Instructables

THE ABSOLUTE DO'S AND DONT'S OF ZIPPO LIGHTERS.

hello,i have seen many instructables on what you can do with zippos,but i have not seen a comp-lete guide where the author lists what you should and shouldn't do with a zippo lighter.

please excuse the lack of pictures,but i will post them if i feel they are needed.
 
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Step 1: The history of the zippo lighter

George G. Blaisdell invented the Zippo lighter in 1932, and got his idea after discovering a large and bulky Austrian made pocket lighter. Blaisdell was an oil engineer who saw a audience for a good looking lighter that would function even in windy conditions. He produced the first Zippo lighter in Bradford, Pennsylvania.he called it the ZIPPO because he liked the sound of the word "ZIPPER"


Zippos are classified as windproof lighters, and are are able to remain lighted in almost any wind situation. They were common in the United States armed forces, particularly in the second world war standard silver Zippo a military zippo lighter was standard gear for all men in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. During that period, all Zippo lighters produced went to the Allied war effort. In fact, during the conflict, since brass was needed for weapon systems, the interiors of zippos were primarily stainless steel. Following the war, Zippo reverted to the traditional brass design.

Additionally, Zippo lighters are known for the lifetime guaranty they carry: if a Zippo breaks down, no matter how old, the company will replace or repair the lighter for free.

Approx. 200,000 Zippo lighters were owned by U.S. military personnel in the Vietnam War. In one instance, a Zippo lighter transported in a shirt pocket blocked a bullet from going in a soldiers body.

these are the facts i have read from various websites. now while i did copy and paste,I ALSO READ THEM AS THOUROUGHLY(spelling?) as possible.I have confirmed their accuracy,but feel free to comment otherwise.

Step 2: Parts of the zippo

look below in the pictures for the listed parts of a zippo lighter.
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ian0606952 years ago
the story of a soldiers zippo lighter blocking a bullet is incredibly false. u have to completly not know how guns work to believe that. if a bullets coming at you a thin piece of alluminum isnt gonna stop a bullet, i guarentee that guys either dead or alive and sucessfully made a b.s. story. also in the vietnam war the zippos they used where "mini Zippos" as we know them now, and basically they were a zippo that was cut in half
you are making the assumption that the bullet came at an absolute perpendicular trajectory. However, if the bullet struck the zippo at an angle, it could potentially ricochet and not harm the soldier. So, it can save a life, but its not body armour.

Cheers!
im sorry in advance if this sounds like im being an ass but im trying my best not to. anyways im not sure you fully understand the ballistics of firearms. in order for a bullet to be even capable of ricocheting off a aluminum you have to be almost directly aligned with the metal. and if your in the engle to where it will ricochet off off aluminum then even if you didnt have the lighter there it wouldnt be a deadly wound. heres a link to a video of a bullet going through an inch thick of solid steel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfDoQwIAaXg it doesnt go through but it makes a hell of a dent and thats an INCH thick of SOLID steel. were talking about a thin layer of aluminum.

Zippos were never made of aluminum.

Well my friend, sadly I think it may be you who doesn't completely understand ballistics. Firstly, your video is a bullet going through ballistics gel, not steel plates. Second, those are not your casual 9mm either, those were higher caliber rounds, probably hollow point and armor piercing to see the comparison. Furthermore, its not one flimsy piece of aluminum, its two! and with cotton in between. It can perform as a cushion effect, AT AN ANGLE! so what im saying is that it will most likely NOT protect you from a shot right to your zippo from near point blank, but can potentially defend you from a possible bullet wound caused by a bullet fired at an angle to your lighter. Please get back to me, I'm eager to see where this goes!

Cheers!
The Link*
Okay, I'm coming in late here, but I think I'd like to contribute. Firstly, it was clearly said above that after the Second World War, the material that Zippos are made from was changed from steel to brass. This means that the material trying to block a bullet was two sheets of brass, not aluminium. You're right, aluminium could never block a bullet. Also, in between the brass sheets there is rayon and lighter fluid. Both of these combine to make something roughly equivalent to what's called a dilatant (see link below). Dilatants are basically liquids that, when between two sheets of material, spread and resist movement. This means that, with the combination of the brass and the dilatant lighter fluid, a zippo lighter could potentially block a bullet.

