Introduction: $5 Reusable Zippo Handwarmer

In these cold winter months many of us suffer through the brutality of the low temperatures. Most of us have experienced a craving for the warmth of a summer beach in Mid-February. Well here is a solution for those frosty days when you're walking around, skiing, camping, fishing, surviving a zombie apocalypse or otherwise.

The Concept:

A few years ago Zippo released a reusable hand warmer featuring a catalytic burner and it has proved to be very popular. At $30 however it's a little bit pricy, so I set out to make a high-quality equivalent at a fraction of the price.

Step 1: Supplies

Here's what you will need:

  • Zippo Style Lighter - it doesn't have to be a Zippo, I got a similar style one at my local dollar tree
  • Lighter Fluid
  • Catalytic Burner - or more often sold as a fragrance lamp wick, usually available at the hardware store or online (try to get the smallest size available so it will fit inside the lighter)
  • Fabric Bag - to hold the hand warmer in while in use
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Drill - with 6mm and 4mm drill bits
  • Hack Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamp

**Note: not all the supplies mentioned are in the picture above

Step 2: Disassemble the Lighter

Take the body of the lighter out of the casing and flip the body over. On the bottom unscrew the screw that is holding down the small piece of felt at the bottom. Once unscrewed remove the entire inside contents of the body. Dispose of the spring, flint and wick. All the other parts will be required for the project.

Once finished, prise off the spin wheel using your screwdriver head.

Step 3: More Modifications

Using a hacksaw and clamp cut off the top part of the lighter so there is room for the catalytic burner.

Step 4: Assemble

Drill a hole using the 6mm drill bit where the wick used to poke out of. Then cut down the wick of the burner so it is about an inch long. Push the wick of the burner through the freshly drilled hole in the top and pull down on the wick through the bottom until it sits securely on top. The snug fit should be enough to keep the burner in place but you could always add a few drops of superglue.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Put the cotton back inside the body and screw the felt piece back on the bottom so everything is held inside. Next drill 3 holes on each side of the casing's cap using the 4mm drill bit. These act as the ventilation holes.

Step 6: Finished

Slip the body back inside the casing and you are ready to go!

How to Use:

  1. Add 3ml of lighter fluid and drip it onto the cotton wool in the body. Let the warmer sit on its side for 1 minute while the fluid is fully absorbed by the cotton.
  2. Once fully absorbed, put the casing back inside the body and hold a match/lighter up to the burner stone until you see a feint glowing or feel heat emanating. If a flame is visible then the burner is faulty and should be returned.
  3. Close the warmer completely and slip it inside the designated fabric bag. This will stop the hot metal from burning your hands. Your should feel heat coming from the warmer within a few seconds. This will keep you warm for hours and hours on end. You can put it in your pocket, gloves or just hold it.
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