10 Types of Lighters You Should Know About

Chris Thompson Chris Thompson  |  Updated: March 9, 2022
10 Types of Lighters You Should Know About

Lighters aren’t just for smokers! It is one of the best handy tools to have anytime and anywhere. From your car to your camping kit, it is a good idea to have a lighter within reach. It is affordable, compact, lightweight, and versatile, making it a must-have in your survival bag.

With a lighter, you can start a fire, cook food, purify water, protect yourself against animals in the wild, and stay warm, among others. Nonetheless, they aren’t all the same. With this, read on as we talk about some of the most common types of lighters, so you can pick the right one.

What Are the Different Types of Lighters? 

1. Plastic Spark Wheel Lighters 

This is the most popular lighter you will find in the market today. It is the category where most cigarette and disposable lighters belong. As the name implies, it has a spark wheel that is responsible for producing ignition, and in turn, will generate a flame. 

The body of the lighter is often made of plastic. Think of Bic as the perfect example. Meanwhile, its wheel is made of serrated steel. Below the wheel, you will find the flint. Push the wheel with enough pressure, and it will rub against the flint, creating a spark. 

You will also find a plastic lever under the spark wheel, which is what releases fuel as the valve opens. 

While most of these lighters are refillable, most people opt to throw them away. The quality isn’t the best, so durability can be an issue. Plus, they are so cheap, so a lot would rather buy a new one instead of going through the hassle of refilling its fuel. 

Take note of some of its limitations. For instance, it often does not last more than 3,000 lights. Plus, it is not windproof. Some might not also like how the spark wheel can easily get hot the longer the flame sustains. 

2. Piezo Ignition Lighter 

A type of ignition that you will most commonly find in portable stoves and gas grills, piezo ignition is utilized in many lighters today. It operates under the principle of piezoelectricity. The latter refers to the capability of a material to have an electrical charge after the application of mechanical stress. 

Piezo Ignition Refillable Lighter

This type of lighter is almost similar to a spark wheel. The main difference, however, is that there is no metal wheel. Instead, it has a plastic that pushes the quartz element to activate the spark. Voltage is created, hitting the fuel inside the lighter to create a flame. Its lifespan is usually shorter than a plastic spark wheel lighter, which is often only 1,800 lights. 

Using butane as a fuel, it is also a disposable lighter that is common amongst smokers. While many are refillable, people will not bother adding more butane since it is cheap getting a new lighter. It is easy to light even when your hand is sweaty or when you’re using gloves. Unlike the spark wheel, it has no sharp edges. 

Nonetheless, it also has some drawbacks. For instance, some might not like how it does not work in wet and windy conditions. 

3. Windproof Lighter 

When it comes to windproof lighters, there is one popular brand that most of you are probably aware of—Zippo. For more than a hundred years, it has been a big hit in the global market. It is larger than the two lighters mentioned above. It has a spark wheel, which you have to press to ignite the flame. 

Zippo All in One Kit Windproof Lighter

One of the best things about a windproof lighter is that it stays lit, even when you take your hand off the spark wheel. Even when it is cold and windy, the flame stays on. The only way it goes off is by closing its lid. Otherwise, the flame will stay alive just like a lit candle. 

Another good thing about windproof lighters is that they can last a long time, especially if you choose Zippo. You will need a replacement for the wick and flint, but the lighter itself is tough. 

However, take note that it is prone to air exposure. Not to mention, it uses a lot of fuel since it stays lit unless you close the lid. On average, it might take up to 10 days before you need to refuel. It will depend on several factors, such as the extent of use. 

4. Torch Lighter 

The name itself should already give you an idea of the design of this lighter. It has butane in a pressurized chamber. Meanwhile, the fuel forces through the lighter’s nozzle. Here, it creates an intense and strong flame, which is powerful enough to light cigars. 

A good thing about torch lighters is that it allows the users to aim the flame in any direction. You can even point it up or down. As long as you are holding the trigger button, the flame will stay lit. 

If there is one thing that you might not like about this kind of lighter, it would be its inefficiency. It uses a lot of butane, so make sure that you always have a can of spare fuel for a refill. 

5. Plasma Lighter 

Claiming to be better than butane, plasma lighter is another type that is worth considering. It does not use gas to generate a flame. Instead, it uses plasma, the fourth state of matter. It started as a Kickstarter project and became more popular around the world because it is a greener alternative to conventional lighters. 

In a plasma lighter, a high-voltage electrical current goes through two nodes. In turn, it produces a highly-charged plasma arc. It creates heat that will light an object, such as a candle wick. 

Among others, one of the best things about plasma lighters is that they are flameless. Not to mention, they are also hotter than your usual lighter and a great option when you are in windy environments. Aside from having no fuel, we also love how it is rechargeable, so you can minimize waste compared to using traditional plastic lighters. 

A plasma lighter also has several shortcomings. For instance, the battery will often need a replacement. Also, the charging time can be long and might not last long between charges, depending on the quality of the lighter you are using. 

