Introduction: Flint and Spark Wheel Fire Starter

Picture of Flint and Spark Wheel Fire Starter

Don't throw away those used lighters, instead turn them into a fire starter.

I hate to see anything go to waste, so whenever a disposable lighter runs out of fuel I either turn the flint into a firework (see here), or make one of these. The fire starter is made from the spark wheel, spring and flint from the lighter. The body of the fire starter is made from copper.

There's nothing too difficult making one of these, the hardest thing probably is adding the spark wheel to the copper bracket. It took me a couple of times to work out the best way to make this section.

The spring is held in place with a screw which has a ring soldered to the bottom of it. This makes the flint easy to change.

Without further ado - lets get started

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Picture of Parts and Tools


1. Lighter. Use a large one if you can as it has a bigger flint.

2. Copper tube. The size will depend on the dimensions of the spring in the lighter. I pulled apart the lighter and took this to the hobby shop to find the right sized tube

3. Copper strip. Hobby shop. Don't get it too thick or you will never be able to bend it. Same goes with too thin!

4. Copper wire. Hobby shop. This is used to make the ring

5. Screw. The screw should just be a little larger than the inside diameter (ID) of the tube.


1. Pliers. needle nose and any other small pliers

2. Small files

3. Drill

4. Mini blow torch

5. Solder

6. Flux

Step 2: Pull the Lighter Apart

Picture of Pull the Lighter Apart


1. Remove the metal cover to reveal the spark wheel

2. With a screwdriver, carefully remove the spark wheel. The spring and fl;int will want to jump out so be careful not to let them go flying.

3. Discard the empty lighter.

Step 3: Adding the Screw

Picture of Adding the Screw

It's best adding the screw first before you cut the copper tube. Reason being, you need to lock the tube in a vice to be able to force the screw into the end of the tube


1. Secure the copper tube in a vice. You will probably squash the tube but don't worry, you won't need this bit

2. With a small, round file, de-burr the inside.

3. Push the screw into the top and then with a phillips head, start to turn the screw into the copper. You you have a tap then you can just use this to make the thread. As I didn't, I just screwed the screw in with force to make the thread.

Step 4: Cut the Tube

Picture of Cut the Tube

Once you have added the screw, you then need to cut the tube to length.


1. Put the spring next to the tube. You want about 10 mm of spring sticking out the top.

2. Cut the tube. I used a dremel with a cutting wheel

3. File the end and make it smooth. Also, de-burr the inside

Step 5: Make the Bracket - Bending

Picture of Make the Bracket - Bending

This can be a little tricky. You want to make the bracket so the spark wheel fits correctly. You may have to make a couple to get the size right.


1. Make a 90 degree bend in the copper strip.

2. Next, grab the spark wheel and use this to work out where to make the next bend. You want to have it so when bent into a "U" shape, the 2 pins on the spark wheel rest on the copper strip.

3. Cut and trim the bracket and lastly, round off the edges. I used a sanding drum on my dremel but you could also use a file.

Step 6: Fitting the Spark Wheel

Picture of Fitting the Spark Wheel

Once you have the bracket the right size, you next need to add a couple of holes in the sides for the spark wheel to sit into.


1. With a punch, mark where to put the holes. Use the spark wheel to determine the best position. You are going to have to use some guesswork on the 2 holes as you will need to mark each one separately. If the holes aren't lined-up correctly, the wheel will be crocked. If you mark the holes right with the punch, you shouldn't have any problems. If the holes don't line-up and I'm afraid you'll probably have to start the bracket again.

2. Carefully drill the first hole. The drill piece you use should be the same size as the pins on the spark wheel.

3. Drill the other hole and remove any burrs.

4. Here's what you need to do to get the wheel into the bracket:

- Put the wheel on top of the arms of the bracket.

- Push down on the wheel and try and push it into the bracket.

- once in the bracket, line-up the pins on the wheel to the holes in the bracket. If one of the sides of the bracket is bent out, use some pliers or a vice to straighten.

Step 7: Soldering the Tube in Place

Picture of Soldering the Tube in Place

To be able to fit the tube into the bracket, you will need to drill a hole into the bottom of the bracket


1. Mark with a punch the centre of the bottom of the bracket

2. Drill the hole (should be the same size as the tube) and remove any burrs with a file. I left the spark wheel in place when I did this so if you do the same, be careful when drilling.

3. Push the tube into the hole you made in the bracket.

add some flux to the join and solder in place. I used a mini blow torch to do the job. It's pretty simple to do but if you haven't done this before, maybe practice first. The important thing is to get the copper hot enough to melt the solder on touch.

Step 8: Adding the Ring.

Picture of Adding the Ring.

In order to hang it from my keys, I added a small ring top the screw. The other benefit is you can un-do the screw easy with the ring attached


1. Make a ring out of the copper wire

2. solder the ring on top the top of the screw. Best to use a 3rd hand for this part if you have one.

Step 9: Polish

Picture of Polish

To give it a great finish, I used some metal polish.


1. Put a little of the polish on a cloth and start polishing

2. Be careful not to get polish on the wheel or it will be a pain to clean off

3. Done. Give it a test and attach it to your keys or whatever you want to


MillennialDIYer (author)2017-11-17

Legend says this is also the Borrower's favorite hammer.

RinathU (author)2017-04-15

I love it is totally practical

Printy (author)2016-11-05

Wow! That's great! I totally want to make one. :)

lonesoulsurfer (author)Printy2016-11-05

Do it! Actually, if you are new to soldering copper, then this would make an ideal project to start with

Printy (author)lonesoulsurfer2016-11-05

Thank you, I appreciate knowing that. I am new to it and have tried a few times before with limited success. I'm not sure what I did wrong but it hasn't gone too well when I've tried. The soldering didn't stay on with or without flux. It kinda bubbles away from the metal I'm attenpting to connect. Any idea what might cause that?

lonesoulsurfer (author)Printy2016-11-06

I use a paste flux which always does a great job of bonding the solder to the copper. you will know when the copper is at the right temperature when the flux starts to bubble.

