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  • Writer's pictureRitwic Singh

Who made lighters and why though?

Why does anyone need a lighter really? We can just pull a massive burning log of firewood from the neighborhood bonfire. People had been doing that just about 200 years ago. Lighters is one of the many hidden everyday items that people often attune with their muscle memory and forget how vital and useful it really is to their lives. History of lighters can be dated back to the paleolithic era though they weren’t actual lighters, just firewood. The first time matches were used was in 1805 which seems a little late considering the 11,000 years had passed since the end of the paleolithic era. The first match was invented by a chemist named Louis Chancel. 18 years later, the first known lighter was invented, Döbereiner’s Lamp by Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner. This was a dangerous combination of sulfuric acid, zinc and hydrogen gas and was prone to spontaneous combustion. The next major development in lighters wasn’t until almost 80 years after the invention in 1903. Maverick entrepreneur and inventor Carl Auer von Welsbach patented an alloy called ferrocerium which produced a spark when struck. This was developed into the flint still present in modern day lighters. This improved portability and seven years later, the first novelty lighter was developed Ronson lighters. As war often does, the first world war rapidly improved technology and lighters were part of this evolution as well. Smaller and discrete lighters were developed out of bullet casings helping soldiers avoid detection on the battle field. Ronson lighters led the early race to invest in lighter design with the first automatic lighter being invented in 1926 with a push release activation. Zippo, one of the most popular lighter brands in the world was founded in 1932 in Pennsylvania. Zippo lighter was standard for the US army in WWII. The next major movement in lighter design was spearheaded by a French company named Feudor who created the first disposable lighter in 1961, the most common modern use lighter. They were later bought and branded as The Cricket. Bic started manufacturing lighters in 1973 and was responsible for more than 60% of the market share of disposable lighters in the 70s. Though further modernization has occurred in the lighter technology, nothing has stuck for as long as the Bic flint lighter. The most vital takeaway is that though improvements are consistent, simplicity and minimalism is much easier to retain.


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