We’ve all been there. You’re out and about, enjoying a lovely day, maybe getting ready to light your campfire or a cigarette. You pull out your trusty Bic to suddenly find out that you are out of fuel. Oh, no. What a bummer.
You could do what everyone does and toss it, but what if there was a way to refuel it? Is it possible to refill a Bic lighter?
Yes, it is possible to refill a Bic lighter with butane. Doing so requires some disassembly of the lighter and might result in damage, but it is possible.
Interesting. So it can be done. It is good to know that you can refill a Bic if all you have is a lighter and a fuel canister, or you just want to be frugal and not have to keep buying new lighters…
But trying to refill your Bic lighter could result in damage to the lighter, and even a dangerous explosion if you screw it up.
Knowing what to do is essential if you want to avoid a serious mishap. We will tell you what you need to know in this article, and will even link to a few videos that can walk you through the process.
Warning: Bic Lighters are Designed as Non-Refillable
It should go without saying that Bic does not recommend that you attempt to refill their lighters. In fact, they explicitly state that their lighters are not designed to be refilled:
“Our products are designed for optimal performance and safety. BIC® Lighters are designed as disposable products.”
Clear enough, yeah? But just because something is designed one way does not mean that other things are not achievable.
Can you Really Refill a Bic Lighter?
Yes, no question. It is definitely possible to refill a Bic lighter using common tools, a little know-how and some butane.
Why Would You Refill a Bic?
So why would anyone want to risk damaging their lighter or themselves, or setting their house on fire by trying to refill it when Bic says explicitly not to? There are a few reasons.
Maybe you just really like your trusty old Bic that has accompanied you on many adventures and don’t want to part with it.
Maybe it has some really sick art on it. Perhaps you are dedicated to frugality and minimizing waste.
Or, more likely, you’re out in the middle of nowhere or in an emergency situation and desperately need your lighter refueled and working.
It doesn’t matter if they are cheap and plentiful if there are no stores around to buy them from.
Whatever the reason, it is just a good skill to know, just in case, and I applaud your resourcefulness.
Is it Worth it to Refill a Bic?
Million dollar question, or rather the dollar-fifty question, is whether it is worth it to try and refill a Bic lighter in the first place.
After all, they are pretty inexpensive to just buy new ones as needed, right? Assuming you aren’t in a survival scenario and all. Well, that really depends on your perspective.
From a strictly dollars and cents perspective, no, it is not worth it. You can buy a whole pack of Bic lighters for what it costs to get a can of butane.
Then there is the matter of how much your time is worth. Tinkering on the tiny, fragile parts of a disposable lighter is not the best use of your efforts.
However, if we look at it from a sustainability and waste perspective, then yes, it is worth trying to refill your Bic lighter.
Lighters are not biodegradable and end up in landfills where they will sit for decades until they rust away and break down.
And, ultimately, you can refuel a Bic or other comparable disposable lighter for just about 10 cents worth of butane, so it is quite cheap if you already have the fuel.
Can You Refill Other Brands’ Disposable Lighters?
Yes. You can refill most disposable lighters that use butane as fuel. The process is similar for all of them, with a few minor variations depending on the model.
If you want to get into the nitty-gritty details of how to do it, the next section will tell you how.
Warning: Disposable Lighters Must be Completely Empty of Fuel Before Attempting
Before attempting either of the methods described below, it is critical that your lighter be completely empty of fuel.
Failing to verify the lighter is empty can result in a violent spray of butane fuel from either end. This can create a dangerous condition for obvious reasons.
To check the fuel status of the lighter, do the following:
- Look: If the lighter is transparent, simply look closely in good light for any trace of liquid inside.
- Listen: Shake the lighter and listen for any sloshing of liquid fuel. Depress the button and listen for a quiet hiss of fuel escaping.
- Test: Try to strike the lighter. If any flame starts, you still have fuel. If no flame ignites, shake it, strike it, and then repeat until you are positive there is no fuel whatsoever within.
Refueling Your Bic: Two Ways
You have two options for actually refilling your lighter. Which one you use will be dictated by the tools and supplies you have on hand, as well as your own comfort level with tiny parts and skill with tools.
Through the Bottom
The first method is to use a simple thumbtack to puncture a small hole in the bottom of the lighter.
This is the location where it was fueled at the factory, but it is an operation that cannot be repeated without creating a permanent leak that you will need to close.
Then you will use some rubber gaskets on your fuel container to create an airtight seal, closing the fuel port with another thumb tack when finished.
Through the Top
This method is slightly more involved, but it is the preferred method as it will not permanently damage your lighter.
You will need to remove the entire upper enclosure of the lighter, being careful not to damage any small parts.
From there, removing the flint (and sometimes the striker) gives you full access to the fuel tank beneath the adjuster.
You will need to hold the fork out of the way with a paperclip or thin wire, and then you can insert the small tube of your fuel container and add butane until it is full. Quickly remove the paperclip to close the valve and then reassemble the lighter.
These Methods are Not Guaranteed to Work
Something you should keep in mind is that your success rate will vary. Some lighters can be refilled dozens of times, while others may only take a single fueling before they start to leak or stop working.
It is also entirely possible that you will irreparably damage the cheap, tiny parts of your lighter, botching the job totally.
Bic and other lighters of its kind are just not meant to be refueled in the same way Zippos, Ronsons, and jet lighters are. Manage your expectations from the start!