How to Refill a Bic Lighter Like a Pro (Three Simple Methods)

Technically, Bic lighters are not supposed to be refillable.  But I hate the idea of buying a new lighter every time mine runs out of fuel.

It’s financially wasteful.

Creates more plastic waste.

And goes against the morals of self-reliance. 

So, I learned some hacks to refill a Bic lighter.  Some of these work better than others.

*I wrap strips of duct tape around my Bic lighter so I always have some with me.  Here are some other examples of everyday carry (EDC).

A Word of Warning

Refilling Bic lighters is pretty common in some parts of the world.  On a trip to Palestine, I saw market vendors who would refill your lighter for a fraction of the cost of a new lighter.  Apparently, this is also done in places like Cuba and Nepal.

However, I’ve also heard stories about hacked refilled lighters exploding.  All these stories are anecdotal, but it probably could occur (even not-hacked Bic lighters sometimes explode in high temperatures).

There’s also the issue of leaking anytime you hack a lighter.  Again, I doubt it would happen, but butane could leak from a lighter and then ignite if someone lit a flame nearby.

In other words, refill a Bic lighter at your own risk!

Why Would You Want to Refill a Bic Lighter Anyway?

If you use lighters so often that you have to refill them frequently, you will probably be better off buying a refillable lighter.

There are plenty that are cheap and just as good as (if not better than) a Bic lighter.  As far as butane lighters go, I like this one. (Amazon Link).

You can see our picks for best survival lighters here.  If you don’t know much about lighters, I suggest reading this guide to types of lighters.

However, knowing how to refill a disposable lighter is a good survival skill.  For example, in this interview, a Bosnian War survivor talks about how he refilled lighters as a barter item.

“I had a container of cooking gas. But I did not use it for heat – that would be too expensive! I attached a nozzle to it I made myself and used to fill lighters. Lighters were precious. If a man brought an empty lighter, I would fill it and he would give me a tin of food or a candle.”

Read other SHTF barter item ideas here.

3 Ways to Refill a Bic Lighter

Method 1: Push Pin Plug

This method of refilling a Bic lighter is straightforward and very messy!

You will end up with some butane spraying around. 

Also, the push pin doesn’t always create a perfect seal.  You might have some butane leaking out of the lighter, especially if you try to refill the same Bic lighter multiple times.

So, while this method might work one or two times on a lighter, it isn’t a permanent solution for refilling Bic lighters.

Supplies Needed:

  • Push pin/thumbtack
  • Rubber grommets, rubber gasket, or wide rubber band
  • Snips or pliers and a file (optional)

Step 1: Open Valve At Bottom of Lighter

Push your pin into the little hole at the bottom of the Bic lighter.  There is a small ball in that hole that seals the gas in the reservoir.  You want to push that ball inside the lighter.   You’ll be able to hear it shaking around inside.

Note that if the lighter isn’t empty, you will get a spray of butane.  It can take you by surprise, so don’t be scared. 🙂

Step 2: Put Grommets Over Butane Canister Valve

If you just pushed the butane canister valve into the hole you made, butane would spray all over the place.  So, you need to put something on the valve to make a better seal.

One solution is to use a few rubber grommets.  Choose grommets that fit snuggly over the valve.  You can also use a rubber gasket.  In a pinch, you can use a wide rubber band.  Use your pin to make a tiny hole in the rubber band and put the valve through the hole.

Step 3: Fill the Lighter

Holding the lighter upside down, fill it with butane.  It will take about 30 seconds for a classic-size Bic lighter to fill.

Step 4: Put Thumb Over Hole

As you remove the butane canister, quickly put your thumb over the hole in the Bic lighter.  Otherwise, all the butane will just spurt out.

Step 5: Plug Hole with Push Pin

Move your thumb off the hole and quickly put a push pin in it. This will plug the hole and keep the butane inside.

The video shows a standard-type push pin being used to plug the hole.  It looks really ugly, so you can use snips to shorten the pin and a file to smooth it down.  Or use a flathead push pin.


Method 2: Installing a Refill Valve (No Pin Method)

With this method, you install a refill valve at the bottom of the lighter. This allows you to refill the Bic lighter over and over again.  There are no annoying push pins, putting your thumb over the hole, or butane spurting everywhere when you refill.

You’ll need a small gas refill valve to do this.  Replacement valves for airsoft guns work well, such as this one (Amazon Link) or this one.

It might also be possible to remove the refill valve from a broken refillable lighter and put it in your Bic lighter. Unfortunately, lots of cheap refillable lighters use valves that don’t have screw heads and have very long stems. You won’t be able to get them into a Bic.

*If anyone knows anywhere else to find lighter refill valves, let us know in the comments section!


  • Drill and drill bits
  • Gas refill valve

Step 1: Push Ball into Lighter

Find the little hole on the bottom of your Bic lighter. Using a pin or drill bit, push on it until the ball falls inside the lighter.

