xikar lighter cleaning compressed air

A Burning Issue: Lighter Maintenance

A well-functioning lighter is essential for a perfect start to smoking a premium cigar. Kurt Van Keppel, CEO and founder of XIKAR, shared some tips on good lighter performance.


The most common lighter issues encountered by cigar smokers stem from two factors: improper maintenance and unclean fuel. These can both be easily avoided by

  1. bleeding the lighter each time it is refilled,
  2. proper storage, and
  3. cleaning the combustion chamber.


Bleeding is the most important of all. Each time you add butane fuel to the lighter, it is important to “bleed” or release the air stored inside the fuel chamber. If not done, over time, compressed air accumulates, reducing the amount of butane that can be added.

Directing some compressed air into the combustion chamber ensures the clearing of any particulate.

Bleeding releases pressure, and the lighter can be completely refilled. Unwanted compressed air can also hinder the ignition process. Storing the lighter appropriately prevents dust or dirt from getting inside. Keeping it in a pouch or sheath is the best way, for example, to stop lint getting into it, if the lighter is carried in a pocket. “If a particulate does make its way into the lighter, cleaning it often brings the lighter back to working condition,” states Van Keppel. “Directing some compressed air into the combustion chamber ensures the clearing of any particulate.” A quick and easy practice that will significantly increase the lifetime of a lighter.

xikar lighter corretcting spark wire

Photo: Xikar

Using quality butane gas is imperative in order to avoid problems. Van Keppel notes that many manufacturers claim that their butane is refined two, three, or even five times. The more you refine a material, the cleaner, or purer, that material gets – yet, although many producers may try to sell it as such, this is not the whole story.

“Refinement is only as good as its end result: the amount of impurities left after the refinement process,” says Van Keppel. “The impurity amount is usually expressed as ppm, or parts per million, the number you want to look for.” Butane with impurities of 15 ppm is cleaner than butane that has 30 ppm.

But does excess 15 ppm really make a difference, especially if price is a factor? Yes! Over time, impure butane can clog the tiny parts of a cigar lighter and cause malfunction. This clogging is most likely to occur within the burner, which transports the butane to the ignition point.

Without a steady, regular flow of butane gas to the ignition, the flame will not be consistent. If, after trying the methods above to clean it, your lighter still doesn’t work, the problem may be the spark wire (where the spark originates). Push the trigger and check if a spark is produced. If yes, use a pen to gently push the spark wire closer to the burners. This should solve the problem.


Technical Assistance

If none of these suggestions work, the issue is likely to be in the internal components, which require special tools and expertise to fix. Take the lighter to a technician or tobacconist. “Many companies provide varying degrees of warranties on their products,” says Van Keppel.

“Xikar proudly offers an unconditional lifetime warranty,” he says. “If cigar smokers feel that the product fails to live up to our promise of fit, finish and function, they can simply return it to us or the distributor in their home country, and we’ll cheerfully repair or replace it.”


Find out how to implement your Xikar warranry at:


This article was published in the Cigar Journal Summer Edition 2015. Read more

Samuel Spurr has been Cigar Journal’s Asia-Pacific contributor since his first feature on the Australian cigar scene in 2006. Regularly writing, Tweeting, and Instagramming about cigars, he’s recognized in Australia as a cigar authority and frequently hosts cigar master classes.


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