The temperature of a lighter's flame depends on the type of lighter being used. Methane, propane and butane are the most common types of gas lighters. In ordinary discount lighters, the gas is mixed with air, which causes it to retain the normal upward flame shape. The temperature of the flame varies, with the hottest point being toward the bottom or blue part of the flame and the coolest being toward the top or white part.
The hottest part of a standard butane lighter burns at 1,977 degrees Celsius (3,590 degrees Fahrenheit). Many people think the hottest part of a lighter is the white-hot tip of the flame because the heat is more concentrated at the top. The area of flame is larger and thus feels hotter at the top, but in reality it is not. The hottest part is the blue area of flame near the base.
The coolest part of a standard butane lighter burns about 11 to 28 degrees Celcius (20 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than the hottest point, depending on the specifics of the lighter. The coolest part of the lighter is the top or tip of the flame. Human senses have difficultly feeling the difference in heat due to the extremely high temperature of fire and relatively low variance in the temperature of the hottest and coolest parts of the flame.
Methane lighters burn at 900 to 1,500 degrees Celsius (1,652 to 2,732 degree Fahrenheit). The range in temperature is a result of the different designs of methane lighters. Methane is a less preferred fuel for lighters because it is highly explosive and flammable. This makes methane lighters more hazardous. Methane can be harvested from natural gas fields and is generated, in part, by decomposing organic matter.
Propane lighters burn at 1,200 to 1,700 degrees Celsius (2,192 to 3,092 degrees Fahrenheit). Again the range in temperature depends on the make of the lighter. Propane is commonly used in engines, oxy-gas torches, portable stoves and heaters, barbecues and central heating systems. Propane is heavier than air and will sink if it leaks. This makes it a more dangerous fuel source than butane.
- Derose: Flame temperatures
- Doctor Fire: Temperatures in flames and fires
- Straight Dope: What is the hottest part of a flame?
- "Flames: Their Structure, Radiation and Temperature"; Chapman and Hall, London; 1970
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