Zippo is not only a windproof lifetime guarantee and-it-cleans-your-house-too lighter, it's a lifestyle. Standing in a dark corner, the only light from your Zippo that lights a Benson + Hedges shines on your black duster, that's life.

My Zippo glistens in the winter sun... It's still warm from my pocket. It makes a satisfying *clink* as I flip open its lid. The baffle around the wick lets me snap the wheel against the flint, throwing glowing sparks onto the wick, sodden with naptha. Its scent wafts up to my nose and I grin evilly. *flick* I light it. The flame is several inches high, and it belies the strong gusts before it.

It's the kind of lighter that looks at the wind and says "FUCK YOU". . and for that, it is well loved.

Some tricks, to impress and amaze:


Holding the Zippo lighter in your thumb, index and middle fingers (bottom on thumb, top on fingers making sure the hinge is closest to your ring finger.) pinch down hard. The trick is to place your finger tips as close to the back edge of the lid as possible. Light it with your index finger when it pops open.


Hold your Zippo with the hinge pointing away from you in your lesser dominant hand. Bring your thumb and middle finger together like you are going to snap on your dominant hand, and rest the nail of your middle finger just below the lid on the side of the Zippo. Now snap, as your thumb goes up, it should open the lid in a quick motion. Now bring your thumb and middle finger back to the snapping position and rest the side of the middle finger on the flint wheel. Snap again, and the Zippo should light. It is not to impressive when you do it slowly, but with practice, it's cool when you get it faster.


Hold your Zippo in either hand, preferably dominant, between your thumb and index finger so that the hinge faces you. Bring the Zippo down so that the side of the lid grazes the side of your leg. Now bring the Zippo up so the flint wheel grazes your leg. By the time you bring it in front of you, it should be lit. Once again, this only looks cool when it is done quickly.

Just a few Zippo notes

1). After a short while are cheaper
2). If you own a Zippo you will always have a lighter, People don't lose Zippos and most people are too smart too try and steal one.
3). If you keep fluid in it, it will always light
4). Always keep extra flints in it so you have them with you
5). It says something about you when at a party you can flip your Zippo out and light a women’s cigarette
6). In a pinch with a little work one can use a flint out of a disposable lighter. (Not recommended by Zippo)
7). Zippos impress Germans (Long story)
8). I only clean my house when I can’t find my Zippo
9). They just sound, smell, and look cool
In 1932, George G. Blaisdell founded the Zippo manufacturing company in Bradford, Pennsylvania. He obtained the patent rights for the design of an Austrian windproof lighter, made modifications to the style and structure, adding a hinge to the top, squaring the bottom, adding a windhood around the wick. Fascinated with another new invention, the zipper, named his lighter the Zippo. Backing it with the now world-famous guarantee:

Any Zippo lighter, when returned to our factory, will be put in first-class mechanical condition free of charge, for we have yet to charge a cent for the repair of a Zippo lighter, regardless of age or condition. The finish, however, is not guaranteed.

This guarantee gives you specific legal rights and you may also have other rights which vary from state to state. Other Zippo products carry their own specific warranties.

As of today, Zippo has produced over 325 million of their windproof lighters, with case designs ranging from the WWF to Marilyn Monroe. Except for minor modifications to things like flint composition or case decoration, the design remains unchanged from the first that Blaisdell produced in 1932. Today, the factory is still owned by second and third generation members of the Blaisdell dynasty. Although the lighter is by far their most popular product, the company expanded its line in 1962 with a pocket tape measure, one of many experiments, the first of which was perpetrated in 1947 as ‘The Zippo Car’, vaguely reminiscent of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. Zippo currently has branches in over 120 countries, and clubs for collectors of their lighters have been organized in the US, Britain, Japan, and a number of other countries. Zippo also owns W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company, a subsidiary which specializes in hunting and pocket knives.

