Methanol Lighter 1930: a dangerous gadget

Today I'll show you one of the most unusual lighters ever get to the page of our website. Dangerous gadget: a self-igniting lighter, running on methanol, without flint and without any moving parts!

Such lighters its appearance in the 1920s of the 20th century (and are produced by several different companies, and up to 1950) are required to open the German chemist Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner, which essentially is the father and inventor of lighters as an instrument for making fire. In 1823 (wait for it - 186 years ago!) Dobereiner discovered the catalytic properties of platinum, in particular, the ability of spongy platinum or platinum black (platinum black - a fine powder of platinum compounds produced by reduction of pure platinum) Flammable hydrogen and facilitate other chemical reactions accompanied by heat and inflammation. On the basis of his discovery, he created the so-called Dobereiner lamp (or hydrogen flint), which in fact was the world's cigarette lighter, though damn uncomfortable and extremely dangerous:

This infernal machine worked like this: a bank zinc plate reacts with the sulfuric acid, resulting in a release hydrogen. When the valve is opened hydrogen rushed out, coming into contact with the platinum plate, causing an instant reaction proceeded to heat and fire. An unknown number of users of such lighters dead or mutilated during use! However, hydrogen is a flint and became the prototype for all future lighters - with him began the era of "wearable fire", which can be obtained relatively simple (albeit dangerous) way.

Methanol Lighter Ray-O-Lite works on the same principle Dobereiner. In the large compartment (where the inside is rolled wick) is filled with methanol (aka wood alcohol). Not very much, enough to soak the wick well. On the cover of the lighter in a small part of it is a small brass frame, which is stretched very thin platinum wire, and on it - a couple of balls that same platinum black:

To get the fire rather slowly submerge this frame with platinum balls in the large main compartment with a wick. Platinum react with methanol vapor, causing their heating and ignition.

Here are the instructions from the box with a description of the entire process:

You will not believe it, but this stuff really works! Unfortunately, I could not immediately find a methanol :) to conduct tests lighter (though I believe that it will work on ethanol, the main key to success - clean fuel agent). But on the Internet, I found a photo with a demonstration of a similar lighters:

See also:


  1. blinowww (30.10.2009 14:23) ( Reply )

    get! to give (or rather allowed)! This I have not seen. and how, Vladimir? veshchichki comfortable? like to the touch?

    1. kypexin (10/30/2009 twenty-nine past two p.m.) ( Reply )

      Little such height as Zipp one in one :) It feels a trifle, a trifle too :) But what is it in everyday use, hard to say, it seems to totally calm people who can light a fire with two hands at once :)

  2. blinowww (30.10.2009 14:58) ( Reply )

    And why not? than it is dangerous? could explode if the overflow?

    1. umail (12.04.2011 22:18) ( Reply )

      The danger is most probably connected with the use of methanol. As you know, methanol is highly toxic in small doses.

  3. blinowww (30.10.2009 15:00) ( Reply )

    - An unknown number of users of such lighters dead or mutilated during use! -

    1. kypexin (10/30/2009 three past three p.m.) ( Reply )

      Well he did explosive hydrogen and fuel :)

  4. botas (30.10.2009 15:40) ( Reply )

    That's yeah ... review of such lighters plague was not yet!
    Something from the boy on the box kind of smile stretched: dumb, apparently, get a light from a cigarette lighter was ;)
    And it's called - Ray-O-Lite? No stamp on the bottom of the lighter not?
    Great work, Vladimir! Thank you!

    1. kypexin (10/30/2009 5:14 p.m.) ( Reply )

      Yes, this is one of many such "anonymous" lighters - and I saw a similar Master-lite, and others too. But no punches on this lighter not.

  5. slay (30.10.2009 18:20) ( Reply )

    Thanks for the review of such a unique little things! That I just had never seen - no lighter flint kresala and other =) (well, except for the wooden version - matches) =) So do sometimes capture the imagination and ingenuity of people =)

  6. oniks1 (30.10.2009 20:02) ( Reply )

    Yes, people used to be brave ...)))) I wonder if we will live when the lighters will insert a mini nuclear reactors, and you can only get a light pulling a lighter from his pocket ...))))

  7. oniks1 (30.10.2009 20:16) ( Reply )

    ... Or not even getting out of his pocket ... she lit a cigarette from the first puff ...))))

  8. blinowww (31.10.2009 00:33) ( Reply )

    but can this get?

    1. kypexin (31/10/2009 00:37) ( Reply )

      Theoretically it is possible, why not :) If you are interested, please write to e-mail offers.

  9. Peter (24.12.2010 16:57) ( Reply )

    On ethyl alcohol, pure as possible, not with my rabotaet.Nol effekta.Ili devaysom something wrong (it is, in principle, the same, only different brand, but there is a difference: platinum black balls have not two, but one.).

    1. faust (13.04.2011 18:27) ( Reply )

      so it is necessary to use methanol ...

      1. Peter (13.04.2011 23:48) ( Reply )

        Ethanol or methanol - little difference in their structure as related alkanes, except that ethanol can be safely drink up to a certain limit, but from methanol may cause blindness :)

        1. faust (14.04.2011 02:25) ( Reply )

          platinum balls can not miss?

          1. Peter (07.05.2011 14:56) ( Reply ) (Further comments do not nest)

            Maybe. Buy another one of the same principle of operation, almost mint, check :-)

  10. Darya (14.12.2011 10:01) ( Reply )

    Good afternoon! Please tell me where to get a little thing? loved

    1. kypexin (14.12.2011 10:03) ( Reply )

      Search on Ebay unless. quite rare.

  11. Darya (14.12.2011 10:38) ( Reply )

    Thanks, I'll try, the entire Internet ransacked in search of the thing-))

  12. Basil (01/11/2012 00:57) ( Reply )

    About a year ago, traders in the train selling something.

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