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Old 11-28-2019, 04:18 AM
psychonaut is offline
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Exploding lighters at rock concerts (or anywhere else)


Everyone knows that it's a tradition to hold your lighter aloft at big rock concerts when the band plays a famous ballad, and maybe also at the start of the concert and during the encore call. (Or at least, I hope that people still know that this is/was a thing. I suppose the practice is being supplanted by people holding aloft their smartphones.)

Anyway, what fewer people seem to know is that disposable lighters, like the sort manufactured by BIC, will explode if you keep them lit for too long. I was skeptical when I first heard about this myself, as a young lad, so of course the first thing my friends and I did was to buy a pack of BIC lighters, duct-tape their butane release levers down, light them all, and then back up a safe distance. Sure enough, the lighters all exploded violently after a few minutes.

However, these two pieces of knowledge appear to be incompatible. How is it that I have never heard of anyone at a rock concert getting their fingers blown off after keeping their BIC alight for an entire song? Or did this sort of thing happen all the time back in the day, but Big Butane has suppressed any and all news coverage with big payouts of hush money?
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Old 11-28-2019, 04:49 AM
bob++ is offline
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Apparently the lighter thing was started by pot smokers at concerts in California. I couldn't find any record of self-exploding Bics but throwing one onto a barbeque will (as you would expect) make a satisfying explosion.

https://youtu.be/s5VHaVplbas?t=91
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Old 11-28-2019, 08:14 AM
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Is it actually possible to keep such lighters burning continuously for several minutes? I seem to recall that within 30 seconds the lighter was too hot to continue holding so the thumb had to come off the lever before it was baked to crispness.
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Old 11-28-2019, 08:21 AM
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I seen those cheaper "flat" style lighters explode on their own, if left in the Arizona summer sun for a few hours. I heard one of them go off.
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Old 11-28-2019, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
Is it actually possible to keep such lighters burning continuously for several minutes? I seem to recall that within 30 seconds the lighter was too hot to continue holding so the thumb had to come off the lever before it was baked to crispness.
This was my thought too.

Interesting "safety" mechanism. How you do keep the lighter from being left on too long? Burn the user's finger.
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Old 11-28-2019, 09:18 AM
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now most people use their cell phone rather than a lighter
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Old 11-28-2019, 09:24 AM
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You don't say?
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:42 AM
Tim@T-Bonham.net is offline
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Originally Posted by psychonaut View Post
... How is it that I have never heard of anyone at a rock concert getting their fingers blown off after keeping their BIC alight for an entire song?
Most rock songs are only 2-3 minutes long. I suspect your experiment involved waiting longer than that for the lighters to explode. As Gary T. said, they get too hot to hold fairly soon. (Possibly, that heat is the reason they explode -- the extended heat either weakens the plastic container holding the gas, so it escapes & then the cloud of gas is ignited?)
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:45 PM
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Thanks to everyone who's responded so far. It's looking like the explanations offered (i.e., that the lighter gets too hot to hold, and that it needs to be kept lit for longer than a typical song anyway) are probably correct. (Though if anyone wants to repeat the experiment of my youth to find out just how long an explosion does take, please let us all know.)
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:55 PM
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According to this site that I know nothing else about, it will take about 10 minutes of continuous burn to melt the top portion, which I'm guessing would cause it to then explode.

https://skyaboveus.com/wilderness-su...c-Lighter-Last
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:58 PM
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not unusual for a concert version of a song be much longer than an album version with all the extra jamming and solos.
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Old 11-29-2019, 04:23 PM
Joey P is online now
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I used to do it on purpose. I'd tape the button down, spin the flint wheel to get it lit and hang it upside down. Within 30 seconds or so the flame would melt through the plastic and the lighter would blow up. I recall it sounding like a gunshot on my garage.

I didn't know you could do it right side up. Or at least I wouldn't have guessed you could hold it long enough to do that. They don't take all that long to get hot enough to be uncomfortable to handle.
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Old 11-29-2019, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bijou Drains View Post
now most people use their cell phone rather than a lighter
I have a lighter app on my cell phone. It looks like a Zippo when lit.
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