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Lighters at High Altitudes

Discussion in 'Ask FC' started by nickdanger, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. nickdanger

    nickdanger Collector of Functional Art

    Messages:
    388
    Location:
    Fly-over Country
    A friend and I recently took a trip to the mountains (9100 ft elev) with our Vapcaps. We made sure our lighters were filled and took a couple of extras just in case. When we got up there, none of them worked, and we had to go to town and purchase a couple. The lighters worked perfectly in the higher elevations, and then back at home. I find it hard to believe there are "special" lighters that work at high altitudes. Would ours have worked it we had filled them at the higher altitude instead of before we left?
     
    Roth likes this.
  2. Roth

    Roth Pining for the Mountains

    Messages:
    1,042
    They definitely do sell lighters made specifically for high altitudes, but they are few and far between. The Xikar Cirro and Stratosphere are some examples. However, I don't think they're necessarily always needed.

    I spent the last two summers in Idaho, doing lots of hiking in higher elevations, 6-9.5k. The town I was staying in was ~5,500' elevation, and the lighters would have been filled at that elevation. How big of a difference was the elevation from where you filled, to where they failed?

    Prior to heading up there, I purchased a Xikar Cirro and also a single jet Xikar Tech lighter. The Tech worked the entire time for me, all the way up the highest I was that summer, just under 10k. Never even needed the Cirro.

    The elevation definitely has a factor on lighting lighters. I did notice I usually had to turn the flame up some to get it going when I was really high up. So it's possible just some combination of your lighters/fuel used just didn't jive with the decreased oxygen.

    So I don't really have an answer to your question, just giving my experience in the matter.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
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  3. nickdanger

    nickdanger Collector of Functional Art

    Messages:
    388
    Location:
    Fly-over Country
    Our lighters were filled at approx 900 ft elevation, so quite a difference with 9100 ft. They did work fine at 5200 ft elevation, so it was just the higher elevation and less oxygen that caused our issues. Turning up the lighters didn't work either. The ones we ended up buying up there were inexpensive triple jets that worked great up there, and worked fine when back to our home elevation.
     
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  4. Roth

    Roth Pining for the Mountains

    Messages:
    1,042
    Ya, I'd probably assume it was the difference in fill and use elevations then. That is a pretty drastic difference in elevation.
     
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  5. VAPEHUNTER

    VAPEHUNTER Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    889
    Location:
    LAS VEGOOSE, NV
    I had that problem before with a jet lighter and The Hammer vaporizer. Once I emptied and refilled them, at altitude, they worked fine. YMMV
     
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  6. VaporWare

    VaporWare Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    529
    Did you try pushing something like a small screwdriver into the fill hole to release the propellant that gets mixed in with the butane either when you filled it or at high altitude?

    I’m not sure how altitude affects it, but even at the same fill/use elevation too much of the wrong gas in the tank can cause problems like that.
     
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  7. stardustsailor

    stardustsailor Well-Known Member Accessory Maker

    Messages:
    1,014
    Location:
    14-23-5-932-941
    At higher elevation two main variables that affect directly the operation of a jet/torch lighter ,do change :
    1 ) Atmospheric pressure and 2 ) Atmospheric Oxygen concentration .

    Both they get decreased.

    If you " turn up " the fuel at the lighter ,while at high altitude you make the gas mixture "rich " .
    Too much fuel , not adequeate oxygen .

    Instead ,the fuel has to be turned down ,to compensate the lower oxygen concentration.

    Also if the lighter was filled at low altitude and will be used at higher altitude ,then it should be turned upside down and some gas should be released by pressing on the refueling valve
    ( " pressure equalisation " ) ,as the pressure inside the fuel tank has increased .

    (...)
    ALTITUDE ISSUES
    Butane lighters are subject to altitude problems. They are a subject to fuel to air ratios that must be met for the lighter to function properly. As you go higher, the air is less dense and contains less oxygen. As you go lower, air density increases and contains more oxygen. You must decrease the butane flow by rotating the fuel adjustment clockwise (-) as you go higher in altitude; and increase the butane flow-rotate adjustment counterclockwise (+) as altitude decreases. Experiment with the adjustment at different altitudes, and you will find the lighter works properly. If the lighter was fueled at a lower altitude than you are operating it at, an air lock can occur just in front of the valve. A partial release of the pressure with the adjustment valve positioned above the tank will equalize the pressure and eliminate the air lock

    (...)

    http://lotuslighters.com/pdfdocs/IntegralServiceManual.pdf


    :2c:
     
  8. VaporWare

    VaporWare Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    529
    Much better explanation than mine, @stardustsailor I’m guessing *you* hadn’t just hit the FlowerPot. :rofl:
     
  9. nickdanger

    nickdanger Collector of Functional Art

    Messages:
    388
    Location:
    Fly-over Country
    No, we were limited as to the tools at hand, which were minimal.

    @stardustsailor thanks for the detailed explanation. Unfortunately, our tools were limited, and we had no luck adjusting just the flame. Next time we will know better. It just took us by surprise, as all the lighters worked when we left home base.
     

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