This past summer my fiance and I took a road trip up to Sun Valley, Idaho, and traveled up into the mountains to Stanley and beyond to check out the scenery. It was a fun little drive, and when my fiance stopped for smokes at a local gas station and they gave him a cheap lighter for free along with his purchase, we thought, hey cool! A new lighter for lighting fires and smoking with, and while the lighter was obviously cheap (one of those see-through plastic ones that take forever to get a flame with), we figured it would come in handy for camping and other things we wouldn’t waste our good lighters with (the Bic ones).
I held the lighter in my lap for something to do on our 7 hour drive home, and when my fiance stopped for gas at another gas station a few hundred miles from home, I wanted to get out of the car and stretch my achy legs. As soon as my right foot hit the ground, I heard a loud BOOM! which made me yipe and hop back into the car and made my fiance duck as he was filling gas and start screaming obscenities. “Someone’s shooting at us!” he shouted, then he recovered and shouted, “A gas tank just blew up!”
I quickly looked at my foot, which was kind of tingling, and saw that my entire sock was wet and a piece of yellow plastic was stuck to it. I tore off my sock (suspecting blood) and smelled lighter fluid. Yup, that stupid cheap lighter fell out of my lap when I stood up and exploded right on the sidewalk. It barely fell over a foot to the ground, but I guess the fact that we were at a gas station made it explode. I told my fiance it was the lighter (he was still rambling on) and I went into the restroom and washed my foot and after picking up the broken lighter fragments we were on our way.
Does a Bic explode like the cheap lighters do? I can tell you they do not. When we got home, I took 3 Bic lighters that we had and threw them on the ground with all my might, and all they did was skip across the driveway. On the other hand, the many cheap lighters we have in collection (the local smoke shop supplies a free lighter with every carton of smokes) each exploded with glee at just being dropped on the ground, with that same sickening boom as the first. I guess the gas station had nothing to do with the cheap lighter blowing up; rather, they’re just cheap and poorly manufactured and explode at the slightest pressure.
Likewise, if you throw a Bic lighter into a fire, it will make an almost unidentifiable “pop” in the fire after about 5 minutes or so, whereas if you throw a cheap lighter into the fire, it will explode almost as soon as it hits the flames and spread sparks and debris all over. Those cheap lighters are a pain in the ass. Bic lighters are definitely much safer.
So the next time you’re at your local gas station or smoke shop and they offer you a free lighter and it’s one of those no-name plastic, see through ones that rubs your thumb raw trying to light them, pass on it. Because if you leave it in your lap and stand up and it hits the ground, it might just blow your big toe off.