Is there anything more frustrating than trying to light a cigarette and having it fail? I know that when this happens, most people just throw their lighter away in frustration. But what is really going on inside these devices anyway? Today, we will find out exactly what goes on inside the little device that makes it so much more efficient than your average butane or Zippo lighter. We're about to find out today with an investigation of how plasma lighters work!
Table of Contents
- How Does Plasma Lighter Work?
- Why Do You Need a Plasma Lighter?
- The different models available on the market
- How to Use a Plasma Lighter?
- The Pros of Using a Plasma Lighter
- The Cons of Using a Plasma Lighter
- Safety Considerations for Using a Plasma Lighter
- Frequently Ask Questions
How Does Plasma Lighter Work?
Most of us, especially those who smoke, have seen the plasma lighter. Popularized by their use in gas-station forecourts, these lighters are becoming increasingly popular for personal non-combustible ones. Just recently, I got my hands on one and decided to investigate how exactly it works.
The plasma lighter is powered by a simple electrical source. A piezoelectric crystal is placed between two electrodes that are usually at either end of the device. When an electric current passes through the system, the crystal bends due to its sensitivity to an applied voltage - this creates mechanical stress, which leads to a significant buildup of energy in the form of heat. This heat is enough to make incandescent gasses emit light - normally visible as a blue or violet light. Plasma is often seen as similar to fire too, so the plasma lighter produces what seems like.
To make this effect happen efficiently, many other factors must be considered, especially the distance between the two electrodes. This should be small enough that direct current can pass through but not so small that it causes arcing (sparking). If an arc ignites the gas, it creates incombustible species - meaning you will have wasted energy.
The size of your flame also depends on how much energy you put into the system. A minimum amount of electrical energy overtime is needed to maintain continuous plasma burning. If the system is quite small, it will only produce a tiny little flame.
Plasma lighters are designed to be user-friendly, too - they must have buttons on them that allow you to control their fuel type and output. They also need built-in safety mechanisms that can detect misuses of the device or low electrical supplies. A plasma lighter requires very little fuel than conventional ones, but this is usually limited by how much energy your electrical source can provide.
Here's a video explaining how plasma lighters work:
Why Do You Need a Plasma Lighter?
If you're on the go, great for use in windy weather, for smoking cigars.
- A plasma lighter is more reliable than a butane lighter because it can be used even while wet or rained on.
- It doesn't smell like chemicals. It will ignite anything that burns by converting oxygen into ozone, creating an electric arc of blue flame.
- Lastly, once charged electric lighters are environmentally friendly Eco bullets compared to traditional lighters (you don't need to refill or dispose of them). No chemicals + Fewer batteries/parts = great for the environment!
Related: Candle Lighters Buying Guide
The different models available on the market
It's essential to know the different models of plasma lighters available on the market and their unique features before purchasing. We hope you found this post informative, and we encourage you to check out our blog post about the most popular plasma lighters if you want more information!
Related: Lighter for Weed: Buying Guide
How to Use a Plasma Lighter?
- Hold the lighter in your hand with one hand to stabilize it.
- Push the on/off switch down with your thumb to power it on.
- Press and release the orange button on the handle below the thumb, near the base of the lighter as shown in the picture for ignition, then wait a few seconds until you see blue plasma light at the tip before applying flame.
- If you don't see the bright blue arc at the tip, press and release trigger again, then wait a few seconds more or until you see a bright blue arc at the lighter's tip before re-attempting the lighting process. than repeat pressing and releasing trigger for five-second intervals until flame established before letting go of the trigger and continuing use,
Related: How to Use a Candle Lighter?
The Pros of Using a Plasma Lighter
Plasma lighters are more environmentally friendly than traditional lighters. Traditional butane lighters release harmful chemicals into the air that are typically associated with candles, incense, and fireplaces. The plasma lighter does not have any of these products being emitted into the air and, therefore, provides a healthier option for indoor and outdoor use.
Some people that smoke cigarettes do not like using a regular lighter to light their cigarettes because they believe it changes the taste of the cigarette unpleasantly. This is caused by aerosol particles in the butane gas, which can leach onto other organic compounds when brought together under heat, such as during lighting cigarettes. These aerosol particles do not have to be present for a lighter to alter the taste of a cigarette because the heat from the flame can also cause this reaction. The plasma lighter does not have any butane gas being released into the air, so it will not alter the taste of anything being lit with it.
The Cons of Using a Plasma Lighter
Plasma lighters are slightly expensive than traditional lighters. This is an issue for those who enjoy smoking and use multiple lighters throughout one day, as this could potentially become very costly if one were to use their plasma lighter daily.