Then again, Mythbusters tried it, and their Zippo failed to block a bullet, so I could be wrong.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilatant
Another possibility is that a Zippo lighter (or anything else for instance small bibles etc) prevented a tumbling bullet from penetrating the person. ie. a bullet that has passed through who knows what before hand and lost much of it's energy. Or it may not have been a bullet but a piece of who knows what shrapnel.

The point is that something like the Zippo stopping the bullet situation is completely possible to imagine and that the story would be interesting and memorable!

I will repeat my earlier comment:

It's quite possible that a Zippo would stop a bullet.

Keep
in mind that not all bullets fired on the battlefield are high-powered
rifle bullets, and many are "accidental" hits that may have been fired
hundreds, or thousands of yards away, or have ricocheted off a vehicle or other hard object. German officers & sergeants
carried pistols, and many of them (particularly in formerly occupied
countries like France or Belgium) were not standard issue. I have a
rather silly little .32 caliber pistol that my uncle removed from a
Wehrmacht officer in 1944. No chance that bullet would go thru a Zippo,
nor would many larger-bore pistol bullets (like from 9mm Lugers), esp.
if fired from a distance and esp. if they had to also penetrate heavy
winter clothing and/or other pocket debris. The same would hold true
for bullets fired from one of those miserable little Japanese Nambu
pistols -- assuming they even fired at all.

Also, keep in mind
that many battlefield weapons, then and now, were actually rifles or
machine pistols firing pistol-type ammunition (e.g. German machine
pistols or the U.S. "Tommy Gun." Those bullets were very slow and their
speed degraded greatly over distance. Someone who caught a stray one
that was fired a great distance away would suffer a much different,
shallower wound, and a Zippo might well stop that projectile. Bear in
mind that bullet size is far less important that bullet SPEED.

All modern Zippos, such as those used in Vietnam, are made of STEEL, and Zippo has never made an aluminum case. I have a WW2 blackout Zippo carried all through the Marine campaigns in the Pacific, and it's STEEL. A magnet sticks to it just like on my modern ones.

21-year Army Master Sergeant

Former Firearms Dealer & Custom Gun Maker

Competition Shooter, 1964 - 2008

The reason Zippo's "Empty Themselves" is the fuel evaporates, this is made worse in the summer, and even more if you put them in your trouser pocket, due to body heat. Try carrying them in a belt pouch or waistcoat pocket.
I have 2 Zippo's both of which are over 15 years old, and I have NEVER had to change the wick's or even fiddle with them. The only times they don't light first time is due to running out of fuel or end of flint.

I have used many Zippos, having been a heavy smoker for about 50 years (down to only a couple of smokes a day now), and have definitely had to strike more than once to light a Zippo. Sometimes it's because the lighter got overfilled & needs to evaporate the excess, and sometimes it was due to the wick getting dirty & needing a bit of stroking with an old toothbrush dipped in alcohol, or even pulled out & the burnt & dirty part cut off. I now suspect that some of this was due to using Ronsonol fluid, which is a slightly different chemical composition. I didn't know this at the time, but have heard since that you should only use Zippo fluid for proper performance.

Does any one know the Military specification that Zippos come under? Perhaps some one knows the National Stock number? I am experienced at making up survival kits to mil specs. I have never run into a Zippo lighter as part of a kit. Can any collectors help me out here? I see some pretty lame ideas being marketed as survival items, to make fire. I would rather have a $20 Zippo lighter in the field than some of these $200 "sparklers". Appreciate hearing from any Zippo collectors/historians...thanks...barbuto@optonline.net

Though I am a huge fan of Zippos because of their indestructible nature and ability to light in the wind (essential for riding motorcycles or boating), they are NOT my first choice for the Zombie Apocalypse -- though I'll admit to stockpiling extra gallons of Coleman fuel, dozens of extra wicks & nearly a thousand extra flints, to fuel the dozen or so Zippos I have sitting around.