Step 2: Widen the Hole with a Drill

Next, you will need to drill into the hole you made.  You want to widen it so your refill valve can fit inside.  The drill bit should be no wider than the valve you plan on using.  Ideally, the valve will be just a hair larger than the drill bit.

Step 3: Shake Out Ball Bearing

Once your hole is drilled, flip the lighter over.  Shake it to get the ball and any debris from drilling out of the lighter.

Step 4: Break Divider Inside Lighter

BIC lighters have a plastic divider inside the fuel chamber. You won’t be able to get your refill valve into the lighter if this divider is still in place.  So, you’ll need to stick something inside the lighter (such as a drill bit) and chip away at the divider. When you are done, shake out the debris.

Step 5: Insert Refill Valve

Screw the refill valve into the hole.  You might need to use a razor to scrape out the edge of the hole a bit.  Some people put a dab of silicone around the valve threads to create an airtight seal.

Step 6: Fill with Butane

Now you can refill the Bic lighter just like you would any refillable lighter.


Method 3: Refill Bic Lighter from Top

Despite what many online tutorials say, you can NOT refill a Bic lighter from the top.

When I tried it, I ended up with butane spraying everywhere.  Some people still claim that this method will work if you get a butane nozzle that fits exactly on the Bic lighter.  But, I doubt it: the jet and valve mechanism in a Bic lighter is different than those in other disposable lighters, so butane won’t go into the lighter from the top.

If you want to refill a non-Bic disposable lighter, though (one with an adjustable flame), the method shown in the video works well enough.


Have you refilled your Bic lighter? How did it go? Let us know your tips in the comments section below.

Also, you may be interested in these articles:

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Leave a comment

  1. i refill butane cans with propane and then refill bic with the propane. i’ve been smoking dope all goddamn day and have used the same bic lighter for almost two years. bazinga!

  2. Why? I’ve had some (considerable) experience in the compressed gas industry. Why take the risk? And RISK is what this all about. Minimal RISK for maximum GAIN has to be at the forefront of any survival activity.

    Go out and buy a refillable lighter with a piezo electronic ignition system. Actually if you are lucky, you will get one for less than the cylinder of butane used to refill it. I have several, and never paid more than 5 bucks for any of them. Minimal risk in refilling a device designed and built to that purpose.

    NOTE Also: the BIK lighters mentioned here have a “flint” which is designed to last the life of the lighter and a little more. Once the “flint” is gone refilling is useless.

  3. Hi.

    Regarding the option where you put an inlet valve in the BIG:

    Instead of using a razor blade to scrape out the edge of the hole – then you Can just use a drill bit that is bigger than the one you use to drill through the bottom. But ONLY drill a tiny little bit – NOT the Hole Way through of course.

  4. So technically on the gas valve method way wouldnt you still spray butane out when you push the ball in? And when your drilling your hole?it didn’t really mention anything about making sure to start with empty lighter for that method

  5. If you insert the valve in the bottom at the certer, when breaking the middle out of the inside, becare not to break too far up because that is also the part that holds the flint and the long spring that keeps pressure on the spring. From the bottom if you off set the valve to the side opposite wear your thumb presses the valve for the gas when lightning the lighter, if you look very close, there is a dot made in the manufacturing process that is a perfect mark to drill a hole for a valve and you don’t have to worry about that middle section. Now next, although a little bit more tricky but a better location for putting the most fuel in per refill in my experience is on the side of the lighter, about half an inch down underneath the red thumb tab, on the most rounded part. The valve will stick out a good little bit but definitely does not get in my way when lighting and holding the lighter, I’m sure people with big hands might actually touch the valve when holding it with it in this location but I still don’t think it would be a discomfort. With doing it here becareful of not having a valve that is going to touch that center part as mentioned above. Also to make sure that you have plenty of plastic for your valve to seat around as the wall of the lighter is very thin, you want to leave as much plastic as possible, so instead of drilling the hole out to the correct size, make a hole as small as you can then use a lighter and, Yes, sit the lighter on fire right at the hole, half second and lighter actually catching fire at a time so you can more easily control hole size and watch how the plastic is melting to make sure it doing so evenly from the small original hole outward. What this does is instead of where a drill bit removes the plastic, this builds up the plastic uround the hole giving the valve more area to touch the lighter, making for a stronger place for the threeds to bite. Also, before I start working on an “empty lighter”, before I make any punture in the lighter, I tape the red button down and leave the lighter for atleast an hour to make sure as much pressure as possible is released from the lighter. Hope someone finds something I said here helpful.

  6. Worked!!! I used a rubber band and constantly tied and twisted the band around the butane refill part and once I did that it started to fill and as soon as I took it off IT STARTED SPRAYING!! I put the thumb tack at the bottom and my lighter works again! Amazing article!

    • Glad it helped. The process is definitely not as easy or smooth as some articles would have you think. Hope you were outside when it started spraying 😀


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