The Zippo/Case visitors center, which publicizes itself as “the most visited museum in northern Pennsylvania’, is located in Bradsford, PN at 1932 Zippo Drive, right off Route 219. There, visitors can enjoy an American flag made of over 13,000 red, white, and blue lighters, a holographic knife, and occasionally the Zippo Car, when it rests between engagements. The Zippo Repair Center is located within the same building. Proper procedure for having a lighter repaired is as follows:

  • Remove flint from lighter and allow the fuel to evaporate (leave the lid open) for two or three days prior to mailing.
  • Package lighter securely in padded box or envelope.
  • Include name, address, and telephone number inside package, but do not attach anything directly to the lighter. Make sure your complete return address is on the outside of the package.
  • If your lighter has special sentimental value to you, you may want to (a)insure your package, and (b) inform repair staff, in their note, as, if lighter cannot be repaired, they will send you a new one.
  • Mailing address
    Attention: Repair Clinic
    1932 Zippo Drive
    Bradford, PA

I ganked it all from
Yet another bar trick with a Zippo. This has served me well from beaches to boardrooms on three continents, because, well, humans like fire.

Your Zippo must be at least three-quarters full of fuel, preferably the naphtha type and not gasoline or vodka or whatever else you use in a pinch. You'll see why shortly.

  • Hold the lighter snugly in the crook of your fingers with your thumb on top ready to flip the lid.
  • Discreetly shake the lighter up and down out of sight of your audience until you feel fuel spill onto your forefinger.
  • Still out of sight, flip the lid and strike the flint wheel, while sliding your forefinger above and alongside the open lid. The idea is for the flint to ignite the fuel on your finger as well as in the wick.
  • Now as you bring that hand up into view, pass your other hand beside it and thumb the lighter itself out of your main hand, closing it as quietly as possible.
  • You can now present the young lady/cop/pope with an amiably flickering fingertip to light their cigarette.

    As with all sleight-of-hand, you must practice until you can do it all in one smooth move, with the lighter itself silent and unseen and a flame that lasts long enough to light them up, and you not the least bit ruffled. Not enough fuel on your finger and the flame won't last long enough; too much and you will look like an idiot shaking your hand and yelping in pain. Which is why you should use naphtha fuel: gasoline gets much hotter, and faster, and hurts like a bitch.

    Style points for blowing the flame out with a smile.

  • So you have your brand new Zippo lighter. It gleams in the sun. It clicks open and shut with ease and that familiar sound of American quality. It's yours, all yours.

    Now you just need brief instructions on how to fill it and replace the flint or the wick.

    If your Zippo sparks multiple times without lighting, or you've never filled it before, you need to add fuel. Open the lighter and pull the internal case out by the windproof screen. Try to do this a few minutes after you've last had it burning, so you don't scorch your fingers. On one side of the internal lighter is embossed:



    On the other, a warning to keep away from children and to wipe your hands clean of inflammables before you light your lighter, and the text LIGHTER DOES NOT SELF EXTINGUISH. CLOSE LID TO PUT IT OUT.

    The underside of the lighter is a dense felt pad. On one side is a brass screw, which holds both the pad and the flint in place. To fill the lighter with fluid, pry the pad up with a flat object or pull some loose threads with your fingertips. You'll be able to see cotton underneath and possibly the end of the wick. Pour in lighter fluid until the cotton turns dark. If you overfill, the fluid can spill out.

    To replace the flint, unscrew the brass screw (your fingers should be sufficient) and pull it out gently. On the other side of the screw is a spring, and on the end of the spring is a brass plug. If anything remains of your old flint, turn the lighter right-side up and tap it against a desk or table, and the old flint should fall out. Turn it over again and drop a new flint in the hole. Replace the spring and tighten the screw back up hand-tight.

    The wick of your Zippo is cotton string, bound up in thin copper wire to give it some strength and malleability. After a few months the top part of your wick will probably be blackened with the fires of justice. This makes it much harder to light. Zippo has anticipated this problem, however, and has provided you with extra length for your wick within the body of the lighter. To trim and lengthen your ailing wick, first remove the brass screw and flint from the lighter and set them aside. Then pull the felt pad completely out, followed by the cotton. It will come out in pieces easily with a pair of tweezers, or a flathead screwdriver in a pinch. When the cotton is gone the wick will be readily apparent. Pull the wick out; it will slide easily through the hole in the top. You can trim off the burnt end with a pair of scissors, and slide the wick back through its guide hole. It may be necessary to roll the end of the wick between your fingers to cohere it enough to fit through the hole, but avoid licking it as you would thread in order to thread a needle; this wick has lighter fluid on it, remember.

