obsolete lighter holder
November 22, 2010 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Can a disposable lighter be re-filled?

I have a very old lighter holder made to fit one of the old Cricket lighters from the time when they still had flints. The newer Crickets are shaped different and don't fit at all. I've only been using it occasionally, and believe it or not it still has a little gas. It won't last forever though, and eBay was no help. Is it possible to re-fill a disposable lighter?
posted by ambulocetus to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
In my experience, no. I tried this on several test lighters in order to preserve a long-lasting and trusty friend, but to no avail. I'm interested to see if anyone knows of a way to do this though. Great question!
posted by solipsophistocracy at 4:25 PM on November 22, 2010

Is there a hole on the bottom of it? I've run across disposable lighters that had those holes, but I've never tried refilling them. They look somewhat similar to the holes on refillable lighters, just lower quality.
posted by sacrifix at 4:25 PM on November 22, 2010

Response by poster: There is a sort of hole in the bottom, but it's sealed up. It doesn't look like one of those little fittings on a re-fillable lighter. I'm thinking it might be possible to adapt a fitting, but that sounds like it might be more trouble than it's worth.
posted by ambulocetus at 4:38 PM on November 22, 2010

Best answer: Those little lighters don't do anything the least bit fancy to make a flame; they just let a little gas out of a tiny pipe. There's no air mixing for making fancy blue flames or any of that; the only thing between the gas outlet and the tank is the valve that lets the gas out.

If you're using one of the butane refill cans that comes with an assortment of adapter nozzles, you might well find one that makes an adequate seal when pressed onto the tip of the gas outlet in the top of the lighter. If you're patient and you have a steady hand, you could probably push gas back into the tank via that outlet while holding the operating valve open with the other. You'd need to wind the flame height control to maximum before doing this and even then it will probably take a long time.

If this works, you'll see liquid fuel building up in the tank through the translucent panel on the bottom. If it doesn't, you're out the cost of a refill can. What's that - five bucks? Go for it.
posted by flabdablet at 4:43 PM on November 22, 2010

Best answer: Yes, it can be refilled. There used to be a whole industry in Vietnam refilling these lighters, which alas has disappeared with the influx of cheap Chinese lighters. Remove the metal shield at the top of the lighter and you will have access to the gas nozzle. Buy a butane refill, which should come with a bunch of adaptor tips. Find the right adaptor and hold down the button on your lighter while filling it from the can of butane.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 4:47 PM on November 22, 2010

Response by poster: Ah, now why didn't I think of that? I will try it and report back later in the week if anyone is curious how it comes out.
posted by ambulocetus at 4:58 PM on November 22, 2010

Best answer: Assuming you can find an adapter that fits, it should come out with a refilled lighter. My husband refills mine all the time; we don't treat disposable lighters as disposable but rather refillable. Yours probably really isn't obsolete just because it isn't made anymore! If you have an old school smoke shop nearby, take your retro Cricket in and they can advise you on getting a good seal (and sell you more flints, too.)
posted by DarlingBri at 5:06 PM on November 22, 2010

If you try this, do it outside. And wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:06 PM on November 22, 2010

If you try this, do it outside. And wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Outside, sure. But, how dirty is evaporating butane really going to leave the OP's hands? The bigger risk is frostbite.
posted by Netzapper at 6:09 PM on November 22, 2010

I'm concerned about the OP's hands catching on fire after the operation. Washing hands with soap will make sure that can't happen.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:07 PM on November 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for your concern, but I'm not worried.
posted by ambulocetus at 7:11 PM on November 22, 2010

Chocolate Pickle, butane is a gas at room temperature and pressure. It vaporizes instantly once it's released from the lighter. It is liquefied only under pressure within the lighter.
posted by randomstriker at 7:21 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm blown away that this sounds possible. I've tried it before, but I guess I just never hit on the proper adapter. I'm gonna try again. Thanks so much, ambulocetus and Ask MetaFilter!
posted by solipsophistocracy at 2:27 PM on November 23, 2010

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