Lighters such as BIC have liquid butane at high pressure

Lighters such as BIC have liquid butane at high pressure

Common lighters, such as the ones made by BIC, have liquid butane at high pressure and the “exploding” sound they make when smashed is actually the gas rapidly expanding because of its low boiling point

Naphtha (very similar to gasoline) based lighters employ a saturated cloth wick and fibre packing to absorb the fluid and prevent it from leaking. They employ an enclosed top to prevent the volatile liquid from evaporating, and to conveniently extinguish the flame. Butanelighters have a valved orifice that meters the butane gas as it escapes.[citation needed]Schematic diagram of a lighter’s inside workingsA spark is created by striking metal against a flint, or by pressing a button that compresses a piezoelectric crystal (piezo ignition), generating an electric arc. In naphtha lighters, the liquid is sufficiently volatile, and flammable vapour is present as soon as the top of the lighter is opened. Butane lighters combine the striking action with the opening of the valve to release gas. The spark ignites the flammable gas causing a flame to come out of the lighter which continues until either the top is closed (naphtha type), or the valve is released (butane type).[citation needed]A metal enclosure with air holes generally surrounds the flame, and is designed to allow mixing of fuel and air while making the lighter less sensitive to wind. The high energy jet in butane lighters allows mixing to be accomplished by using Bernoulli’s principle, so that the air hole(s) in this type tend to be much smaller and farther from the flame.[citation needed]Specialized “windproof” butane lighters are manufactured for demanding conditions such as shipboard, high altitude, and wet climates. Some dedicated models double as synthetic rope cutters. Such lighters are often far hotter than normal lighters (those that use a “soft flame”) and can burn in excess of 1100 °C. Contrary to common misconception, the windproof capabilities are not achieved from “higher pressure” fuel. Windproof lighters use the same fuel (butane) as standard lighters, and therefore develop the same vapour pressure. The difference is that windproof lighters mix the fuel with air, and pass the butane/air mixture through a catalytic coil. An electric spark starts the initial flame, and soon after the coil is hot enough to sustain a catalytic reaction and cause the fuel/air mixture to burn on contact. In essence, the flame is constantly reignited by the coil

Read more