The fuel evaporates out of those lighters very quickly, so they can't be stored :"ready to use," but only with no fuel, and preferably the flints stored separately. Flints stored for some years in a Zippo will ultimately decompost and turn into a whitish plug that can only be removed from its tube by driving a long thin nail through it or drilling it out. Been threre, done that, and never want to have to do it again.

The most reliable lighter to store is also cheap -- the regular Bic disposable lighter, which can be picked up for about a buck apiece, sometimes less. I've had them sit in a drawer for five or more years and still light on the first try, and the fuel seemed to be "full" compared to a new one. Back when I smoked three packs a day or more, a Bic would last me around a month, often more -- which seems to be about 1800 lights or more. Using one of my Zippos, I'd be refilling it twice a week if I spent much time on my motorcycle or boat. No question in my mind that a Bic will light a lot more campfires or candles than a Zippo.

Those cheap Asian no-name lighters are junk & often fail within a couple of days. I suspect that the Ronson brand of disposable is good, but have never tried one yet.

I now keep about a hundred Bics in a drawer. I may not ever need that many, but figure they are magnificent "trade goods" that will be in high demand when things go badly in the world, just like manual can openers. I also picked up a hundred of the old GI can openers (called P-38's) on eBay, for the same reason. I think they were only 30 cents apiece or less.

As far as I can tell, from many discussions with WW2 vets in my family Zippos were never issued, just sold in vast amounts in every PX or BX, in every theater of war. For much of the war the "blackout" Zippos, with a flat black finish, were either the most popular models, or (unconfirmed) possibly were the only ones available for sale to troops in the PX. The reason (eliminating reflections & shine) is obvious. Same reason most military tools & vehicles were flat-painted, and why camouflage face paint was used.

I have one of the WW2 black Zippos. A lot of the flat black has worn down, and it definitely is a long way from mint condition, but to me it just adds to the charm. They sell high to collectors, but my Dad's Zippo is NOT for sale .... Interesting lighter -- the bottom of this Zippo is not flat, like modern ones, and can't "stand up" by itself. The scuttlebutt was that this was to prevent troops from lighting it & setting it up so they could warm their hands, thereby drawing a sniper's attention.

XOIIO3 years ago
A zippo alone can not possibly stop a bullet. This has been tested. There had to have been protective armor underneath the shirt. The same has been said about an ipod, and that is false too.

It's quite possible that a Zippo would stop a bullet.

Keep in mind that not all bullets fired on the battlefield are high-powered rifle bullets, and many are "accidental" hits that may have been fired hundreds, or thousands of yards away. German officers & sergeants carried pistols, and many of them (particularly in formerly occupied countries like France or Belgium) were not standard issue. I have a rather silly little .32 caliber pistol that my uncle removed from a Wehrmacht officer in 1944. No chance that bullet would go thru a Zippo, nor would many larger-bore pistol bullets (like from 9mm Lugers), esp. if fired from a distance and esp. if they had to also penetrate heavy winter clothing and/or other pocket debris. The same would hold true for bullets fired from one of those miserable little Japanese Nambu pistols -- assuming they even fired at all.

Also, keep in mind that many battlefield weapons, then and now, were actually rifles or machine pistols firing pistol-type ammunition (e.g. German machine pistols or the U.S. "Tommy Gun." Those bullets were very slow and their speed degraded greatly over distance. Someone who caught a stray one that was fired a great distance away would suffer a much different, shallower wound, and a Zippo might well stop that projectile. Bear in mind that bullet size is far less important that bullet SPEED.

