ENDURING QUALITY AND APPEAL: ZIPPO LIGHTERS & HAND WARMERS
It was a cold and windy day in Bradford, Pennsylvania, in 1932. After a day’s work, George Blaisdell came out on to his porch to have a smoko. Lighting a match in that weather was the last thing he wished for, but the soothe of the nicotine was worth the struggle. Finally easing into his chair, he puffed on his cigarette and watched the people walk by.
A couple of puffs later, his eyes fell on this one gentleman. He was having a smoke as well, but what was uncommon about him was the way he lit that cigarette of his. With all that wind, he was not struggling at all.
Blaisdell was obviously intrigued by this, so he approached this man. On inquiry, the man told him that the contraption he used to light the cigarette was from Austria and had a top that protected the flame. To Blaisdell this was weird and cumbersome, but it did work. And it made him think. And that thought process gave birth the following year to the brand we’re all familiar with. And now it’s available in Nepal, brought in by Zippo Nepal.
Now, we do wish there was a cool story behind the name, but it is what it is; Blaisdell just thought the word ‘zipper’ was cool, and ‘zippo’ sounded like a modern version of that. Underwhelming, right? But this name is undeniably commanding of respect and admiration. Even if you don’t smoke, you are most likely to find the lighters cool. And that’s why you should have one.
Zippos are known for two things. The first is it’s built. The case is made out of brass, a metal that’s notoriously used for fighting knuckles due its rigidity and durability. Then, it is coated with chrome for that signature finish. Sure, there’s a myriad of designs one can go for, be it stock or customized, but this is the basics. All of those designs start here.
The top and the bottom are welded to a hinge, and this very hinge is what made Zippo cutting edge for its time. See, those Austrian lighters just had a lid. You had to use both hands to operate the lighter. With the addition of the hinge however, you can operate it with just one, and thus open a whole new door into the world of Zippo Tricks.
Looking inside the case, this is where the actual magic happens. The insert contains the iconic holed chimney, the flint wheel, flint, and the spring toggle that keeps the lid closed. The bottom part of the insert is hollow, where five rayon balls are stuffed. These balls soak in the lighter fluid. A wick runs through these balls and pops up in the chimney, and gets fueled by the balls. To close it off from the bottom, a felt piece is used. The piece says ‘lift to fill’, so that you know what to do.
A brass screw holds that felt down. But upon unscrewing it, you gain access to a tube that leads up to the flint. A spring mechanism holds the flint up to the flint wheel to make the spark, and thus, fire. All of these parts are replaceable.The second thing that identifies Zippo is the windproofness that’s possible due to the chimney. The holes on the chimney of the lighter allow air to come in so that the fire can kindle and stay lit, but not too much so that it doesn’t get blown out. Now, in our testing, the flame did withstand most of the gales that it faced. It didn’t stand all, perhaps 7 out of 10 for working, but that’s a far better performance than a regular disposable lighter.
And talking about the flame itself, it’s a big one. You can’t adjust it like the others, but who even needs a small one? However though, you can’t light a scented candle because the lid gets in the ways. Then again, you can’t either with a regular one once the candle’s deep enough.This design of Zippos is dominantly unchanged from the original because if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Further solidifying this, they provide you with a lifetime warranty, not your’s, the lighter’s. Which basically means forever given the build quality.
THE HAND WARMER
Arguably, the iconic lighter is the only thing Zippo is known for. The fluids, flints, they’re just accessories. But did you know they also make sunglasses, axes, and of all things, hand warmers? These are, what we like to think, quite underrated. So, Zippo Nepal also sent us the hand warmer as well during these few remaining, and annoying, cold days to make it a bit more bearable.
This product too follows the same language of being sturdy with the brass and chrome body. It looks brutalist in design; simple, sufficient, and functional. The bottom half is dons the Zippo logo that looks tasteful, while the upper half, which is the lid, is occupied with the signature holes. With the lid off, the device looks like a mini taser.
Now, the anatomy of the bottom half is such that the entire body of it acts as a fuel tank. With the taser-like part off, you will see a hole. This is where you pour in the lighter fluid, which can be conveniently done with the provided gas-tank-like funnel.
Once you’ve put in the fuel, you put the top back on and tease it with a flame source, like the Zippo lighter, for around 10 seconds. See, that top is actually the burner and is stuffed with platinum-catalyzed glass fiber, so it takes in the fuel and generates warmth. However, when you do tease it with the flame, make sure that you don’t actually light it. It’s not like it’s going to explode or anything, but it’s simply not meant to be ignited.
When you’ve teased it, put the lid back on. Now, the holes that are present on the lid act as an air flow mechanism. It makes sure that the burner has enough oxygen to stay lit and doesn’t overheat. And the heat it generates is a comfortable 50 degrees celsius and lasts a little over 6 hours from out testing. Put it in the fleece pouch it comes with and you have a solid product that will keep your hands warm and toasty.
But the question remains: why on earth would you need this? Especially when so many options are abundant in the market that is electric, rechargable, and economical? Here’s why: those very options last no more than 5 hours max. They take 3.5 hours to charge, which is close to forever. And being batteries, they do not stand the test of time. The Zippo Hand Warmer on the other hand is sturdy, insures those 6 hours, and keeps insuring it as long as you fuel it. The burner too is good for 70 uses.
That’s 420 hours right there. When it’s expectancy is met, just swap it out.
Zippo does not have the reputation for nothing. They have it because they’ve earned it. And they’ve earned it by making products that are of heirloom quality. It is surely not a product that you need, but when that unmistakable clink sound resonantes into your ear, you do want it. And when you’ve decided that you want one, we hope this review made you run over to the Zippo store, and purchase it smartly.
6 HOUR HAND WARMER
ZIPPO LIGHTER: Nrs. 2665/-
ZIPPO HAND WARMER: Nrs. 2259/-
Available at ZIPPO NEPAL
(close to the Benelli Service Center)
See more of their products in their
Instagram page, @zippoinnepal
REVIEWED BY Nirveek PPJ Shah.
PHOTOS BY TNM Team