If my Zippo sparks but won’t light, what’s wrong?

Insufficient lighter fluid, a dirty flint wheel, a lack of lighter fluid, or the need for flint replacement or wick cleaning could be the cause of a Zippo brand lighter that sparks but does not light. It’s possible that the Zippo lighter’s lighter fluid is out of date or that it’s too cold for it to be usable.

Owners of lighters bearing the Zippo name have the option of sending defective models to the original manufacturer, which may be reached through Zippo.com, for free repairs other than shipping fees.

Owners should make sure that the lighter fluid is genuine Zippo. Other brands of lighter fluid may result in less than ideal operation of the lighter. Warm the lighter to room temperature if it is cold before trying to light it again.

Over time, the flint wheel may accumulate flint dust, which may prevent the proper operation of the illumination. To get rid of any flint grit or other dirt, clean the wheel with rubbing alcohol and a fresh cotton cloth.

The flint stone deteriorates with time as well. Make sure the flint stone is still there and big enough to hit the wheel by looking underneath the wheel. Examine the wick. Owners can pull burned or worn wicks upward with tweezers before chopping off the worn portion.

An owner has the choice to submit the lighter to the manufacturer for inspection and repair if possible issues with it still don’t light.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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