Keep It Simple, Stupid

I carry butane lighters as part of my fire starting kits. People give all sorts of reasons not to do this, most of which come back to “they won’t work when you need them”, but I persist. Firstly, most of my fire kits contain two, or three, means of starting a fire so if one does not work, I am not totally hosed. Secondly, if the lighter does work, I just saved myself how much time and effort? This last point is pretty much the entire reason reason I carry and advocate a butane lighter along with a good two layer fire starting kit. Sure it might not work, but how sweet will it be if it does and I don’t have to muck about with a ferro-rod?

The biggest problems I have encountered with butane lighters are getting them to work in the cold, and finding them depleted when I go to use one. The cold issue can be helped somewhat by moving them closer to your body when out in really cold conditions. Finding them depleted though is another story. The gas-feed buttons on the average lighter are pretty easily depressed, and can be held down by other gear or even resting wrong inside a pants pocket.
Awhile back, in an effort to counter this and prevent unwanted depression of the button, I made a couple kydex lighter covers for the units in my fire kits. These worked, but there was an unavoidable amount of bulk added by the kydex. I knew there had to be a better solution, and of course I found one that made me feel like an idiot for not thinking of.
Cruising the internet, I came across a photo of a fire kit and there was a Bic lighter, with an O-ring under the button to keep it from being depressed. Simple, easy, cheap and very low-bulk; The epitome, especially in contrast to my efforts, of the KISS principle.

On some lighters, the o-ring has to be pulled hard underneath the button to prevent its function. On some others, as shown, two o-rings had to be utilized. It’s also worth noting that this will not work with every lighter tried: On some, the o-ring could simply be depressed along with the button, allowing gas to escape.
Happy firebuilding!

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3 responses to “Keep It Simple, Stupid”

  1. Ian Wendt says:

    Using a single, thicker O-ring could work better for the more stubborn lighters. Neat idea, really.

  2. That is fricken ingenious. I have so o-ring here at the house and I tried it and it works like a charm. Great post. We need to see more of this kind of stuff.

  3. Tom says:

    Excellent idea with the o-ring. I carry lighters for the same reasons you do: They are cheap and EASY to use. If they do not work I move to something else (usually more complex and/or harder to get to work). Start simple and move towards the complicated only when you have to.

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