Here is what I would consider a regular Bic butane lighter.

bic lighter

However I have noticed that you can buy High Altitude lighters such as this one. Is that just marketing or would a regular lighter not work at high altitudes?

  • 1
    What do you consider high altitudes? The only real problem I've observed has been with piezo igniters, which is why I'd actually expect the "high altitude" one you listed to fare worse than the pictured Bic. – requiem Mar 30 '17 at 7:41
  • 4
    Smells a bit like a marketing opportunity to me... :) – Liam Mar 30 '17 at 10:03
  • I have used that very lighter at 14k+ feet, which is considered "high altitude" by some. – That Idiot Aug 29 '17 at 16:46
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think it does not matter which lighter you use if it's filled with butane. Lighter would not work if gas temperature close to boiling temperature. For butane it's -1C. For isobutane it's -11C and for propane it's -42C. Also propane has better evaporation properties. That's why gas stoves filled with 20% propane and 80% isobutane.

  • 1
    but boiling temperature changes with pressure, and pressure changes with altitude... – njzk2 Mar 30 '17 at 13:47
  • @njzk2 under high altitude I understand something like 6000m. So on this altitude with air temperature -35C pressure would be 0.042MPa. Boiling temperature for butane would be -20C. So lighter would not work if my calculation is correct. – user1209304 Mar 30 '17 at 14:36
  • It depends where you carry your lighter. In subzero conditions I used to have an inside pocket kit with a torch (and spare rechargeable batteries) and camera batteries. The lighter could be added to that. – Chris H Mar 30 '17 at 19:05
  • This is very unclear. What do you mean by "boiling temperature"? What is being boiled? at a low temperature? – Martin F Mar 31 '17 at 2:16
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    To clarify the "boiling" remark, lighters are pressurized to the point that the butane is liquid, not gas inside the lighter. In order for the lighter to work, the liquid needs to turn to gas when the valve is open at a sufficient rate to mix with the O2 in the air to burn. – Fred the Magic Wonder Dog Apr 3 '17 at 16:24

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