Plasma lighters create an electrical arc between two points that heats a small metal coil to 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature at which the breakdown of air molecules makes the plasma gas. The metal coil will not always maintain this high temperature and will sometimes need to be reheated throughout use. Sometimes a user must press a button for this process to begin as well. This could be not very enjoyable if someone were waiting for their lighter to warm up before they could go ahead and light something with it or if someone had their hand covering the button preventing it from turning on. In traditional lighters, once you click one of the buttons, it begins heating immediately, ready for any time without needing further attention.
Some people don't like that plasma lighters do not have a flame as they may think it is too difficult to use. These individuals often just wish to light something quickly with a traditional lighter without much consideration of the type of flame being used because it works for their purposes.
Safety Considerations for Using a Plasma Lighter
- Don't use around flammable liquids.
- Do not hot-weld with it.
- Keep away from water and wet surfaces at all times.
- Avoid long-term exposure to ultrahigh temperatures (over 2,000° Fahrenheit). Exposure causes thermodynamic fracturing that degrades equipment performance over time.
- Be sure not to point the tip of the lighter at yourself, others, or flammable material.
- Plasmatic heat is intense; always use extreme caution near clothes or furnishings to avoid possible combustion.
- Don't allow children to play with the lighter without adult supervision.
- Keep your plasma lighters away from other flammable products like spray paint because flammable vapors can build up inside the plasma lighter's fuel chamber if overheated.
- Plasma lighters run on lithium-ion batteries so take precautions when storing them in a bag to prevent a battery explosion.
- Be wary of electrical storms when camping since rain carries large amounts of static buildup, creating dangerous conditions for sparking or lightning strikes around you.
- Always be very careful when disposing of used plasmatic lighters by carrying them in their protective casing. Never under any circumstances dispose of them in trash cans that are close to combustible materials like wood, paper, or cardboard.
Frequently Ask Questions
How to repair a plasma lighter that won't spark?
The best way to fix a plasma lighter that won't spark is to clean the electrodes. First, remove the cover from the lighter and use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the electrodes. This should work well for most polish lighters or any other metal item if you have access to rubbing alcohol. To buy rubbing alcohol, just head over to Amazon and pick up a bottle of rubbing alcohol for much less than what you will spend on a new plasma lighter.
Your plasma torch won't light because it needs contact with both electrodes at once for an arc discharge current that ignites gas molecules. If either one of those electrodes has damage, it will not produce an electric arc as long as it's in contact. Sometimes the plate that holds the two electrodes gets dirty or corroded, preventing an arc from occurring at all. This is what causes a plasma lighter not to spark.
Can a plasma lighter shock you?
If it hit you, yeah. Otherwise, no.
The force of the plasma does not seem to be powerful enough to do anything more than startle someone who happened to get too close to the discharged jet.
Are plasma lighters bad for you?
Plasma lighters aren't bad for you, but they can be unhealthy if they've been used for a long time. The lighter releases a massive plume of smoke from either side of a stable stream of plasma. Certainly not something you want to have in your face for an extended period! If someone does use a plasma lighter for a long time with no issues, this person might have developed a natural immunity to it -- which means any naive house guests will likely suffer from hacking coughs and watery eyes.
How long does a plasma lighter work?
It all depends on how often you use your plasma lighter. The batteries in plasma Lighters usually last 100 - 200 lights, but life will be reduced if you overuse them. Furthermore, the lifespan of a battery is shortened every time it is recharged, so try to prolong its length by running them down completely before recharging.
Can a plasma lighter light a cigar?
Although more of a curiosity than anything else, it is possible to use any variety of lighter to light up cigars. But this typically requires the smoker's mouthpiece to be exposed, making it difficult for some smokers since their mouthpieces are usually hidden in the cigar leaf.
Can you take plasma lighters on planes?
If you're asking if you can store them as carry-on, no. You'll need to check your luggage and take precautions for things like matches. However, it is not illegal to have them in your possession so long as TSA approves them.
Plasma lighters use gas plasma jets, which the TSA rules state that any item that uses gas must be turned off and remain turned off at all times (e.g., saved with a catch or lid). Since the plasma lighter cannot shut off automatically and will ignite when activated, they do not meet these requirements; hence, they are prohibited on planes.
How many volts is a plasma lighter?
They range from 3 to 5 volts, but they operate on the same principles as static electricity.
Can you mail a plasma lighter?
Yes. You can mail a plasma lighter in the US and internationally, but some countries require that it be shipped as a package instead of via letter mail like other items.
Some places may not allow you to ship your fire starter through the regular post due to its hazardous content, such as explosives or flammable liquids. Therefore, they will only accept shipments if they come with proper packaging (like bubble wrap) labeled "Fragile."
We hope that you found this article interesting and informative. It can be unclear what type of lighter is best for your needs, so we wanted to provide some guidance on how a plasma lighter works and the benefits it offers over other types of lighters. If you have any additional questions about these or any other topics related to plasma lighters, let me know in the comments below, and I'll try my best to answer your questions!