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How to unstick a stuck zippo
August 31, 2007 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Zippofilter: I recently bought a 1976 Zippo knockoff at an antique store for $3. It has a wick and flint, but is completely out of oil. The problem is that the aluminum has oxidized and is so jammed in there that i can't remove it for refilling. Does anyone know a way to get it out?
posted by KingoftheWhales to Technology (14 answers total)
 
Oxides are hard, but brittle. Metals are soft, but tough. Soak it with WD-40, then beat on it until it lets go.
posted by flabdablet at 9:36 PM on August 31, 2007


Buy a new zippo for $10?

Considering the time and the purchase of a solvent to remove the oxidation it's probably the cheaper option.

...or considering that you probably already thought of that, I would try using heat to break the bond. Just try dropping it in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes and then put on a pair of gloves and try pulling it apart. If that doesn't work the next step would be to involve a blow torch.
posted by 517 at 9:45 PM on August 31, 2007


Rather than beat on it, after soaking in Liquid Wrench, freeze the lighter for a few hours, then plunge the lower case directly into boiling water for a few seconds. The slight expansion of the lower case should effectively aid loosening it from the inner case, allowing you to pull the two apart. In really tough cases, keep applying Liquid Wrench for a day or two, and use a vibration source for a few minutes each day to assist the action of the penetrant.
posted by paulsc at 9:49 PM on August 31, 2007


So WD-40 makes sense, but for boiling water, would it create a problem if water got trapped in the flint tube (technical term)?
posted by KingoftheWhales at 9:50 PM on August 31, 2007


If this is like a zippo, the flint tube should have a screw on the bottom that will allow you to open it up and let it dry.

You'll have to wait a day or so for the wadding in there to dry anyways.
posted by 517 at 9:57 PM on August 31, 2007


Alright, i'll try that now. Thanks a lot!
posted by KingoftheWhales at 10:03 PM on August 31, 2007


if you know anyone who works in a chemistry lab, ask them to soak it overnight in dilute HF then give it a good, very long and thorough rinsing. that'll munch the oxide and leave the metal behind, looking extra shiny to boot!

i am a scientist but i am not your scientist and i am not responsible for the painful burns, inner organ damage or death that could result from fucking around with this most nasty of acids without proper safety precautions.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 10:13 PM on August 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh god, stay the hell away from hydrofluoric acid. A $3 dollar lighter isn't worth handling that stuff.
posted by 517 at 10:33 PM on August 31, 2007


coarse needle. hammer. tap. tap. tap. (lightly)
posted by randomstriker at 10:37 PM on August 31, 2007


I had some WD-40 and after soaking the lighter for 10 minutes I got it off with just a little bit of work and then I got rid of all the extra oxidization and now I'm letting it dry. Thanks for the answers, even the potentially lethal ones.
posted by KingoftheWhales at 10:59 PM on August 31, 2007


Zippo has a marketing promise that if you send them a broken zippo, they'll refurbish it and mail it to you for free.

Any Zippo lighter, when returned to our factory, will be put in first-class mechanical condition free of charge, for we have yet to charge a cent for the repair of a Zippo lighter, regardless of age or condition. The finish, however, is not guaranteed.



Unless you want to do the hard work yourself of course.
posted by Baud at 11:31 PM on August 31, 2007


i am a scientist but i am not your scientist and i am not responsible for the painful burns, inner organ damage or death that could result from fucking around with this most nasty of acids without proper safety precautions.

Best disclaimer ever.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:55 PM on August 31, 2007


It's a Zippo knockoff, not a Zippo. I don't think Zippo's warranty would apply.
posted by flabdablet at 12:37 AM on September 1, 2007


if its a "knockoff" throw the darn thing away... most of those didn't work worth crap when they were new!

But, if you decide to use it, welcome to the club of having a rash on your leg when you carry it in your pocket and it leaks lighter fluid all over you.... and, if you hang to the left, keep the lighter in your right pocket.. :-\
posted by HuronBob at 6:48 AM on September 1, 2007


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