Basic Zippo Tricks

A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.
These aren't the big party tricks that amaze and astound friends, these are the ones that make them go, 'woah cool, how'd ya do that?' or 'nice, pretty slick'

These are the basics and are just things to do while you're bored or a new way to light your zippo, it's made as a follow up to Rewicking and reflinting your zippo.

Watch the video to see all the tricks done, it's only on the first and last step so people with slower connections aren't loading it every time they look at a new step. Also it's designed as a run-down of them, As of yet I don't have a camera with a high enough frame rate to capture the motions involved and slow them down effectively, at 30FPS most of these happen over a couple of frames.

Once You've mastered these you can go on to the second set of Zippo tricks

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Step 1: Click Your Fingers...

This is an easy trick, when executed quickly and smoothly it looks really slick and it's actually quite hard to see what's going on...

All you do is click your finger near your zippo and it lights... Hmm not the normal way of doing it.

The secret to this easy trick is simply putting your clicking finger against the flint wheel, usually your middle finger, as your finger snaps down against your hand it spins the flintwheel, it looks pretty slick if you flip open your zippo and pass your hand right by it clicking, it lights...

The whole point here is just to have a normal scenario, not a big trick, people aren't looking for the method they just notice someone light their zippo with the click of a finger...

So again:
- Middle finger against flintwheel
- Click down hard while moving hand away
- Get admiration and free drinks

Doing it while moving is basically the same except you need to be able to click just as your hand passes the flintwheel...

Step 2: Snap Shut.

This is possibly the most well known and basic zippo trick, it's not complicated but it's pretty slick and attention grabbing, it makes a really nice snap sound.

Basically instead of closing the case with your other hand you snap it shut by flicking your wrist towards the other side of your body. The case will naturally snap shut.

However this isn't as good a snap, it's a much better sounds and looks cooler if you flick your wrist outwards then stop or back in a bit quite hard, the lighter snaps shut loudly and for some inexplicable reason mine sparks just as it closes...

Another variation on this one is to simply snap the side opposite the hinge against the palm of your hand, it'll snap shut that way and the motion looks nice when you hear the proper snap...

Step 3: The Squeeze.

Though this trick has been covered in another 'Ible I'm covering it in this one, mainly because some wont get thornburg's 'ible and some wont get mine...

It's a slightly harder trick and takes some practice, the basic rundown is to squeeze the lighter in your index and middle fingers and have it pop open and round so you're holding it...

So you put your index and middle fingers on top of the lighter case and your thumb goes down at the bottom...

The hinge should point towards the other side of your body, so if it's in your right hand it points left and Vice versa...

Try squeezing a bit to get a feel for when the lighters about to flip over.

Once you get a feel squeeze hard in one fast motion, the lighter flips into your awaiting fingers while popping open like some kind of arsonist jack in the box...

Step 4: The Slice.

This one is dead easy and simply takes just a little practice getting the hang of catching the wheel on your way back.

Hold the lighter so the hinge is facing away from you.

Slice your hand across the top opening the lid, on the way back slice across again and turn your wrist a little to catch the wheel, the lighter lights up...

The slice is another dead easy move, it takes just a little skill but will have your mates trying to do it for half an hour, usually they hit the flintwheel going both ways and it wont spin on the way back...

Step 5: Black Magic.

This one is great for amazing and astounding, not to mention surprisingly easy to master at the end of the day.

The first bit to this is setting up. You need to make a little arch in your wick, like the photo.

Now try lighting it and pulling your thumb and forefinger across the chimney, the flame should disappear, now wave your hand past the lighter or blow on it.

If it doesn't relight then you need to adjust the shape of the wick, what you are looking to create is a little space underneath the arch in the wick where a small flame can effectively hide and stay lit when the larger flame is out.

The reason the lighter relights when you disturb it is that the flame catches the vapour coming from the top of the wick. Once you start to get a feel for this you can invent your own way of causing the lighter to re-light, I personally like setting it on a table and stealing the flame then snapping my fingers while swinging my hand over it.

Others include saying something and giving it a tiny shake or pretend to pop the essence of the flame in your mouth, then slowly bring your hand flat and level with the chimney. Blow gently across your hand and let onlookers be amazed.

Step 6: Some Other Little Things to Do...

Well when you're sitting bored...

Flipping your zippo like a coin is always amusing, if you catch it just right you can flip it open and light it just after catching it... Or catch it and do a thumb or palm squeeze...

Another good trick and bar bet is to set a bottle (empty) on top of the zippo lying flat on the table, bet you can't get the lighter out without touching or knocking the bottle over.

Now this one is usually done by sliding your index fingers across the table towards the table, however that's just not cool enough for us...

Instead take your hands and get ready to click your fingers, put the middle ones against the lighter, Build up lots of tension in your hands and snap hard, the lighter will shoot out from under the bottle, the bottle will pop on to the table, wobble precariously and stand up.

Once you get really good you can use on hand to click, spinning the lighter out and into your other hand, this looks best if it's all just sitting set up and you simply bring your hand out click and catch the lighter, people are usually pretty impressed by this really easy trick.

It works much better with the likes of a plain brushed steel or polished one, designs tend to slow it down a bit...

Want to learn more tricks, the next instructable is already up, Right here!



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    82 Discussions


    2 years ago

    If your Zippo lights when you close it, the lighter assembly is up too high. Just push it down every now and then.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    the wordage in this article bothered me so much i created an account. you snap your fingers, not "click" them...

    1 reply

    I'm guessing we live in different parts of the world... Neither's wrong...

    As for the unclear thing - I went for simple. Autistic I ain't.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    My Dad caught me smoking at age 11, then he bought a pack of cigarettes and made me smoke the whole thing! I got addicted to cigarettes since then!
    I own, a collection of Zippo lighters. 1 14K Gold , 7 Sterling Silver, 14 brass, 6 Stainless Steel. I have been looking for a copper one.


    it was better when it was called The Twilight zone... many tricks have names, should have been around a few years ago when / was around. nowadays people are just ripping off old tricks as their own

    Thanks, its such a cool little effect... It's also really good to play with, like doing it then lighting something by clicking your fingers instead of making a show of the whole trick...

    Wolf Seril

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Don't tell them. If the cashier won't sell one to you because you look too young, then you probably are. You don't have to be 18, but they probably won't sell to a 12 year old. If you really need one, though, try getting an older sibling or friend to buy one for you, or try to buy one from a cashier who looks young.

    6 replies

    i just bought my first ippo today and the lady at the knife shop sold an unfueled zippo to me because i said it was a gift for my dad...

    hintssWolf Seril

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    2 of my friends and I are masters of technicalities.

    yay for getting out of school contracts!

    cdawg14Wolf Seril

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I find that the bigger the store, the more likely they are to sell it to you. You wont have any luck at 7 11 or somewhere like that. try fred meyers or something along those lines.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I got six of them for free, three brass and three in a really ugly realtree camo pattern, by faking points you're supposed to collect from packs of cigars and enter into a website, they made the letter number combos too easy to figure out.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Introduction

    if you pull your zippo out of your pocket and roll the striker off your pants it will light up its sweet and if you leave your zippo running for a while it will make a big explosion and your zippo is totaled