    Pull the wick through until the top is just below the wind screen, then fold the excess wick into the body of the lighter. When repacking the cotton, remember not to push the wick all against the top of the lighter. Thread it through the small pieces as you replace them. When all the cotton is in, replace the felt pad and the flint. Test your lighter a few times to make sure you are satisfied.

    Treat your Zippo with care, and it will return the favor with years of loyal service.

    Zippo Bottom Stamp Symbols

    After spending a rather silly amount of time trying to find out what exactly is the meaning of the symbols on the bottom of the Zippo casing (a letter to the left of the Zippo logo and a number on the right, above the location of manufacture) and finding practically no information, I emailed Zippo to ask for an answer. This answer was long, complicated and quite interesting, so I will summarize it here.

    Basically, they describe when the Zippo was made. Lighters fabricated between 1933 and 1957 bore patent numbers - these were phased out in favour of date codes for the purposes of quality control. They are ordered like this:

    • 1933 - 1937; Patent Pending
    • 1937 - 1950; Patent 2032695
    • 1942 - 1946; Black Crackle, Patent 203695 (this number is printed in error, it should read 2032695)
    • 1950 - 1957; Patent 2517191/Patent 2517191 with patent pending

    Zippo records show "an overlap of bottom stamp configurations from 1949 - 1957. Also some lighters produced between 1955 - 1957 were date coded, however, specifics remain unclear."

    After this, it gets a little complicated, as Zippo started using date codes consisting of dots, vertical lines and diagonal lines, like this:

    • Year        Left        Right
    • 1958     • • • •      • • • •
    • 1959     • • • •       • • •
    • 1960      • • •         • • •
    • 1961      • • •          • •
    • 1962         • •          • •
    • 1963         • •            
    • 1964                        
    • 1965         
    • 1966     |  |  |  |      |  |  |  |
    • 1967     |  |  |  |       |  |  |
    • 1968      |  |  |          |  |  |
    • 1969      |  |  |           |  |
    • 1970        |  |            |  |
    • 1971        |  |              |
    • 1972         |                |
    • 1973         |
    • 1974     /  /  /  /      /  /  /  /
    • 1975     /  /  /  /       /  /  /
    • 1976      /  /  /         /  /  /
    • 1977      /  /  /          /  /
    • 1978        /  /           /  /
    • 1979        /  /             /
    • 1980         /               /
    • 1981         /
    • 1982     \  \  \  \       \  \  \  \
    • 1983     \  \  \  \         \  \  \
    • 1984      \  \  \          \  \  \
    • 1985      \  \  \           \  \
    • 1986        \  \             \  \

    ...although in 1979, an error was made. One of the lines was removed from the left rather than right, so that it read / //. This was corrected later the same year to appear // /.

    Effective July 1st 1986 the dot and slash system was replaced by a month/year code. The year of manufacture is represented by a Roman numeral, starting in 1986 as II and increasing one per year. This ended January 1st 2001, when the number became simply the last two digits of the year (for example, 2001 would be 01).

    The month code has lasted from 1986 until today, probably thanks to its simplicity. The month is represented by a letter(A = Jan, B = Feb etc.). This meant that for the year the system was introduced they ran G - L (rather than A-L).

    As a note of interest, the appearance of the word Zippo has changed over time as well. From 1933 to the mid-50's the word Zippo was simply stamped in simple block letters. In the late 40's the script logo, essentially the word Zippo in a font that appears handwritten and in italics, was conceived. This was phased in around 1955. In the late 70's the logo was redesigned again into its modern incarnation - the word Zippo in a simple, rounded font and a flame for the dot of the i - and in 1980 this was incorporated into the bottom stamp.

    Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.