This piece of advice is one of the most pervasive bits of stoner culture that I've ever run across. It is common superstition among marijuana smokers that it is bad luck to spark a bowl with a white lighter, especially a solid white Bic. Generally, no reason is given for why this is bad luck, except perhaps that "snitches use white lighters".

I was informed of this rule by the fourth or fifth time I'd ever smoked. To date, I've seen very, very few people smoking a bowl using a white lighter, and the usage of it has almost always drawn comment. This superstition is so seriously held that many times people will not smoke until a suitable non-white lighter has been appropriated. Given the extremes of ingenuity potheads are capable of when faced with the absence of a proper smoking device, the idea of the wrong colored lighter stopping them from smoking that sweet, sweet, ganja suddenly seems unlikely... But it's true.

Since there is no given explanation for this superstition, I've attempted to come up with one of my own.

I knew a cop in middle school who was really, really cool for someone wearing a badge. One of his little tricks was that he could tell if someone was a pot smoker simply by looking at their lighter.

But how?

Once I finally got him to own up to how he did it, it was really simple - when someone smokes, lots of times they'll use the bottom edge of their lighter to tamp down the bowl. This leaves a residue of ash on the white underside of the lighter which is easily recognizable to anyone who knows to look for it. golFUR adds that not just the bottom of the lighter is affected - people tend to lay the lighter horizontally across the top of a hot bowl to reduce oxygen and slow the burn, which leaves a yellow stain. If one were to use a white lighter, these telltale brands of a marijuana smoker could conceivably be visible to even casual inspection every time one pulls out their lighter. Hence, the word of mouth ban against white lighters by marijuana smokers. Further adding to the veracity of this explanation is the fact that this superstition only applies to bongs and bowls, and not joints or blunts.

Funny story - I was trying to relate this piece of wisdom to a friend of mine once, who misheard it as "Never light a bull with a wet lighter." Good advice, that.

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