A visit to the Zippo lighter factory

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/05/02/a-visit-to-the-zippo-lighter-f.html


“these lighters will last you a lifetime”

They may also shorten your lifetime, which means they don’t have to last as long.


An elegant tool from a more civilized age.


Standard issue for all Cool Cats and DaddyO’s from my time as a youngster.


I’ve always wanted a Zippo, but a have no idea what I would do with one. :thinking:

I carry enough stuff already, and I am rarely called upon to set things on fire.


We sent an old ‘cassic’ one back for repair, the spot weld for the lid came off.
They repaired it no problem. And pretty fast turnaround too.

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I carried one for a few years although I didn’t smoke.

I just liked being able to start fires when I needed to. Not sure what ever happened to it.


the only thing I miss from my smoking days


I had one in my long-ago smoking days. It was a cool little thing.

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Until recently I carried one of these.

I called it my “post-modern Zippo lighter.”

There are dozens of uses for a lighter, from barbecues to incense to candles to campfires to simply never being without flame. I own three lighters, two Zippos and one Vector, and I don’t smoke tobacco cigarettes.

The one thing I will say is that although the insert will last forever, because it isn’t airtight, the fuel will evaporate out of it over the course of a couple of weeks. So I replaced mine with sealed butane inserts designed to fit the Zippo and still retain that distinctive musical clink. The butane also burns much cleaner than lighter fluid.

I like my Zippo cases so much that I went to the trouble of engraving all sides except the bottom using the fiber laser at my local maker space (carefully cleaned and without an insert in it, lest anyone worry).

Reusable lighters are also a hell of a lot more environmentally friendly than chucking plastic lighter cases that almost always have some fuel left in them into the trash.


I’ve had a number of Zippos over the years but unfortunately they tend to wander or fall out of pockets in the worst places. Even I still smoke I no longer use a Zippo.

I found a Zippo holster on Etsy. Later I made my own. Great for taking it camping.

Been around forever but just not something I’ve ever been prone towards

Maybe, on a related note:
One of my littler hobbies is to pick up lost one-way butane lighters on the road (lest they get run over and be destroyed), clean them and fix the mechanism with spare parts from their late peers, and then every now and again, hand out a small bundle of ‘lightly pre-useds’ to people who actually might need them.
(I don’t smoke, so use lighter only sparingly for other things)

I appreciate those butane throw-aways from an engineering standpoint. I think the evolution here is pretty much done because the desired task can hardly be achieved in a more cost efficient way than with these. They are also really quite hardy (as long as not dropped in the middle of a road) and easy to repair.

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Great product all the way around… the feel of it, the distinct sound of the top slamming shut, the smell.

How I Got My Zippo

I was at a college party in Bradford, Pennsylvania in the 1990s, and I was one of the two oldest people present. The other ancient of days (probably about 28 years old at the time) was a factory worker at the Zippo plant. He was demonstrating various Zippo sleight of hand tricks.

The most impressive and (for me) irreproducible trick was one where he would hold the lighter, closed, in one hand with just a few fingers on the back corners, and then do something that appeared to be (but clearly wasn’t) simply squeezing it abruptly. The lighter would pop spinning into the air, the lid flying open, and miraculously light itself, landing in his other hand lit and open. I could not, and still cannot, figure out how the hell this trick worked.

Anyway, I was fascinated and kept asking him to do it again, trying to figure it out without him actually teaching me. I leaned in closer and closer. Eventually he must have got it slightly wrong, or else got tired of doing the trick for me.

Anyway, the lighter popped into the air, flew past his waiting hand, and dropped into my nearly full plastic cup. We both looked at the slick of lighter fluid rising colorfully to the surface of the beer and he said, deadpan, “You can keep that one.”


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