History of the Lighter

Today, lighters are a common object that we forget that a lighter is an extraordinary invention.

Anywhere, anytime you can press a button or turn a wheel and you have fire !!!

The history of lighters starts about 200 years ago in Germany.

1816 the First Lighter

The lighter was invented in 1816, was nicknamed Dobereiner’s Lamp (German chemist Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner ), but the Dobereiner lighter did not use butane or gasoline as fuel but hydrogen that was very explosive. So it is not the object that was invented by Dobereiner but the fact that the fuel was ignited at the touch of a finger.

Wolfgang Dobereiner

It was different from today lighters for the ignition mechanism. This lighter did not use a flint stone or piezoelectric crystal but the expensive platinum.

Another difference is the size, the Dobereiner Lamp was a sort of table lighter, which had become a status symbol in the upper society, normal smokers used the cheaper matches – invented shortly after [wikipedia Matches ] until they the flint lighter was improved.

1908 Lighters with flint stones

In 1908 were produced lighters that could fit in pockets, the flint stones became of mass production. Of course, the use of platinum became obsolete, it was much easier to turn a wheel and to light a wick that used to absorb the fuel from a small tank.

One of the first flint lighters from 1920

The development continued in World War I because the soldiers used to light up with matches but the initial flare of matches was very visible and many lost their lives. From here the need to ignite but without the initial flare. Inventors continued to work and at the end of the war in 1918, the lighter was much more advanced.

Then in the 1920s – the Art Deco period – the habit of smoking spread quickly and the lighter became a fashionable object. Flint lighters spread quickly. In the picture, you can see a lighter from the 1920s that probably belonged to an elegant woman.

1930 Blaisdell creates Zippo

Zippo advertising poster

The lighters, however, remained a luxury. In the 1930s George G. Blaisdell started working with an old Austrian lighter, first, he improved the ergonomics of the object so that it was comfortable to hold in. Then he drew a perforated shelter for the flame that made the flame wind-resistant! Finally, he changed the fuel tank and he added a hinge so that it had the flip-top opening and here’s the Zippo.

After the birth of the Zippo, other companies started to emerge and the competition lowered the prices and the lighters came to the reach of everyone and soon became a collection item.

Ronson first invented an automatic lighter at the end of the 1920s but was not a success until the Zippo, Dunhill improved the production, Dupont added lighters to their product lines and Colibrì began to produce the first automatic lighters.

Poster from the ’30

You see the beautiful woman in the manifesto of the 30ties, she smiles because she just lighted-up her cigarette with a Zippo.

It was said that the Zippo’s closing click was irresistible for the women. This romantic particular made it a novelty.

The fuel used was a petroleum-derived gasoline, a wick was lit by turning a wheel made of flint hitting a steel tip, it was spun by one finger.

1940 The Modern Lighter

In the 1930s and 1940s, great innovations came about: Ronson began to produce lighters that used butane as fuel, which had these advantages over gasoline: the flame could be adjusted, no wick needed, and a lot less smell.

one of the first Ronson’s Lighters

The method to light-up the gas was always based on the flint, and now they were looking for an evolution to avoid replacing the flint stones.

In the previous twenty years, the piezoelectric technology was developed, and Ronson was the first to light on gas with a piezoelectric spark. The spark is produced by exerting a pressure on a quartz crystal and this generates a spark.

However, today we still find the two ignition systems and the Ronson – among the smokers – it is still a cult.

Main manufacturers of lighters


BIC – the world’s biggest manufacturer – 5 million Bic lighters are sold every day.

Marcel Bich, became the main the world’s largest ballpoint pen manufacturer, he turned to the production of lighters … in 1971 he gained control of a French lighter factory FLAMINAIRE and in 1973 he launched the first Bic lighter with adjustable flame. Due to its high quality, reliability and eye-catching design, the Bic lighter was a success. Then in 1985 the Bic Mini arrived and in the ’90s the rest of the models.

BIC lighters are available in 3 sizes (maxi, slim and mini), with the 2 ignition systems described above (classic/standard and electronic), they are not rechargeable. … How is a Bic lighter manufactured?

How many Flames give you a Bic before it runs out of gas? Up to 3000.


Clipper, about half a century ago, the Puig family founded Flamagas, the company, unlike the Bic, specialized in the production of refillable lighters beside non-refillable.
Its trademarks are: Clipper [Rechargeable], Brio [non-rechargeable] and Stylo [non-rechargeable] – the daily output is of 500,000 pieces.

Visit www.clipper-shop.com
Turbo flame if inclined

The Clipper with its beautiful designs and a thousand colours is the most beautiful and practical lighter. Remember “turbo flame”  function, when tilted the flame increases, thus the ignition of pipes and bongs is facilitated and there is no risk of burning your fingers.

The company headquarter is in Barcelona, it has factories in India and China.

The original design of the clipper is by Enric Sardà, 1971.


The Zippo Manufacturing Company

George B. Blaisdell

was founded in 1932 by George B. Blaisdell, in Bradford, Pennsylvania, USA. His famous Zippo lighter owes its name to another product of the era that was very successful, namely the zipper (zip).

The main characteristic of Zippo is that it has maintained, from 1932 to today, an almost identical shape. It is its shape that makes it quaint and famous. The Zippo is famous for its iconic shape and because it always gives a flame, even when it is windy. Another characteristic of a Zippo is the fact that you can know the manufacturing date of every lighter thanks to a special code stamped on each piece. In 1997 the Blue Zippo arrives, the same shape but with gas – at the usual ridiculous price. A real failure. 

…Flames types

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