The Definitive Guide To Zippo Lighters

The Definitive Guide to Zippo Lighters

Zippo is one of the most iconic brand names in the world. Their lighters are known for both their reliability and high quality.

The company was founded in 1932 by George G. Blaisdell in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Inspired by an Austrian company with a similar design, Blaisdell produced the first Zippo lighter in early 1933. On March 3, 1936 the patent was granted for the Zippo lighter.

The name for this brand was inspired by Blaisdell's love of the word, Zipper. He changed it slightly and so the Zippo name was born.

With over eight decades under their belt, the company has turned out thousands of designs, one being lighters specifically for United States Armed Forces.

The History of Zippo

The road to world-wide success for Zippo really began in the 1940′s when the lighters gained popularity with U.S. military members. In fact, during World War II Zippo ceased manufacturing of consumer lighters to concentrate on their military market. Even though they never had a formal contract with them, most of the lighters carried authorized badges, unit crests, and the division insignia for specific units within the military. They were considered a status symbol at the time.

Lighters made during this period were manufactured from brass but as the war produced shortages the lighters soon began to be made from steel. Today those lighters are a treasured collector’s item and it can cost up to $100 or more to acquire one.

Starting in the 1960′s, the Zippo brand of lighters began a campaign to become more appealing to a larger segment of the population. Many of the lighters made during this period were actually hand painted works of art that are still treasured by collectors all over the world today.

Zippo Today

Although the general appearance of the Zippo has changed over the years, the inner workings have remained the same. This tells us that Zippo had it figured out, bringing the customer both quality and style from the very beginning.

Zippo is famous for lighting even when the winds are howling, but they can also light in some of the most extreme weather conditions on the planet. They are highly popular with campers and backpackers who need a reliable source to start a campfire. Many mountain climbers and cold weather backpackers also prefer Zippo because they are more reliable than butane in the coldest of weather.

In addition to their full lines of windproof lighters, butane lighter, and candle lighters, they also produce many accessories that every Zippo owner should have. A number of cool leather lighter pouches and holders are available that you can get to keep your Zippo where it needs to be at all times.

The Zippo Museum

For people who love all things Zippo, the place to be is the Zippo Museum located in Bradford, Pennsylvania. It is ideally located at 1932 Zippo Drive. This 15,000 square foot attraction is home to the world-famous Zippo Case Store and the Zippo Repair Clinic. On the drive up to the museum be sure to take note of the fourteen custom made Zippo lighters that line the drive. At the entrance of the museum is a 40-foot tall Zippo lighter that has a pulsating flame coming out of the top. It’s open seven days a week for self-guided tours and the museum features a number of lighters from every era in company history.

In 1992, Zippo created a 60th Anniversary Zippo lighter, and has made one every year since to commemorate the founding of the company. Each anniversary lighter can be seen here at the Zippo Museum.

The High-Price of Zippo

Zippos lighters come in all price ranges to suit the budget and needs of all their customers. However, if you'd like to be extravagant, Zippo has you covered;

  • an 18 karat gold custom Zippo lighter that goes for over $12,000.
  • In 2003, a vintage 1933 model Zippo lighter sold for over $18,000 at a swap meet in Tokyo
  • the 75th Anniversary celebration in 2007, Zippo sold an almost mint condition 1933 model for over $37,000

Regardless of what you pay for your Zippo they all come with a lifetime warranty and you’ll always hear that distinctive Zippo-click with each and every light thanks to the flint wheel ignition system.

Expect to see more innovative products from Zippo in the future. With the Zippo brand on a product, people from all over the world know to expect long-lasting quality.

Zippo Lighter FAQs

  • What is a flint card?
    This holds flint replacements for Zippo lighters should they need to be replaced. It holds 6 flints. A flint is a small stone that the wheel on a Zippo rubs against to create a spark. This is what lights the lighter fluid in personalized lighters and standard Zippo lighters.

  • What is a wick card?
    This holds wick replacements for Zippo lighters should they need to be replaced. It holds 6 wicks. The wick is a small piece of cloth that holds the flame personalized lighters and on a Zippo Lighter. The flint creates the spark, lighting the fluid on the wick, which stays lit until the custom engraved Zippo lighters are closed

  • Should I purchase wicks and flints at the time I purchase my Zippo Lighter?
    Wicks and flints in your personalized lighter last a while but they can be tough to find locally once they run out. Yes, we would recommend purchasing one of each now as you purchase your engraved Zippo lighters so you don't have to pay any exorbitant shipping charges once they do run out.

  • Do the lighters come with fluid? Do you ship lighter fluid separately?
    No, Zippo lighters ship empty and we don't sell lighter fluid because we can't legally ship it. You can usually find fluid for standard or customized Zippo lighters in any convenience store or cigar shop.

  • What do the letters and numbers on the bottom of a Zippo Lighter stand for?
    The numbers and letters on personalized Zippo lighters indicate the date the lighter was made. The letter on the customized lighters is representative of the month A=January, B=February, C=March, etc. and the two digit number indicates the year 01 stands for 2001, 02 stands for 2002, 03 stands for 2003, etc. This is the way Zippo is currently doing it. They used to use Roman numerals and other methods for determining the "born on" date for personalized Zippos but they no longer do.

  • How do I replace the flint and/or wick on my Zippo Lighter?
    We did a whole blog post about replacing the flint in personalized Zippo lighters, which you can find here: How To Replace The Flint and Wicks on Zippo Lighters

  • What should I get engraved on my Zippo Lighter?
    With engravable Zippo lighters, you can really get creative. We wrote a blog post on this, offering some unique and fun ideas on what to get on your custom lighters: Engraving Ideas for Zippo Lighters . In addition to some "flame" and "light" themed engravings, you can always go with initials First, Middle, Last, a monogram First, Last, Middle or just a name and title like: John, Best Friend on your custom Zippo engraving. We encourage you to have some fun as you have your custom Zippo lighters engraved. Always remember that at Executive Gift Shoppe, it does not add any time to have your Zippo lighters personalized.

  • Can I use something besides lighter fluid to fill up and light my Zippo personalized lighter?
    Never use anything besides lighter fluid in custom Zippo lighters, anything else won't work properly and you risk damaging your engraved lighters. In fact, Zippo recommends that you only use Zippo brand lighter fluid in your personalized lighters.

  • I just received my Zippo and it is not lighting, what is wrong with it?
    Zippos are shipped without fluid so you'll need to fill it up with Zippo lighter fluid. If you've done this and your personalized Zippo is still not lighting, you most likely have not filled it with enough fluid. The first time you fill up your standard or custom lighters, make sure they are filled all the way up to the top, to the point where you can see the fluid. This insures that the wick on the custom Zippo lighter will draw the fluid. Once you've done this once, you should be good to go on future fillings for your engraved lighters.

  • Where can I buy lighter fluid for my custom lighters?
    Most convenience stores and supermarkets will carry lighter fluid. If you're lucky enough to have a cigar or tobacco store near you, they will definitely carry it as well. Finally, big box stores like Wal-Mart will usually stock lighter fluid that can be used in your engraved Zippo lighters. Shop around to find the best source of lighter fluid for you personalized lighter. You should also be able to find additional resources for fuel over at