How Long Do Lighters Last?

How Long Do Lighters Last? How Long Do Lighters Last?

No matter the use, knowing the average life expectancy of your lighter can save you from some undesirable situations.

The two most iconic brands of lighters these days are Bic and Zippo. While they are great options, their lifespans and the number of lights you can get out of each differ greatly. Continue reading to understand how each works best for your everyday life, your bug out bag, survival situations, camping, and more.

How Long Do Lighters Last?

How long a lighter lasts depends on the lighter’s brand, type, and fuel.

Let’s discuss the most popular lighters:

1. How long does a Bic lighter last? 

You probably have at least three full-size Bic lighters in your house right now. You might not even realize it because they could be lost in old purses, junk drawers, or in the couch. These old Bic lighters are said to last for 2,000 lights on average. Of course, the burn time depends on the height of the flame and how long you leave it lit.

However, Bics are offered in multiple sizes.

The mini Bic lighter can burn for a total of about twenty minutes. A regular-sized Big can burn for about an hour total.

2. How long do Zippo lighters last?

Unfortunately, Zippo lighters are notorious for fuel loss or evaporating liquid. A full Zippo should last you about 1-2 weeks with frequent use. This translates to about 200 lights in a two-week period. Because the fuel tank of a Zippo is not fully enclosed, evaporation happens quickly, especially if the lighter is stored on its side.

Knowing how often to refill a Zippo is important for anyone who owns one. To always be prepared, I would recommend refilling it every ten days.

If you are wondering how to make Zippo’s lighter fluid last longer, there are a few tricks. Keep it out of direct sun and away from body heat or other heat sources.

Always store it upright to avoid fuel leakage. You can also seal the lighter, which will make it bulkier, but it will also keep the fuel from evaporating as quickly.

How Long Do Lighters Last Unused?

Again, there is a big difference here between Zippo and Bic.

As long as a Bic lighter isn’t rusted, broken, or out of fuel, it will work. That information might seem obvious, but the fuel from a Bic evaporates extremely slowly. Because these classic lighters are generally made to be disposable, the parts are not easily serviced. As a result, you are more likely to lose a Bic lighter before it expires or stops working completely.

A Zippo, on the other hand, will dry out within a couple of weeks without using it. Zippos are well-made and meant to be serviced and refilled. If you are keeping a Zippo in a bug out bag or stashed away in case of emergencies, it would be best to store it empty and have a small tightly-sealed canister of fuel nearby.

What Are Some Other Types and Brands of Lighters?

There are many different types of lighters.

A few examples include:

  • Blue or green flame
  • Cigar
  • Electric
  • Naphtha
  • No flame (uses and electrical current)
  • Waterproof

In terms of other popular brands that haven’t been mentioned, you may come across:

  • Clipper
  • Coleman
  • Ronson
  • M.K
  • Colibri
  • Alfred Dunhill
  • Calico
  • Black Label

Which Is the Most Reliable Lighter?

Honestly, this depends on you and how you plan to use it. While a Bic will likely break down first, it’s simple and cheap enough to keep a few extras in your pack. The fuel doesn’t generally leak out, and these lighters are very easy to use. A fresh one from the pack will last you many years.

If you do not want to carry more than one lighter, a Zippo might be a better option. They are well made and have replaceable parts. However, you will need to carry fuel. Zippos have a more durable feel and are less likely to be lost or stolen for some reason.

6 General Rules for Using a Lighter

Sometimes we forget that lighters are literally portable flames. They can cause forest fires, harm people, and burn down homes.

Here are a few rules to follow when using a lighter:

  1. Don’t flick it on and off unnecessarily
  2. Inspect your lighter frequently for cracks, leaks, etc
  3. Do not use a lighter near flammable liquids or items
  4. Hold it vertically and away from your body
  5. Don’t burn the flame for more than 30 seconds at a time
  6. Keep lighters away from children

Not burning the flame for an extended period of time might be a new rule for some people. This rule is important because some lighters become too hot to hold (Zippo), and others (Bic) will literally begin to melt.


Now that the question, “How long do lighters last?” has been answered in full, you can see that there are quite a few differences between the two top contenders – Bic and Zippo. The main difference and downfall being Zippo’s lighter fuel evaporation. This is something you don’t really need to worry about with a Bic.

However, many people love the durability, style, and classicness of a Zippo. A Zippo can be a lifelong partner. You can fix or replace parts and refill the fuel. A Bic, on the other hand, is made to be disposed of when it stops working.

Another major difference is how many lights each type of lighter offers you. A Bic can offer you about 2,000 lights, while a Zippo only offers about 200 before needing to refill the fuel.

While it’s not easy to say which is better, I would personally prefer to use a Bic and carry a couple extra in my pack. Is that the best option for you? I can’t answer that – that’s up to you to decide.