21-year Army Master Sergeant

Former Firearms Dealer & Custom Gun Maker

Competition Shooter

Wzrd1 XOIIO8 months ago
Except for the fact that I saw the iPod that stopped the round. It struck the hard drive and stopped inside of it.
Apple actually replaced the unit for him as a PR gesture.
Zippos have been known for stopping bullets. As a Zippo collector, I have heard many stories on the subject. My friends Uncle has one in an old military trunk with the bullet still stuck in it.
erm, a hand can stop a bullet, if of course the distance is so great that the bullet slows down to a point where the bullet will not pierce the skin...

and lets face it, of the millions of bullets shit and hundreds of thousands of men who died in the war, there has to be some zippo saved my life stories, which are very likely to be true.
funsize07 XOIIO2 years ago
Go mythbusters!!!
while it may not take a direct hit to the face of the zippo it will in fact take a glancing hit quite well, it was never stated either or so in some cases yes in fact it will stop a bullet from hitting you, either way that is one lucky guy
DaveR17 days ago

Not sure about that; bought a can of "Power Premium Lighter Fluid" at the smoke shop recently and have to fill my Zippo every other day all of a sudden. I've always used Zippo or Ronsonol before and never had a problem. The stuff smells different, too, like maybe there's some acetone or similar mixed in to make it evaporate faster. Looking at the can now, it says "Petroleum distillate-Naptha". Going back to the old stuff, hope I didn't screw up my lighter permanently.

Pepelepeuu17 days ago

I'd like someone to please answer me this, how do I stop the lighter fluid from evaporating in zippo and peanut style lighters? I am not a smoker but I do believe in being prepared so recently I purchased and filled a few peanut and zippo lighters to keep in my car/go & get home bags. But after less than two weeks time they have all gone empty with absolutely no use. However the bic that I found on the ground and threw in my bag 5 years ago still lights every time. So could someone please tell me the point of carrying a high maintenance unreliable item for something as important as starting a fire? Or if I'm doing something wrong please advise.

nbarrager1 month ago

so, is it or is it not okay to use ronsonol in your zippo? that part was worded strangely

Saya adalah penggemar korek api Zippo, saya minta tolong, infokan kemana saya dapat mencari Zippo edisi Ex Perang Vietnam

Hello thanks for this it really helps me as a person new to Zippos (I don't smoke I make paracord stuff) and I am wondering if lightersales.com is still up?

ali12347 months ago

DONT:

Dont use flints from disposal Lighters like BIC, because they are much harder, then the zippo ones! The BIC Flints wear out the Wheel of the zippo untill it wouldnt produce sparks.

adamshame8 months ago

You can always use Naptha as fuel. You can get a one-quart can at your local hardware store for about 8 bucks. It is the exact same stuff that is sold as "lighter fluid."

er du dansker?
its all about the money
struckett1 year ago
ronsonol lighter fluid is made by Zippo...
mickeybob2 years ago
I always keep an extra flint or two under the felt pad in the lighter, that way if i am out and about when my flint runs out I can fix it right there.
Nice, i had the exact same idea, so i keep 10 flints. Sadly my lighter seems to empty its fuel without me lighting it. Any thoughts?
Toogroovy2 years ago
I always put a dab of fluid on the wick before lighting if the lighter has run dry. This way it lights the first time. Also Zippos are easily overfilled. Do not fill it far enough that you see fluid on top of the rayon, pour it out. Problem is there isn't a tight seal on the Zippo and it will leak out in your pocket making a nice burning red welt on your leg which gets smaller and more intense after a few hours. Also when lit the whole top half of the lighter including the lid will set ablaze. (unless you like that sort of thing)
Toogroovy2 years ago
I am differing with you on the use of the disposable lighter flint. These flints are cheaper and made much harder than The Zippo flints. I used to do that and eventually they will wear out the abrasion on the striker wheel. Zippo flints are much softer and do not wear out the wheel.
PSPerson2 years ago
I fueled my zippo with charcoal fluid... it has a bit lower flashing point (making it a bit less ready to start) but it still works quite effectively and safely.
edlivesay3 years ago
Several of you are correct..... Reading the ingredients of Zippo fuel, one notes that the main if not only ingredient is Naptha.... reading the ingredients of Coleman (or other brands of "white gas") we find that it is nothing more than Naptha.

You can pay $3 for 6 oz of Zippo or you can pay $10 or so for a gallon (prices going up like everything else).

Naptha is Naptha.
ive even seen paint thinner used in an emergency
tim1273 years ago
i have some ronsonol and if you look in the bottom right corner on the back it says "zippo manufacturing company"
pyro man (author)  tim1273 years ago
Well there you have it then :)
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