Printy (author)lonesoulsurfer2016-12-17

Thanks! I will use these ideas for my next project and see what I can do differently. I really appreciate the coaching!

RussellS8 (author)Printy2016-11-08

Sounds like too much flux. I use liquid flux instead of the paste. put it on the metal when it is cool and heat the metal rather than the solder. As the flux evaporates, it keeps the oxygen off the metal.

If it doesn't stick, let it cool and buff it with an emery cloth. Metal oxides are our enemy.

Gordyh (author)Printy2016-11-08

The pieces you are trying to solder have to be very clean, no dirt or oils, use sand paper or scotch brite pad to clean up the area to be soldered. Don't touch the area with your fingers as there can be enough natural oils on your fingers to make it not adhere. In some cases I use the Works toilet bowl cleaner to clean the parts. BE careful with the Works t.b.c it is a strong acid, have water and baking soda handy just in case.

MrJanuary (author)2016-11-23

one mod I might suggest isoldering a second tube to the side that you can put some char cloth in.

craftvideos (author)2016-11-11

Simply amazing and awesome tool for all those who wants to spend night in woods. #VOTED

Muchos-gracias :)

gralan (author)2016-11-08

Yes, thanks for the instructable. I think it is great not to have to go to Coleman in order to give them money for something I can build myself. Woo Hoo

Thanks again.

Anyone who thinks just carry a lighter apparently has not run out of fuel, or had a lighter explode in their pocket even. It happens.

lonesoulsurfer (author)gralan2016-11-08

Anytime. Totally agree with being able to make something yourself. I think people forget sometimes that this is a DIY site!

loptica62 (author)lonesoulsurfer2016-11-09

.... a DIY site indeed !

I think every 'ible should have, as a constant reminder (to all that are shopping-ready-to-go), in it's title (or somewhere): Warning! Beware, you have just entered the DIY zone..... ;-)

OllieMollusc (author)2016-11-08

Just use the old lighter

I think your missing the point.

loptica62 (author)lonesoulsurfer2016-11-09


WyldStyl3 (author)OllieMollusc2016-11-08

LOL, indeed.

manuelmasc (author)2016-11-07

simple but very cool (and useful)


Your da man

chienline (author)2016-11-07

This is cool! Last week I tried to make a fire starter from empty lighter too, but the flints I got were only one or two millimeters long. Then I got rid of the fire starter project :D

Now I think I have to hunt a longer flint from empty lighters ^_^

lonesoulsurfer (author)chienline2016-11-08

I find that the larger bic lights have a pretty decent sized flint inside

Silent Rhino (author)2016-11-08

To save some time on soldering you can use an eye loop screw. Less chance for it to snap off and you can get a few in one pack.

Good point.

spark master (author)2016-11-08

heck buy a cheap cerium rod unmounted
reboot the project. Stripping a dead lighter is good too, or just pop
them open to add several flints to this crazyness. This is small easy to
lose, but easy to put4 of them in a pack, car etc. With a dead lighter I threaded sisal twine
and/cotton twine through the gas port hole, (I removed the guts first
and reamed out the spot to accommodate the twine), this is cleaner. And
having a cheap butane lighter everyplace you can is, well, cheap!

Still this goes on the keychain and is Ever So Steam Punkie. I may need to make one.

Oh I have both a Blast Match and the little brother Sparkie, they work very well.

If you can't make a fire with them, you have no hands or you are under water.

I did not get any of my scars from Bible School, in the Choir or as an Alter Boy.

I gotta have flames, and sharp stuff etc! And explosions, small, controlled, are good too, I did mention scars ....

Spark On!

Spark on indeed!

omnistructable (author)2016-11-08

Very nice Instructable. Very nice explained and illustrated.

graywoulf (author)2016-11-08

The Coleman company already sells these. They are used as an add on accessory for lighting their line of gas and propane lanterns. They are cheap too.

alzie (author)2016-11-08

I ride my bike 6mi / dy for exercise.

About every other mo or so,

i find spent and viable lighters on the side of the road.

I ll never have to buy a lighter.

How ever, yours is much fancier.

One can find almost any thing you need on the side of the road!

M Y (author)alzie2016-11-08

I met my wife when she was hitch hiking so you may be right about that.

lsippell (author)2016-11-08

Great idea. But I think brass tubing would be stronger and will solder just as easy.

jmwells (author)2016-11-05

I wasn't clear on my question. I meant drill it after it's bent but before you cut the tail off.

lonesoulsurfer (author)jmwells2016-11-06

Gotcha. Yep it would be, especially if you also had a drill press too!

jmwells (author)2016-11-04

Why don't you drill the holes for the spark wheel before you cut it? It would give you something to hold on to while drilling.

lonesoulsurfer (author)jmwells2016-11-05

Getting the holes for the spark wheel to line-up is tricky. Doing it before you make the bends would take some serious skill.

Anirudh Ralhan (author)2016-11-05

This thing is really cool!!!


BeachsideHank (author)2016-11-05

I actually use an empty Bic lighter to fire up my propane torch, no reason why this can't do the same job too. ☺

yep. You could attach the flint and spark wheel with a key ring to the torch somewhere. Then you'll always have it ready to use

rog8811 (author)2016-11-05

I like it! Simple but efective :)

lonesoulsurfer (author)rog88112016-11-05


Wall-led (author)2016-11-05

this thing looks awesome. in fact, I have the need to make this one. but... I don't need it haha. nice one!

About This Instructable




Bio: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with.
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