Sunday, June 20, 2010

Best Deal in Town!

Yes, the subject matter refers to a lighter! Read on!

Now who doesn't leave for a canoe trip without a lighter?! Its almost like forgetting to take your paddle on a canoe trip! Okay, maybe not that bad since there are other fire starting devices out there. There's lightning!, (Neanderthal technology) fire bow and drill, (caveman technology) flint and steel, (Homo Sapien technology) matches, (advanced Homo Sapien technology) and then we hit the age of enlightenment and we get lighters! - those ubiquitous things on many outdoor outings that make starting fires so much easier. They are definitely very handy to have and convenient to use.


This is your standard refillable lighter.
No guff! Ho-hum.

One downside is when you run out of butane and you have to chuck it. (Like when you see spent ones lying around at a campsite! Argh!!) Not environmentally friendly until some brilliant person came along with the refillable lighter! Technology hasn't changed much with these gadgets over the years other than the child proof latches and the plethora of colours and designs. I've had my share of lighters on canoe trips which then changed when I got the refillable type. However, as most of us outdoorsy people know, once you have some wind, the lighters become pretty useless. (As does most other fire starting device!)


Now this is a state-of-the-art lighter! How
the heck would anyone know that?!

In this age of technology, there have been some advances to combat this problem, (I'm not talking about standing behind a wind block!!) - windproof lighters! The concept is simple, just force pressurized butane through a smaller nozzle so that when the stream of fuel is lit, you have something similar to a blow torch. The high pressure flame is then easily able to combat the wind. Do they work? The consensus seems to be mediocre at best. They are quite expensive, averaging maybe around $50 a piece so there is naturally a lot of expectation. When it works it definitely is better than a standard lighter, but there seemed to be lots of problems associated with them from leaky fuel, not staying lit, to not even lighting!! And we all know how important it is to be able to light a fire in the field!


This is the nozzle/head of your usual lighter. Click on
the picture to see it larger.

Initially it was something I was interested in and keen on getting, but like all new things, I often wait a while to see what the reviews are like. Needless to say, I decided to pass, or at least wait until something more reliable comes out. Well, one day I popped into a dollar store to pick up a few things. While waiting in line, I saw various lighters on the counter. I was curious about these particular ones and pulled one out to investigate. Opening the cap, I realized it looked a bit different from the usual typical lighters. I quickly fired it up and to my surprise was impressed by the force of the flame and its 'windproofness'! I quickly grabbed a couple, paid for them and left like I got the best deal in town! Once I was outside I tested it again to validate my find. I lit it and blew into the flame and found it didn't blow out! I did it several times and at varying distances and found it consistently stayed lit! Wow, I was blown away! (excuse the pun)


Hard to see but the nozzle opening is smaller and you have four
metal prongs that extend into the flame when lit.

Like the other expensive windproof lighters, the pressurized butane is forced through a narrow nozzle. What also helped this flame to stay lit was four metal prongs that was placed above the flame that glowed red hot and kept the flame from being extinguished. Brilliant! And like the "cherry on top", the lighter is also refillable! What's not to like about this windproof lighter for only $1!! Another test I did was click the lighter on in front of a fan (inches from the fan blades). I tried it with both speeds and found it not only lit but stayed on! (On the 2nd speed the flame was almost horizontal!) With a normal lighter the flame attempted to light as I saw a flicker of blue but didn't, whereas on the 2nd speed there wasn't even that! Impressive!


Look into the flame and you can see the four metal prongs
glowing white. The metal also turns the flame red.

So the other question is how does it work in the field? Well I've now used this lighter on several trips and found it to be very dependable and effective. Most of the conditions I found where normal lighters would easily blow out I found this one to work effectively. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure its not bullet proof but I've yet to have it blow out on me in the wind while lighting a fire. I have actually been able to blow the flame out either with a strong gust of focused air from my mouth (close to the flame) or strong consistent blows from my mouth that eventually cools the metal prongs and thus extinguishes the flame. However, I don't know how the air speed from my mouth equates in terms of wind speed, but I'd imagine if the conditions were that bad outside you probably shouldn't be lighting a fire anyways. (One pointer, once you click the flame on, wait till the prongs turn bright red before turning into the wind for more windproofness.)


Here's the typical flame of a normal lighter. Not much
pressure and easily blown out.

So needless to say, I am really impressed and very happy with this "gem of a find". I can't find a brand name for this lighter other than the "M" at the base of the lighter, (maybe Magic?!) but I'm sure if its at one dollar store it will definitely be at many others. (I bought mine at Dollarama) So if you are looking for a lighter, look no further! I guarantee you won't go wrong. Not to mention that you are only paying $1 and getting a steal! I hate to think about the companies that manufacture those expensive windproof lighters or those unlucky enough to buy one!! (oops!)

Happy Shopping! Don't blow your budget! ; )
tPP


This is what a highly pressurized flame looks like. And believe me,
it doesn't extinguish easily. All you canoeist out there, you
owe it to yourself to get one! Who doesn't
like a deal?!!


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