Zippo lighters. They are a classic piece of Americana. It’s hard to imagine some of the classic American motion pictures without the ever-present Zippo lighter.
First created in 1933 by George Blaisdell, the Zippo lighter was propelled into notoriety during the Second World War when service members began carrying them. In fact, during the war the company stopped manufacturing lighters for the civilian markets and focused exclusively on the war effort. It was then that the company switched from the original brass design and began manufacturing them from steel.
Throughout the years, as the world has shifted to prefer more disposable items, Zippos have have remained a staple in American culture.
Many preppers include Zippos in their stockpile. And why not? Their simple designs are durable and easily maintained.
If you are new to Zippo lighters and decide to include one in your supplies, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Store replacement parts. The lighters are durable and last a long time, however there are replacement parts that you should keep on hand for maintenance. Buy additional wicks and flints. The wicks eventually collect enough carbon on them so that they don’t light well and the flints will eventually wear out.
- Carry additional fuel. When I first saw the design on the Zippo lighter, I was surprised. There is no sealed reservoir for the fuel, it’s simply resides in cotton batting inside the lighter. It’s not a tight seal so the fuel can leak out or evaporate from the light over time.
- Carry upright in your pocket. Since the fuel doesn’t reside in a leak proof container, it can sometime leak out. If it happens in your pocket, it’s bad. Not only do you have flammable liquid on your clothing, but the fuel can cause a chemical burn. I’ve never experienced this myself, but I’ve heard of it happening. It’s best to carry the lighter upright, perhaps in your watch pocket, or in a stealth on your belt.
- It’s windproof for the most part. Zippo lighters are well designed. It’s difficult to extinguish a lit Zippo lighter by blowing on it or from environmental wind. However, you can blow on it from the top and easily snuff out the flame.
- In a pinch, lighters can be used a source of light. Zippo lighters, once lit, will burn without you having to hold down a button as in their disposable counterparts. You can light the flame and then set the lighter down and it will still burn.
Zippo lighters are relatively inexpensive, durable, and can provide a critical component for long term survival – fire. Those three things have earned Zippo lighters a place in our prepping supplies. In fact, we’ve bought and stored extra for bartering.
What about you? Do you have a Zippo lighter?