Survival Lighters: Do You Need One?

How Long Does A Survival Lighter Last?

When you’re in a survival situation, some things are going to be crucial to your success, and very hard to live without.

Food, water, shelter, and fire, are known as the keys to survival, and in every good prepper knows just how important fire can be in ensuring all of those other things go to plan.

No matter where you’re stuck or what situation you’re in, having instant access to fire and the ability to make it no matter the conditions will be a literal lifesaver.

With fire, you can cook food, sterilize water, scare off wild animals, clean wounds, and provide the warmth that gets you through the night, and the best way to get it is with a survival lighter.

What is a survival lighter and do you really need one?

A survival lighter was designed to give you the ability to make fire wherever you are, and for the prepper and survivalist, they’re a key tool to have. A survival lighter works in all conditions, is waterproof, windproof, and refillable, so they’re always ready for action, provided you have a quality one.

When you’re packing your survival kit or bug out bag, this is one item you don’t want to be without.

Regular lighters are great at starting fires but not usually in the extreme conditions of a survival situation, and it’s not something you want to leave to chance.

We’re going to investigate what a survival lighter does, how it’s unique to other lighters, and why you absolutely need one for your prepping kit.

What Is A Survival Lighter?

Survival Lighters

A survival light is a special kind of lighter designed to withstand extreme conditions and last for years compared to a standard disposable lighter.

There are a few ways that the survival lighter stands out, and makes them ideal for having in your bug out bag or survival kit.

Durable materials

Compared to a disposable lighter that’s usually housed in plastic, a survival lighter is made with durable materials, like metal and strong polymer.

They’re designed not to rust, get wet, or become damaged even if they’re thrown around a bit, which can happen when you live inside a bug out bag.


There are different types of resistance that these lighters come with, depending on your needs. For a survival purpose, it’s best to choose a lighter that’s windproof and waterproof.

If it gets wet and drops in the water it’ll still work, and even if a strong wind is blowing it’ll still be able to light what you need it to.


Unlike disposable lighters, a survival lighter can be refilled with butane or lighter fluid, or it could be an electric type.

This means you can use it for years without having to get a new one, and all you have to do is top it up with the fuel of choice.

Most survivalists pack the lighter and the spare fuel in their kits to make sure they always have access to fire.

The Difference Between Popular Types Of Lighters

Zippo Opened

When you’re packing a survival kit, you want to be sure you have the right tool for every job.

There are loads of ways you can make a fire in the modern world, but not all of them are going to be the perfect fit for a survival situation.

Here’s how the most popular firestarters work and how they differ from the next.

Survival lighter

Made specifically for the outdoors, a survival lighter is the best option for preppers. They’re durable, resistant against moisture and wind, and can be refilled and used for years.

The average price for a lower end survival lighter is around $30 and they can range upwards of a few hundred dollars.


A zippo lighter is a durable, refillable lighter housed in a metal case that comes with a lifetime warranty guaranteeing their quality.

These are a popular choice for prepping kits as they offer some wind resistance, but not as effectively as a survival lighter. Depending on the style and size, they range from $20 and up.

Disposable lighter

A plastic disposable lighter is filled with pressurized liquid gas and can be used to create fire in the right conditions.

These lighters become damaged if they fall, they’re not able to operate in the wind, and they’ll stop working instantly if they come into contact with water, making them useless in survival situations.

They’re the cheapest option though, usually costing less than a dollar to purchase.


Matches are a common choice in survival kits, provided you purchase ones made for this purpose.

A match can be housed in a waterproof container but still require a fairly non-windy setting to work. For survival matches, you will pay between $5 to $10 depending on the quality.

Ferro Rod

A ferro rod is a great option for survival kits, but not as efficient as a lighter. These rods can be used to create hot sparks, and can last for up to 12,000 strikes.

They’re waterproof and can still operate after being submerged in water, but if the wind isn’t right, they can be harder to light.

The price for a quality ferro rod is around $15 and they usually come standard attached to a survival multi-tool.

