flic my bic

How much explosive power is packed inside a bic lighter?

I’ve often wondered if several of them wired and taped together would be an effective blast.

I suspect this thread will soon be locked. Posts about things that go boom are generally a no-no at the SDMB.

I cooked the top off of one once, using it as a flashlight. The metal got hot enough to start melting things around the valve, which ceased to function (i.e., would not close).

While it sort of scared me, as flame throwers go, it was kind of a sparkler. No big deal.

Yes, surprisingly, small, translucent cheaply manufactured Chinese lighters that are intended to be carried around in one’s pocket are not that highly pressurized.

The liquid fuel inside volatilizes easily and they don’t pack much punch.

Plain 'ol propane canisters have much more explosive power.

When I was young and stupid (around 14), I played with all sorts of things flammable and explosive, Bic lighters included. One of my experiments answers your question.

I layed a half-empty Bic on its side with the bottom hanging off the side of my front step. I started the lower corner of it on fire with another lighter (basically, when the plastic started to “bubble”). I then ran and took cover. (The only smart thing I did.)

About 15-20 seconds later, the plastic melted enough to get to the fuel chamber. A loud pop occurred, and I heard the top assembly hit the ground about 50 feet away from its launch site. Powerful on its own scale, but not easy enough to light or predictable enought to time. I could’ve easily have become “Lefty”.

I’ll tell you about the time I ignited an Estes model rocket engine inside my bedroom. :rolleyes:

I’ve put fairly new Bic lighters in camp fires before.

While a stupid thing to do, it wasn’t anything to write home about.

My expierences have been similar to AWB’s, I used to hand them upside down and tape the button down. Then I’d light them and get away. After about 10 seconds the metal top would fall off and a few seconds after that it sounded like a gunshot. I’m not sure about being lefty, but probably flesh woundy or really nasy burny. (<— What I mean is, I don’t know if it will blow off a limb but it would cause a hospital trip if one were close enough to it, luckily I was a pyro at the time, and when it came to fire I usually knew what I was dealing with and stood at an appropriate distance.)

But lighter fluid is not an explosive (or even a source of energy.) It can only explode if oxygen is added. The explosive power packed inside a Bic lighter is zero. Genuine explosives (gunpowder) are different. Gunpowder can go bang right away. You don’t have to first spread it around and mix it with the air before igniting it. The energy “inside” lighter fluid is actually stored BETWEEN the fuel molecules and the air molecules. We could just as easily ask how much explosive power is packed in each cubic foot of atmosphere. It’s zero. Only fuel and air together can make explosions, and the energy isn’t in just the fuel molecules or just the air molecules.

I remember an SF short story where someone shipped a fighter jet to a planet with a dense methane atmosphere. Jet engines can’t run in a methane atmosphere… unless the fuel tank is full of liquid oxygen! In that case the “fuel” is free, and the “oxidizer” is a rare and expensive commodity, as if all the energy was stored in the oxidizer, while the fuel had none itself.