Cigar smokers prefer butane torches to regular butane lighters, but they aren't the only people who can benefit from the hot, focused flame. It's the go-to lighter for camping, picnicking and any activity that might occur in windy conditions. Refilling one of these torches takes just a few minutes, but there's a right way and wrong way to do it. The wrong way is to simply flip your lighter over, poke the nozzle of your inexpensive refill canister into the refill port and fire away. If you do that without a bit of preparation, your torch will probably clog. The preparation isn't exhaustive and it helps keep your torch in great condition.
Avoid Inexpensive Refills
The quality of butane refills varies considerably, and your torch will work better if you don't skimp. Inexpensive butane is either poorly refined or unrefined altogether, which means that it contains microscopic impurities. The ports in a butane torch are extremely small, which is why it can create such a focused flame, and the tiny impurities in unrefined butane can clog them. Once it gets clogged, you may find it difficult to unclog your torch. Stick with triple refined or better butane. The number of refinings is clearly marked on the label.
Bleed the Torch Before Refilling
It's important to remove all the old butane before refilling to prevent bubbles from forming. Bubbles are tiny airlocks that can clog your torch as effectively as impurities in the butane. To bleed the torch, start by turning off the gas valve. Turn the lighter upright so the refill port is facing the floor, then insert a small screwdriver into the port and press. Maintain pressure until the hissing stops, then keep pressing for a few more seconds to be sure all the air escapes.
Refill the Torch
After purging the chamber, turn the lighter upside down so the refill port is facing the ceiling. Insert the nozzle of the refill canister into the refill port (it's an exact fit) and orient the canister to be exactly parallel to the torch body. Press firmly and maintain pressure until the hissing stops, which may take as long as a minute or two. Don't release pressure until the torch is full or you could damage the chamber. If you see or hear butane escaping while the chamber is filling, adjust the angle of the refill canister until it stops.
When the torch is full, wait at least a minute before opening the gas valve and using the torch. The butane gets very cold when it's transferring from the canister to the torch, and it needs time to warm up and expand.
Two Words of Caution
- Always orient the lighter and refill canister so that the nozzle is pointing away from you. The last thing you need is a face full of butane.
- Remember that butane is heavier than air, so avoid holding the lighter over a sink or other depression. Any butane that escapes could fall in and collect there, and if there's enough of it, it could ignite when you start the torch.