6. Utility Lighter 

Also called a candle lighter, the most recognizable characteristic is the long neck. It is the same lighter that you use for lighting a gas stove. It is useful if you want to cook at the campsite as well. With a long neck, it is easier to light a candle, stove, or grill without your hand getting burnt. 

Premium All Occasion Lighters

These lighters can have a rigid or flexible neck. The latter is more versatile because you can twist the neck depending on the direction where you will need the flame. These lighters are refillable, making them economical. Nonetheless, since they are affordable, most people consider them as disposable lighters. 

7. Electric Coil Lighter 

A flameless lighter, it is one of the most innovative lighters you can use. It has a built-in battery instead of using butane or any other fuel. It is through the battery’s electricity that the coil inside the lighter heats up. It has two ceramic nodes that create electrical energy, which is what will ignite a flame.

You can charge these lighters in a micro USB port, just like your smartphone. Meaning, you can also use your portable power bank, making sure that the lighter is available when you need it the most. 

However, it has limited applications. Most people use it only for smoking. With the coil, you cannot light just anything. Hence, it is not a good choice if you need a lighter for camping or emergency preparedness. 

8. Permanent Match 

If you are looking for a lighter that will make a great addition to your survival kit, then it is hard to go wrong with a survival match. As the name implies, it looks like a classic match. It has a spark stick with a screwed wick. Meanwhile, the main body of the lighter is a chamber that is filled with fuel. 

Compared to a standard match, the flame that it creates is more wind-resistant. Not to mention, it is longer-lasting. Nonetheless, be careful with the advertisements of some manufacturers regarding the number of lights, since they are often more than the true capability. 

9. Floating Lighter 

The name itself is already a clue of what this lighter is like. This is perfect if you are often in the water, such as for those who love boating. It has an innovative construction with a buoyant body, so it will float in the water. Not to mention, it is also waterproof, so you can use it even when it is wet, making it great for survival situations. 

10. Capsule Lighter 

It is the smallest of all the lighters on the list, making it easy to bring anytime and anywhere. Some people wear it as a necklace, so it is always accessible. Depending on the specific brand and model, it can also be waterproof. Nonetheless, because it is small, the fuel will not last long. It is not for everyday use but only for emergencies. 

Tips for Choosing a Lighter 

It is not enough that you pick a lighter that generates a flame. Consider other factors in picking the right one, including the following: 


One of the first things to do is to determine what you need the lighter for. Is it for cigarettes or cigars? Will you be using it for cooking at home or at the campsite? Or are you buying one that will make a great addition to your survival kit? By knowing your purpose, it is easier to narrow down the choices. 


From compact to bulky, lighters are available in different sizes. The biggest are the ones that are designed for lighting candles or stoves. Meanwhile, the smallest are those that you can use for survival, making them easy to bring wherever you go. Nonetheless, take note that the smaller ones usually have the least capacity. 


The type of lighter that you choose will dictate the fuel that it has. Butane is the most common, especially in refillable lighters. Naphtha is another option, which has a saturated cloth wick and fiber that absorbs fluid. Meanwhile, you will also find others without fuel, especially those with an electric mechanism. 

Why You Need a Lighter 

If you are a smoker, chances are, you always have a lighter with you. Nonetheless, even if you do not smoke, you will need one for the following reasons. 

Start a Fire 

One of the best reasons to have a lighter is to start a fire. Forget about the traditional mode of survival wherein you need stones to manually create flames. With a lighter, things will be easy. You can start a fire to keep you warm in the campsite, to boil water, or cook food, among other things. You should also find the best survival stove for your needs.

Open a Bottle 

Do not attempt to open a bottle with your teeth! It is better to use a lighter instead. Many of them are designed with a solid and flat body, which can be useful when a bottle does not have a twist cap. 

Seal a Rope or Cord 

If you are using nylon or rope, such as when you are setting up temporary shelter in the campsite, you will have another good reason to own a lighter. It can seal the ends that you have just cut, which will prevent fraying. 


What are old lighters called? 

Old lighters are called Feurzeug or Dobreiners Lamp. It was named after the German chemist who was credited for being the inventor of the lighters that we know today. 

What are the most popular lighter brands? 

Some of the most popular global lighter brands are Zippo, Bic, Dunhill, Coleman, Lois, Clipper, MK, and Calico. 

What kind of a lighter is Zippo? 

Zippo is a wind-proof metal reusable lighter. It is more expensive than traditional disposable lighters, but it is worth every dollar because it is beautiful and long-lasting. When it no longer lights, all that you need to do is to refill it with butane. 

Final Thoughts 

Lighters exist in all shapes and sizes. Whether it is for cigarettes, cigars, candles, camping, or survival, among other situations, picking the right one is essential. Some of the most common types of lighters you will find in the market include plastic spark wheel, piezo ignition, windproof, plasma, electric coil, and capsule. 

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