Name: Zippo BLU Dusted Chrome Butane Lighter
MSRP: $56 (available for $32.99 at BuyLighters.com)
Zippo is a name that even non-smokers have known for a long time. Their fluid-based lighters have been well-known and well-respected since they opened up in 1932. But the fluid used tends to leave a bad taste when used to light cigars. A couple of years ago the company introduced the new Zippo BLU lighter which uses butane for fuel. Our good friends and sponsor over at BuyLighters.com sent us one to try out. I’ve been using this lighter as my main source of flame for 2 months now.
The Zippo BLU carries some of the same design cues as the classic Zippo lighter, but has a few touches that make it distinct. It’s roughly the same width as the traditional lighter, but is taller, and features a slight taper at the head, and little bit more of one at the bottom, giving the BLU an almost rounded coffin-type shape as opposed to the traditional squarish Zippo. The side of the lighter has a 1/2″ fuel level window that is easy to read. A half inch doesn’t sound like much, but it is easily one of the largest fuel windows I’ve seen in a pocket lighter, if not the largest. The bottom of the lighter has the filling valve and a flame adjustment. The flame adjustment is a little awkward, and requires a small screwdriver or pen knife to adjust. The hinge on the lid is very sturdy, and produces that distinctive Zippo click when opening and closing. Opening the lid reveals the traditional Zippo wheel plus an ignition button, and a good size torch burner. Unlike the regular Zippo, the inner piece is not removable, but since the fuel valve is on the bottom of the case it’s actually much easier to fill a BLU than the regular Zippo. The dusted chrome finish on this model is very nice, and gives a classy, traditional look. After 2 months of banging around in my left hip pocket with my car keys, mini Leatherman, and other assorted paraphernalia, scratches are surprisingly minimal, and only evident after specifically looking for them.
After I received the lighter, I bled the tank, and filled it with Xikar butane, and went out on my balcony for a test drive. The wheel didn’t want to budge after I flicked it. Tried a few more times, and it finally loosened up enough where I could spark the ignition, and produced a skinny, solid flame. It easily handled the 52 ring gauge cigar I was smoking with minimal effort. I used the BLU on everything from lanceros up to about 56 ring gauge cigars, and did it in relatively short order, and did not overheat the cigar. I don’t usually smoke 60 ring gauge stogies, but I don’t think the BLU would have a problem with it. Even when holding the button down to keep the flame going, it never became hot. This is a pet peeve of mine, and something I look for in a lighter. There is nothing I hate more in a lighter than when you are passing it around at a shop or a herf, and the button gets so hot from the flame it burns your thumb. The BLU never felt hot after using it. The flame produced stayed solid and strong, never flickering or wavering like some jet lighters do when there is extra air in the tank. It also held up well in the wind. Perhaps because of the lid, I felt like I needed a longer flame, and kept the flame adjustment pretty high. The side affect of this was the flame would often stay lit for 2 or 3 seconds after I let go of the button. Not a huge deal, but it is a waste of butane, and the more you are spending on butane the less you’re spending on cigars. Perhaps because I had the flame up so high, I tended to go through butane rather quickly. I was refilling it after about 8-10 cigars, which isn’t terrible, but not the best I’ve seen either. When the butane level got low, it wasn’t necessary to look at the fuel window to tell. The flame height would drop very low, not clearing the spark wheel, and pretty much making it impossible to light up a cigar with. A quick bleed and fill always resolved the problem.
Overall, I think this was a good, solid lighter. The pros are the nice, contemporary design, quality, large fuel window, and steady performance. The downsides were the difficult flame adjustment, the stiffness of the spark wheel at first, and the relative speed in which it goes through butane. While a little over priced at the MSRP of $56, the BuyLighters.com price of $33 is more than reasonable for the BLU. Now, you might wonder why you might choose this over a traditional Zippo with a butane insert. That is what my usual pocket lighter is. For one thing, I like that the fill valve is on the bottom, and doesn’t require removal to fill or adjust. The BLU also has better quality materials, and doesn’t require 2 separate purchases (one Zippo, one insert) to work. The lack of a spark wheel in the insert makes for easier use, but having it in the BLU makes it easy to identify as a Zippo product. The BLU is a quality lighter, and definitely worth picking up if you are a Zippo fan.