PNG images: Lighter

A lighter is a portable device used to create a flame, and to ignite a variety of combustible materials, such as cigars, gas stoves, fireworks, candles, or cigarettes. It consists of metal or plastic container filled with a flammable fluid or pressurized liquid gas, a means of ignition to produce the flame, and some provision for extinguishing the flame. Alternatively, a lighter can be powered by electricity, using an electric arc or heating element to ignite the target.

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The first lighters were converted flintlock pistols that used gunpowder. One of the first lighters was invented by the German chemist named Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner in 1823 and was often called Döbereiner's lamp. This lighter worked by passing flammable hydrogen gas, produced within the lighter by a chemical reaction, over a platinum metal catalyst which in turn caused it to ignite and give off a great amount of heat and light.

The patenting of ferrocerium (often misidentified as flint) by Carl Auer von Welsbach in 1903 has made modern lighters possible. When scratched it produces a large spark which is responsible for lighting the fuel of many lighters, and is suitably inexpensive for use in disposable items.

Using Carl Auer von Welsbach's flint, companies like Ronson were able to develop practical and easy to use lighters. In 1910, Ronson released the first Pist-O-Liter, and in 1913, the company developed its first lighter, called the "Wonderlite", which was a permanent match style of lighter.

During WWl soldiers started to create lighters of empty cartridge cases. During that time one of the soldiers came up with a means to insert a chimney cap with holes in it to make it more windproof.

The Zippo lighter and company were invented and founded by George G. Blaisdell in 1932. The Zippo was noted for its reliability, "Life Time Warranty" and marketing as "Wind-Proof". Most early Zippos used naphtha as a fuel source.

In the 1950s, there was a switch in fuel choice from naphtha to butane[citation needed], as butane allows for a controllable flame and has less odour. This also led to the use of piezoelectric spark, which replaced the need for a flint wheel in some lighters and was used in many Ronson lighters.

In modern times most of the world's lighters are produced in the United States, China, and Thailand.

Naphtha 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. Butane lighters have a valved orifice that meters the butane gas as it escapes.

A 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).

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.

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 1,100 °C (2,010 °F). Contrary to common misconception, the windproof capabilities are not achieved from "higher pressure" fuel, with lighters using the same fuel (butane) as standard lighters, and therefore developing the same vapour pressure. Instead, 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.

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