I am writing with a bit of information that fellow readers might find helpful: We all agree that possessing the means to make fire is important. I suspect that like me, lots of you have put back a supply of disposable butane cigarette lighters. In a grid down world, they would make great barter items.
I have always thought it would be nice to also have some “Old School” liquid fuel lighters, as well. For years, I carried a Zippo lighter, but it was frustrating because the fuel evaporated so quickly that unless I refueled it at least every other day, it might not light. This is such a problem that some folks would cut a section of bicycle inner tube, to cover the joint and slow down evaporation. But then, you had to move the rubber tube each time before you could use the lighter. It was irritating enough that I eventually quit the Zippo, and went with Bic.
I still, however, wanted a liquid fuel alternative that could use a variety of fuels, work reliably, and go for at least a week between refueling. I read about the European counterpart to the Zippo. Most of the American G.I.s carried Zippos in WWII, but the Europeans mostly carried a very different design made by a company in Austria called Imco. The Imco is smaller and lighter than the Zippo. It is windproof and is designed so that you can take the fuel tank and wick out of the lighter mechanism, and use it as you would a candle.
Unfortunately, Imco closed their factory years ago, and surviving lighters are old, sometimes rusty or worn, and increasingly expensive as collector items. I recently discovered that a Japanese company bought the rights to the Imco lighter from the original company. They have started manufacturing them again (in China) and, in my opinion, have improved the lighter in terms of fit, finish and quality. The biggest improvement is that they are now making them out of stainless steel (although the fuel tank is aluminum like the originals). It uses regular Zippo flints, and has a space for storing a spare in the lighter mechanism.
I’ve been using one daily for a couple of months now. You can fuel it with multiple types of fuel, including lighter fluid, kerosene, lamp oil, mineral spirits, Jet A, naphtha, Coleman fuel, and even gasoline in a pinch. My favorite fuel is a synthetic kerosene, which is available under the brand Kleen Heat. In the cold months, your hardware and home center stock this as fuel for kerosene space heaters, and sell it by the gallon. I’m not sure what the difference is between this and regular kerosene, but it burns cleaner and is odorless. (Kerosene has an odor, and creates some sooty black smoke.) I refuel my Imco every seven days, and it lights first time, every time.
Something else to know if you prefer lighter fluid. Commercial lighter fluid is naphtha, which is what Coleman fuel is made from. If you get a small plastic squirt bottle, like a Nalgene two ounce bottle with small spout, and a gallon of Coleman fuel, you can keep your lighter fueled for many years.
Bulk flints are available on eBay, and cost $21 per thousand. That ought to be a lifetime supply.
I bought my Imco lighter through Amazon from Landser Outfitters, LLC, for $10.49, plus $5.14 shipping. They are also available on eBay, direct from China for $8.99 plus 99 cents shipping, but that can take a few weeks for the package to arrive. For a few more bucks, I got mine in two days from a U.S. seller.