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Exploding lighters


#1

This recent talk has me worried. I’d like to under what circumstances
these Bic type lighters exploded. Was it by being accidentally
brushed with the torch flame while lying about on the soldering
bench, flying sparks, or somehow during the act of lighting the
torch?

I’m using a trigger style barbecue lighter, which is about 10 inches
long; which is easier to turn on with one hand (the Bics I bought and
tried all have child safety latches, which I can’t manipulate and
strike with one hand while holding the torch in the other). The
barbecue lighter always gets plunked right back into its’ "holster"
high up on the wall, a screwdriver holder ring in pegboard (child
precaution). It’s a good 4-5 feet away from the lit torch. It’s
worked very nicely so far. I’ve thought of plunking it into a metal
cup mounted high on the pegboard. So knowing how these fires occurred
would really help. If they occurred while lighting the torch, then I
really do need a safer method.

I appreciate your input.
Thanks-
Lin Lahlum


#2

Lin, I have always kept my striker directly beneath my torch. This
makes for easy one handed striking. Well what happened is I had a
piece in my cross lock tweezers and dunked it into my alcohol and
boric acid solution. I then brought the piece over to my lit torch to
ignite it and as it ignited a drop of flaming alcohol and boric acid
dropped to my bench top and landed on my lighter. I proceeded to do
my soldering and as I hung my torch away I noticed that there was a
small flame under the lighter. The bottom thick portion of the
lighter was bubbling and deformed. All less than a foot or two from
my face. I totally agree with Kate. There is no reason to have a
working lighter any where near your work station. A torch does not
need a flame to light it. Just a spark will do. I’m sure if I ever
tried one of the manufactured electronic setups I would love it. But,
I guess I’m a little bit old school. If a new tool doesn’t increase
my production or improve the quality of the finished product I
generally don’t buy it. I’ll stick to my old dead bic with the bottom
cut off.

John Sholl
Littleton, Colorado


#3

A number of years ago, when I still smoked cigarettes, I used
disposable butane lighters. I had one laying on my kitchen counter one
day while I was preparing to cook. When I turned on one of the stove
burners (electronic ignition, no matches needed) I heard a very loud
pop. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a window curtain move.
Apparently the butane, which had been slowly leaking out of the
lighter, ignited when the stove ignition sparked. The lighter flew
across the room (approx. 10 feet away) and smacked into the window.
I’m glad I wasn’t in the way of the path the lighter took when it
sailed across the room. The lighter had a hole in it, was cracked,
and empty of butane. Maybe I dropped the lighter and it developed a
small crack, or maybe I set something heavy down on it, or maybe there
was a defect in the manufacture of the lighter. Whatever, I stopped
using disposable lighters.

Gail Middleton
Brooklyn, NY


#4
 I guess I'm a little bit old school. If a new tool doesn't
increase my production or improve the quality of the finished
product I generally don't buy it. I'll stick to my old dead bic with
the bottom cut off. 

the electric clicker style igniters that sit on your bench top
increase productivity significantly. I worked for a company that
insisted on proof that a product would save time before they would OK
general bench purchases. In the time study I made something like
twenty minutes a day could be saved on bench time by removing the
motions associated with looking at the lighter - reaching out -
grasping manual torch striker with hand - and striking the spark /
igniting torch. As opposed to touch sparker - ignite torch. that
doesn’t even take into account the extra time you gain by freeing up
one of your hands for other things. of course that presupposes that
you are doing lay-up and soldering not production soldering where you
would just leave the torch lit. also the bic lighter method (I’ve
been known to use them) puts your hand right next to the flame. that
can occasionally become painful. if you insist on low tech invest
in a good striker with a round inner barrel striking surface (not
flat) these are available at any local welding or plumbing supply
store. these are made to isolate your hand from the flame the also
have a threaded tip that is replaceable for pennies. just my opinion
Dave


#5

After reading about the exploding of Bic lighters, i went and bought
a battery operated bbq type lighter that produces a spark, and have
found that I can’t get it to light my torch. I am pressing many, many
times, the lighter sparks each time, but it just dosn’t seem to want
to light the gas.I’ve also tried the gas at different levels of "on"
e.g. more or less gas. Any suggestions?, Christine


#6

Hello Orchidians, A brief comment on Dave’s discussion about time
efficiency as it relates to using various strikers to light the
torch. Lo these 35 years ago, I learned to solder with a natural gas
torch with a “squeeze” grip type handle that opened the oxygen line,
supplied by an air compresser. That was REALLY efficient. Once the
torch was lit and adjusted, it could remain burning with just the
natural gas flame. When one wished to solder, one merely squeezed
the handle and immediately the stream of air was released to the pre-
adjusted level; voila, soldering flame. Upon releasing the grip, the
air stream was closed off and the flame reverted to just natural gas.
Cool! Wish I had one now so I didn’t have to adjust the air flow
every time I want to solder. At least, I can leave the natural gas
flame burning and don’t have to continually relight. Judy in Kansas
where it’s a cold rainy day with freeze warnings tonight. Glad I
harvested the remaining tomatoes yesterday.

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936


#7

Christine, I have a question for you. I haven’t seen the 'battery’
operated lighter you describe. Where did you purchase it? How much
did it cost? Are you certain that it uses a battery. I am still
searching for the piezo-electric barbecue lighter, as mine, though
still functioning, is beginning to fall apart after being dropped
several times over the past ten years!!!

Linda


#8

Linda, Piezo-electric BBQ Lighters are ubiquitous and cheap. Drug
Stores, Hardware Stores, WalMart, K-Mart, Target, Grocery Chains,
Sporting Goods Stores etc. DON’T ask the clerk for a piezo-electric
lighter. You will just get a glassy stare and they will think you
are from another planet. DO ask for: “A BBQ lighter. You know. The
kind where you just press a trigger and the thing lights”. They will
lead you right to it. SCRIPTO is a very common brand. Costs around
$5. the ubiquitous BBQ lighters are filled with Butane. However, you
can empty the tank in an hour and the piezo-electric element will
still work for years. Good Luck. …Bob Williams


#9
    Christine, I have a question for you. I haven't seen the
'battery' operated lighter you describe. Where did you purchase it?
How much did it cost? Are you certain that it uses  a battery. I am
still searching for the piezo-electric barbecue lighter, as mine,
though still functioning, is beginning to fall apart after being
dropped several times over the past ten years!!!! 

Hi Linda, the lighter has a AA battery which I changed for a new one
in case that was the problem ( it wasn’t),it is made in Italy by
DBD, and is described as “electronic gas-lighter with continuous
spark”. It is about 9inches long, well designed and made, and cost
approx. $8 Aus, e.g. $16 U.S. I bought it at the local hardware
store.It works with a trigger action, and dosn’t use fuel, it just
makes a spark. I managed to get it to light the torch once, but it
took around a minute of continuous operation ( it was sparking) to
do this. It’s easier to use a disposable! Any thoughts?, thanks
Christine


#10
 Christine, I have a question for you. I haven't seen the 'battery'
operated lighter you describe. 

There is a device called torchmate on the market. I got mine from
Swest. It works on AA batteries, and is a small black box, approx.
2x2x2". On top is a thin metal lever, which triggers a spark when
you lay your torch on it. I love especially the fact that you don’t
need an extra hand, since I have usually a pair of tweezers in my
left.