Peanut Lighters: Affordable Fire in a Classic Design
Joshua Wussow 09.12.17
When spending time in the outdoors, fire can be the difference between life, death, or just plain comfort. But when your Bic fails and your ferro rod gets soaked and rusts, what can you reach for? Enter the peanut lighter, a tiny two-piece capsule designed to fit on your keychain.
These little fire-starters operate in the same fashion as the iconic Zippo. You’ve got a fuel reservoir stuffed with absorbent material and a wick leading up to a flint and striker. They use the same petroleum-based fuel, giving off a distinctive, familiar smell. But unlike Zippos, most peanut lighters are equipped with an O-ring beneath their screw-down caps. This solves one of the major problems of similar designs: evaporation. This little rubber piece creates an effective seal, preventing your lighter fluid from escaping while also keeping water and other contaminants out.
There are a few limitations, however. As you’d imagine, this isn’t exactly a windproof design. There’s not much protection for the flame, so calm air is a must for ignition. Once sparked, the flame will encompass the entire top of the lighter, so be careful with your fingers when tilting toward your tinder. These problems are less “deal breaker” and more concession to the compact nature of the tool.
So, where can you find these little marvels? You can always browse Amazon’s no-name brands, but I’d recommend you check out the makers below.
This is the one I can vouch for. I’ve reviewed it on my website, and it currently rides as part of my off-body EDC kit. It’s waterproof, durable, and easily refillable with standard lighter fluid. I’ve had no issues with it leaking, which would be something of a disaster inside my Vanquest pouch.
If you’re high on the peanut design but down on stainless steel, you should check out the models from Maratac (link above). Though they’re mostly known for their flashlights, this company also produces a wide variety of peanut lighters in brass, copper, and even titanium.