Having sold more than half a billion units in its 88-year history, the Zippo lighter is an American icon. Myriad styles make them collectible and they’re popular among the military. But for cigar connoisseurs, Zippos have always posed a problem: most run on naphtha lighter fluid, which creates a distinct chemical taste. Now, Zippo offers inserts fueled by clean-burning butane that won’t taint your smoke.
The inserts come in two models—single-torch ($14.95) and a double-torch ($16.95)—with each designed to replace the naphtha-burning guts in most models. The inserts produce either one or two powerful blue jets and feature an adjustment knob on the bottom to raise or lower the height of the single or double flame.
The idea to update the traditional Zippo design with butane inserts isn’t a new one. Third-party retrofits have been available for some time, but their quality has been spotty. Some after-market inserts don’t fit properly, preventing the lid from closing. Or they muffle the lighter’s classic—and reassuring—“click” sound. The genuine Zippo inserts fit perfectly and utter the satisfying sound of the lever securing the lid when opened or closed.
The new inserts also eliminate frustrating lighter fluid issues. When refilling with naphtha, a Zippo may require patience and a lot of cleanup. The pungent fuel is messy and when the lighter is overfilled, the excess fuel can leak into your pocket. Worse, in a week or so the fuel can evaporate. Butane avoids all those problems. And there’s no need to replace flints, wicks or packing material. The insert has a piezo ignition system that operates seamlessly at the push of a button. And if something goes wrong, it is backed by Zippo’s two-year warranty.