How to make a zippo lighter light longer

Updated July 20, 2017

A Zippo lighter is the American icon of lighters. Although it was based on a clumsy Australian design of the 1930s, today it is considered as American as apple pie. Throughout the years Zippo owners have developed tricks and modifications to the lighter, such as flipping open the lid and lighting the lighter with the same motion. During World War II, GIs developed a way to make the lighter fluid last longer since it was in short supply at the front.

Open the top of the lighter.

Pull the steel insert out of the lighter case. Turn the insert upside down and remove the felt from the bottom of the case. Remove the cotton filling from inside the case and place it on several layers of paper towels.

Pull the wick from inside the steel insert with needle-nose pliers. Lower the length of the exposed wick in the chimney to the desired level. Do not pull the wick too far or the lighter may not light, or be pulled completely from the insert.

Reinsert the cotton filling with the steel insert turned upside down. Fill the Zippo with lighter fluid and replace the felt piece. Place the steel insert back into the case with the flint wheel facing the open side of the case.

Wipe off any excess lighter fluid on the outside of the case.

Light the lighter by sharply rotating the flint wheel in a downward direction. Repeat the above steps until the desired results are achieved, if further adjustments are necessary.


Lowering the exposed wick will burn less lighter fluid causing the lighter to light longer. The wick can be lowered by trimming it at the chimney, but doing this shortens the life of the wick.


Do not operate or attempt to operate the lighter before the outside has been cleaned after refilling. If the lighter is not cleaned after filling, the excess lighter fluid could ignite and injure the operator.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Lighter fluid
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About the Author

Tom Price began writing professionally in 1989. He has written for the "Chicago Tribune Redeye," the "Chicago Tribune" and "Los Angeles Times," among other publications. Price holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Illinois.