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Old 01-21-2010, 08:11 PM   #1
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Default HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

I don't really need help, but I do want to understand why.

I recently bought a propane-fired space heater for the garage to ward off the chill of New England winters whilst I enjoy an after dinner cigar. I'm a big fan of the word "whilst", but I digress. Because I'm also a big fan of go big or go home, I probably bought a larger heater than I really needed. This thing pumps out A LOT of heat, and our single stall garage is toasty warm in no time; toasty to the point where I'm comfortable in a t-shirt. (Sans heater, I'd need a full winter jacket to keep warm as the garage is not insulated all that well.)

Here's my problem. Once the garage becomes hot, my lighters refuse to work. I only have torch lighters and have experienced the same problem with all of them, so I know it's not an issue with a single lighter. Quite by accident I discovered that upon opening the garage door, they go back to their old torch-like reliable selves.

Obviously, there's something about the heat (or maybe the humidity?) that's causing the lighters to fritz out. My question is: WHY?

BTW, I've come up with a work around by leaving the garage door open just a tiny crack, but I'm interested in understanding the science behind what's happening.

Thanks.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

a little short on the O2 mix after that big monster uses a big gulp with a big flame?
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Vin, wish I could offer some insight to this, but Ive never had any issues with the lighters being too hot. On the contrary, if the lighter is sitting on the table, and gets too cool, i cant get them to light.

You should keep the door cracked anyway, you dont want Grace to come in there and find you passed out.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Sounds to me like you have an oxygen shortage with that propane heat monster sucking it all up. You might want to check that situation as you could go out with the lighter. Not much other reason for the door opening to cure the problem.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Quote:
Originally Posted by md4958 View Post
... You should keep the door cracked anyway, you dont want Grace to come in there and find you passed out.
Any chance she has found him passed out before?

(Unrelated to the heater, of course.)
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Quote:
Originally Posted by md4958 View Post
Vin, wish I could offer some insight to this, but Ive never had any issues with the lighters being too hot. On the contrary, if the lighter is sitting on the table, and gets too cool, i cant get them to light.

You should keep the door cracked anyway, you dont want Grace to come in there and find you passed out.


Seems like your lighter is a canary.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyJoe View Post
Any chance she has found him passed out before?

(Unrelated to the heater, of course.)
Maybe ...
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Quote:
Originally Posted by replicant_argent View Post
a little short on the O2 mix after that big monster uses a big gulp with a big flame?


It's probably also pumping out Carbon Monoxide. Keep that door cracked.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Don't run the heater in an enclosed space. You need fresh air. It should have come with multiple warnings about this.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Odd... Usually COLD butane won't light. Got me!
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:35 PM   #11
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Footbag View Post


It's probably also pumping out Carbon Monoxide. Keep that door cracked.
Indeed! Strongly recommend a carbon monoxide detector. Also, make make sure you heater has an "oxygen depletion sensor" built into it.
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:42 PM   #12
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Quote:
Originally Posted by markem View Post
Don't run the heater in an enclosed space. You need fresh air. It should have come with multiple warnings about this.
Dude..... Read the directions????











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Old 01-21-2010, 08:43 PM   #13
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

i agree with some of the others in this thread, when you are using that heater for a prolonged period it is using up a lot of the oxygen in the garage thus the sensitive torch lighters will not stay lit. you should be very careful being in an enclosed space with that heater if the lighters dont have enough O2 to light it is probably not enough for you
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Old 01-21-2010, 08:59 PM   #14
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Switch to an electric heater - that is what I have in
my garage (got the heater at costco) and my lighters work fine.
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:09 PM   #15
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

You know, I have the same problem with one of my torch lighters.

If I have it in my back pocket for a long time and it gets a little hot just from body heat, it doesn't want to stay lit...

I picked up a Xikar and it doesn't matter how hot that thing gets, it lights every time.
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:23 PM   #16
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Quote:
Originally Posted by issues View Post
You know, I have the same problem with one of my torch lighters.

If I have it in my back pocket for a long time and it gets a little hot just from body heat, it doesn't want to stay lit...

I picked up a Xikar and it doesn't matter how hot that thing gets, it lights every time.
With respect, this is probably not the same problem. The OP described a situation where the space heater is too large for the space and is using up the oxygen in the air. This is very dangerous!

Please, let's not confuse a potentially life threatening situation with sticking a lighter in your pocket.
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:25 PM   #17
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wharf Rat View Post
With respect, this is probably not the same problem. The OP described a situation where the space heater is too large for the space and is using up the oxygen in the air. This is very dangerous!

Please, let's not confuse a potentially life threatening situation with sticking a lighter in your pocket.
My apologies, I should have read a little more and skimmed a little less...
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:29 PM   #18
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

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My apologies, I should have read a little more and skimmed a little less...
No need to apologize. I'm just worried that we need to get the OP to take action to protect himself.
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Old 01-22-2010, 12:24 AM   #19
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Vin, here's my take on your situation based on what I've learned of combustion reactions while studying Organic chemistry thus far.

Propane and butane both both use oxygen during combustion in order to produce energy. In your case propane is used in your heater whilst butane being used in your lighter's. Butane is composed of a 4 carbon chain whilst propane is composed of a 3 carbon chain. In order to have a balanced chemical reaction the higher carbon chain fuel will need more oxygen in order to fully combust. The higher carbon chain being butane. This part of my answer is fact.

I hypothesize that the propane is getting sufficient oxygen for combustion, at least for a time, whilst leaving the butane with insufficient oxygen, being a higher carbon chain, and therefore needing more oxygen than the propane to react. This is the best answer I have as to why your lighter's won't work in your garage while the door is shut and the heater is on. According to this hypothesis, if you had a lighter which used methane or ethane, it would likely work.

There is slightly more to it but that's about the gist. You really should leave the door open though because the propane in your heater will not fully combust with a limited oxygen supply and will therefore also produce carbon monoxide which will bond to your hemoglobin and deprive your cells of much needed oxygen. Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless it is undetectable to humans and can often be fatal before noticing symptom's of it's affect on the body.

In short, leave the door open. I like you and would prefer that you remain alive my friend. If you do fancy the door being closed then I implore you to get a carbon monoxide detector as was stated by other BOTL on this thread. I hope this was a helpful answer to your question of why your lighter behaves the way it does in your given situation.

Last edited by mariogolbee; 01-22-2010 at 12:30 AM. Reason: Cleaned it up a bit.
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Old 01-22-2010, 06:11 AM   #20
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Default Re: HELP: My Lighters Won't Stay Lit

Ok ok ok - door open

Thanks for the concern guys. My mom always said cigars would kill me. It would be just a tad ironic if something horrible happened in my pursuit of this "hobby".

Your points are very well taken. You can consider me slightly less warm in the garage though much more oxygenated.


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