properly. Without proper maintenance the quality of the lighter gradually declines with some damage being irreparable. I always preach that it’s important to learn about cigars in terms of leaf type, flavor profiles, etc., but it’s equally important to learn how to properly use and maintain your accessories. By learning proper use and maintenance, you’re sure to get the best from not only your cigars, but your lighters, cutters, and humidors, too, lasting for years to come. You might even get to the six year mark like me!

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Bubba Poonyuk
6 years ago

I have also noticed that long before a can of butane feels empty, it delivers a weak charge to the lighter. I have a great Jetline 4 jet lighter and just now, with about 1/3 of the butane left I purged and refilled it, The flame takes a few seconds to get strong and you can hear the flapping of oxygen fighting the flame. I have learned to pitch my can of butane soon after it seems about 50% empty. I hate a weak flame.

Johnny Cline
4 years ago

My eagle torch came from store I got it fuel full would this still be an issue ????

3 years ago

Oxygen is several times more flammable than butane..

But you must remember the air here on earth is not pure oxygen therefore on it’s on does not combust.

But think of like a campfire and how it needs oxygen and if you put on too much wood too fast you will smother the fire eliminating the flame. Thibk of bellows and how the blow big gusts of air into fires to make them roar or how you blow evenly into a small flame to make the coals hotter and flames grow. Think of a zippo and why the flame goes out when you close the lid.

Fire being blown out is not because of oxygen it is simply a matter of an air pressure disturbance.

I know this is a nitpick but if it were my site or my article I would want as few falsehoods or inconsistencies as possible whether they were relevant to the main topic at hand or not.


3 years ago

When I release the butane, does it evaporate immediately after leaving the torch? Should I wear a mask when bleeding so I don’t inhale butane? Are there any dangerous effects that can happen when emptying my torch canister. Ex: inhaling old butane that was pressurized

Eric Jason Stokes
2 years ago

Hello. Great thread here. So when a butane lighter is purged it should be held right side up, right? Because most people tell you to purge it upside down like when you are refueling it. Thanks.

Zed Orda Khan
2 years ago

Butane is heavier than most of the contents in common air. Holding it upside down allows to purge the unwanted air from the butane you want to keep in most cases. If purging for storage start upside down then flip to normal so any moisture can also be removed.

1 year ago

If it’s atmosphere gas it mostly nitrogen. Somewhere around 5% O2. I don’t think purging any gas out if your lighter will make a difference. Most of the time the gasm

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and Executive Editor of Cigar Advisor. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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