Cigars 101

Why you don’t shake a can of butane when filling your cigar lighter

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Q. I was at my local cigar store the other day and bought a new cigar lighter. The counter man also offered to fill it for me and I noticed that he shook the can before inserting the needle into the lighter. Since the gas in the can in compressed, is this really a good idea?
– Norman in Rhode Island


A. You’re timing is excellent for this question, since I just read about this very subject in the “Kurt’s Corner” newsletter I get from In an article titled “Don’t Shake That Can,” Kurt Van Keppel & Scott Almsberger shed the following light on this practice, which I’ve seen many other cigar smokers do, and have even been guilty of myself:

Through form of habit we often shake a can or jar of liquid to determine how much is left. While this is fine practice with a deodorant spray or air freshener it is NOT OK to shake your can of butane right before you refill your butane lighter!

Shaking the can increases the amount of propellant in the mixture that goes into the lighter tank. Anything other than fuel in the tank will cause ignition problems, including excess propellant.

I just hope the lighter you bought was a Xikar cigar lighter. ;-)

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3 years ago

if I have shaken it, what is the recommended procedure to correct the excess propellant? just hold the ignition button down until it stops making a hissing sound?

James Toast
3 years ago

Empty the fluid out of the lighter

1 year ago
Reply to  James Toast

That accomplishes nothing. The fluid in the tank is liquid butane. The “air” in the tank is butane gas. If you empty all the fluid from the lighter, all you did was throw away enough fuel to cool the tank and lower the pressure to a point too low to turn the gas into fluid. But your tank is still full of butane gas. You didn’t empty it. You didn’t change the contents of the tank. You just wasted fuel. Heat your “empty” tank back up, pressure increases, and voila, now you have fluid again.

The correct answer is to do nothing, you used the correct refueling technique. Continue to use the lighter as normal.

Nick Perossa
1 year ago

Shaking will increase the amount of propellent?? How? What are you talking about. Butane IS the propellent. Every alkane in that fuel is the propellent.

You have no idea what you’re talking about

Jon Hancock
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick Perossa

Sounds like to me Nick is a Jackass.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jon Hancock
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon Hancock

In a can of butane, butane IS the propellent. In spray on PAM cooking oil, body spray, spray on sunscreens, perfumes all use butane as the propellent to dispense the rest of the ingredients in the can because the butane will evaporate off quickly. But in a can of butane, the ingredients the butane is propelling is the butane. And it’s not evaporating because it’s going into a tank. In this case butane acts as both the propellent and the ingredient being propelled. So the author is saying not to shake the can because you’ll get more butane in your butane. This makes no sense.

1 year ago

I wonder why all the instructions say to shake the canister first?

1 year ago
Reply to  Mike

Because the guys that make the cans know more about their product than this author does

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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