The Best Fuels For The Job

Pouring Fuel In Survival Lighter

When you’re choosing a survival lighter, you’ll want to pay close attention to the type of fuel that it uses.

People often get caught up with other features like its water resistance or how durable the casing is, but with the wrong choice in lighter fuel, you’ll find it completely useless when you’re in a survival situation.

These are the most common types of survival lighter fuels and what they offer:

Standard lighter fluid

Lighter fluid can be purchased at any store and is the most common way to refill the popular Zippo lighters.

This is the most accessible type of fuel if you’d prefer something that’s always going to be available, but when compared to other fuels, it’s more wasteful.

It’s not as commonly found in windproof flames or with lighters that have to be refilled often, due to this tendency to use a lot more than most.


Butane is a type of gas that’s highly flammable, colorless, and can easily liquefy and vaoprize at room temperature.

Butane burns quickly and is very hot, and if you have a windproof lighter there’s a good chance this is what’s powering it up.

It’s more expensive than standard lighter fluid and harder to get your hands, but worth the extra effort when it comes to a survival situation.

Electric lighter

An electric lighter is one that uses batteries to operate, and this can either be a rechargeable battery or disposable ones.

An electric lighter has the advantage of being splashproof and windproof because there’s no need for a flame to get them going, but they go through quite a lot of battery power.

Unless you plan on having access to batteries or electricity in your survival situation, it’s not a good choice.

Plasma lighter

A plasma operates similarly to an electric lighter and also uses battery power to run.

They need to be recharged often, burn through a lot of energy, and will only be useful if you have the ability to boost their power.

However, they’re great for survival situations because they don’t need an extinguishable flame to work and they do well in the face of wind and moisture.

How Long Does A Survival Lighter Last?

Holding Survival Lighter

As well as being durable and reliable, survival gear also has to stand the test of time when compared to other products.

Just as your food has to be long life and the backpack you carry a bug out bag in needs to be made of strong materials that will last, so too should your lighter, which is why the survival lighter is a smart choice.

Survival lighters range in quality, but the better options come with lifetime warranties that guarantee their commitment.

Cheaper options are still built to last for years, with between 10 and 25 years being standard for a warranty period.

Due to their durable bodies and resistant properties, with the right care, you’ll never have to replace another survival lgither once you buy one.

Compared to a disposable lighter or a pack of survival matches, these lighters will never run out, as long as you remember to keep them topped up.

If you’re someone who likes to have their gear prepared and ready to go, checking the level of the fuel in your survival lighter will be just another part of your checklist, and give you peace of mind that you’ll always have instant access to fire.

Related Questions

Survival lighters are the easiest and most reliable way to make yourself a fire when you’re in a disaster scenario, and they have a place in every good prepper’s kit.

If you want to learn more about making fire in a survival scenario and how these lighters work, we’ve answered some FAQs to help you out.

Do Lighters Leak Gas?

If you want to keep a survival lighter stored in your bag but are worried about it leaking gas, you shound’t be.

These lighters were designed to prevent gas from leaking out, either with a valve that closes when the lid is shut or a cotton swab kept there to stop seepages.

Keep the lighter upright in the bag in a separate compartment to reduce the likelihood of leakages.

What is the Shelf Life of a Lighter?

A disposable plastic lighter can last for up to 20 years unused when stored in the right conditions.

If it’s being used every day, it might last for 12 months or longer, depending on how often it’s ignited.

A survival lighter has been designed to last a lifetime, but will need the gas refilled or batteries recharged to keep it working.

Does Butane for Lighters Go Bad?

Butane is a gas that will last forever, and it’s believed that the can which holds butane will rust and deteriorate before anything happening to the fuel itself.

Having a supply of butane is a smart move for a survival kit as you can guarantee that it won’t evaporate or go bad, provided you keep it in the right conditions.

Greg - Prepping Insider

Hey, I'm a prepping enthusiast. Prepping for me is simply something of a passion. I have personally lived in many different rural properties that have given me a wealth of knoweldge and experience in practically living out survival and preparation situations. It’s not about getting the latest survival gadgets or buckets of food as its more of a lifestyle.

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