The Best Survival Lighters: Reliable Flame No Matter the Situation

A good survival lighter should be reliable. It should provide many lights before running out of fuel – and possibly even still work if you completely run out of fuel or work with alternative fuels.

You might also want features like a floating case or being windproof. But, most importantly, survival lighters should be easy to use.

The ease of use makes a survival lighter different from a survival fire starter.

Firestarters like Ferro rods, sparkwheels, or fire pistons require a lot of skill.

They also AREN’T practical in many survival situations, like when you’ve got subpar tinder or your hands are freezing cold. So, save these as a backup if you run out of fuel in your lighter.

Ideally, you should get at least two types of survival lighters. You’ll want ones that work on different kinds of fuel so you have more options in case one runs out.

For example, I have many refillable butane lighters plus a plasma lighter that can be recharged with a portable solar panel. If you aren’t sure about types, read this post about the 9 types of lighters.

Below, you’ll find the best survival lighters based on type.

1. Bic Lighters: Overall Best Survival Lighter

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Waterproof: Somewhat
  • Refillable: Yes* (Bic lighters aren’t supposed to be refillable. However, some hacks allow you to refill them with Butane. It can be messy, but it works.)
  • Fuel type: Butane
  • # lights: 3,000
  • Adjustable flame: No
  • Can be used when empty: Yes

Check Prices on Amazon

BIC lighters don’t have any special survival features.

They aren’t particularly waterproof or windproof.

They won’t work with anything other than butane fuel. 

But Bic lighters have the benefit of being everywhere. You can get packs of them for very cheap. Classic size Bic lighters will give you about 3,000 lights before running out of fuel. And, considering they are so affordable, Bic lighters are reliable enough for survival use. For more, see how long do BIC lighters last?

Even if your Bic lighter runs out of fuel, you can still use it to start a fire. Just scrape some flakes off the plastic case to create tinder. Remove the spark guard and spin the spark wheel to create sparks over your tinder pile. With some practice, you can get a fire going quickly.

2. UST  Floating Lighter: Best Waterproof and Windproof Survival Lighter

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Refillable: Yes
  • Fuel type: Refined butane
  • # lights: 30,000
  • Adjustable flame: Yes
  • Can be used when empty: No

Check Prices on Amazon

The floating lighter by Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST) is often mentioned as the best survival lighter.

It consists of a lighter in a plastic housing. The housing is 100% waterproof, floats, and protects against drops. There is a lanyard loop for attaching the lighter to your gear.

I like that the internal lighter is clear. It lets you see how much fuel is left and makes refilling easier. The lighter is small, so it won’t hold much fuel.

Since this butane torch lighter makes a blue flame, it will burn through fuel quickly. Make sure you have fuel ready to refill it.

Push-button lighters (aka piezo ignition lighters) tend to be less reliable than spark wheel lighters.

However, the UST lighter is well-built and claims its ignition system will last 30,000 lights. Of course, you’ll have to refill long before then.

Unlike spark wheel lighters, you won’t be able to use a piezo ignition lighter once empty, so you’ll want a backup like a Ferro rod.

3. Peanut Lighter: Best Naphthalene Fuel (Zippo) Survival Lighter

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Refillable: Yes
  • Fuel type: Naphthalene/Zippo fuel
  • # lights: 15,000
  • Adjustable flame: No
  • Can be used when empty: Yes

Check Prices on Amazon

Zippo-type lighters use fuel that contains naphthalene. The problem with this fuel is that it evaporates quickly. This is why you can’t leave a Zippo sitting in a Bug Out Bag.

This lighter solves the problem with a leak-proof gasket that prevents fuel from evaporating.

To use the lighter, you spin the spark wheel to ignite the wick. The flame will keep burning until you blow it out. You can use Zippo brand ones if you ever need to replace the wick or flint.

Because it’s a spark wheel lighter, you could (in theory) use the lighter when empty to create sparks. In a pinch, I’ve heard about people using alternative fuels in the naphthalene lighters.

Some options are:

  • 100 proof alcohol
  • Gasoline
  • Paint thinner
  • Petrol
  • White gas

These might work but won’t burn as well or as clean as Zippo fuel. Make sure you have spare fuel.

4. Tesla Lighter: Best Plasma Survival Lighter

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Refillable: Yes
  • Fuel type: Micro-USB rechargeable
  • # lights: 300 per charge
  • Adjustable flame: No
  • Can be used when empty: No

Check Prices on Survival Frog

Plasma lighters are becoming very popular, but most aren’t good survival lighters; they are fragile and not waterproof.

However, the plasma lighter by Survival Frog is a great option. It comes in a strong plastic case that waterproofs the lighter. I wouldn’t drop it into a river, but it will be fine in heavy rains.

There are some survival features built into the lighter. It has a lanyard, which you can cut open and use the insides as tinder. There is also a whistle and a flashlight. These features are a bit kitsch, but they might also be very useful in a survival situation.

This is a particularly good lighter to have as a backup if butane or zippo fuel isn’t available. It takes about 2 hours to completely recharge the Tesla lighter with micro-USB (you could use a small solar charger), and you’ll get approximately 300 lights per charge.

For more, read our guide to the best plasma lighters.

5. Dewel Vintage Copper Lighter: Best Kerosene Lighter

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Waterproof: No
  • Refillable: Yes
  • Fuel type: Naphthalene/Zippo fuel, kerosene, denatured alcohol
  • # lights: N/G
  • Adjustable flame: No
  • Can be used when empty: No

Check Prices on Amazon

Most lighters will not work with kerosene. They simply won’t ignite the kerosene or produce a small, dirty-burning flame that easily goes out.

However, this lighter is designed differently, so it will actually work with kerosene. It also works with Zippo/naphthalene fuels (which is preferable over kerosene).

Some other fuels also work in a pinch, like denatured alcohol. This means you have more fuel options in a survival situation.

There is a rubber gasket seal around the fuel to prevent leaking. However, the fuel will still evaporate over time. You won’t want to leave this sitting around full in a bug out bag, or the fuel will be gone by the time you need it.

It works better as a backup survival lighter in case you need to use alternative fuels.

The lighter itself is well-designed. There’s a built-in windscreen that you can adjust based on your needs. The flint and wick will last a long time but can be replaced with Zippo ones.

Let us know what your favorite survival lighter is in the comments below.

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  1. The greatest lighter that I own is a :
    Beattie Jet LIGHTER !!!
    This looks like a “Steam Punk” design.
    When you lift open the cover, there is a little tube that allows gas created by LIQUID FUEL (ZIPPO-type), to release a ‘Jet’ flame when the lighters flame-tip is rotated towards it !
    Be careful, you could do more than light a pipe with this torch ! 😉


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