Matches vs. Lighters: Any Difference?

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Zamora

Can't Leave
Mar 15, 2023
403
1,182
Olympia, Washington
I've never had any luck with matches for a pipe, for cigars I have provided there wasn't any wind and it was warm out. For a pipe I just use a Bic EZ Reach, I'm perfectly satisfied with how they work so I don't have any desire to invest in a pipe lighter.
 
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warren

Lifer
Sep 13, 2013
11,984
17,250
Foothills of the Chugach Range, AK
I find my lighters interchangeable for the most part. Matches are great in the wind as they are easy to "cup." Zippos work well in all cases. Bics? Easy to cup in the wind and very dependable. My Peterson seems to mostly rest in a desk drawer but, it works well.

Those having trouble with wind should practice the "hunch." Turn your back to the wind, pull up your collar, hunch your shoulders and cup the lighter over the bowl. Eezy peezy with a bit of forethought and practice. If you can find a tree or wall to deflect the wind so much the easier. If I couldn't light my pipe, cigar or cigarette in a stiff breeze I wouldn't be smoking much as, I spend a lot of time in the countryside.
 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
18,775
12,258
Maryland
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For me, there are two variables: Temperature and taste. I like liquid fuel lighters, they're cool, have history, but the smell bothers me and can spoil the taste of the tobacco. That leaves matches and butane lighters. I find matches to be more controllable, temperature-wise, than a lighter. It's easier to consistently get a smaller, cooler flame, which I like. Keeps the combustion temps lower, and less chance of rim scorching. Lighters tend to be a little unpredictable on flame size, depending on the surrounding temperatures. Higher temps=bigger flame. That said, matches aren't very convenient or safe in the car, and are a bit of a PITA to carry around. So I mostly use a butane lighter.

Ideally, a USB-rechargeable infrared lighter would be ideal, like the old plug-in car cigarette lighters. But nobody makes that, as far as I know.

Oh, yes they do! I'll have to look into this!
Bingo - what he said! When I mastered the match, it changed my pipe experience. With a lighter, I was scorching the tobacco, ruining the taste (like charbroiling oysters, which God intended us to eat raw). I can light a match now and a bowl in a pretty good breeze. You just need to get a get a good smolder going. And, banish tongue bite. I still occasionally pack a zippo with a T-bird insert, but 95% of the time, I have wood matches. (grocery store brand, nothing exotic) Sure, you'll leave dead soldiers everywhere and your wife will say "stop flicking your matches into the mulch", but I can shoulder that load.
 

K.E. Powell

Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 20, 2022
543
1,988
37
West Virginia
A good sulphur free match is hard to beat. Lower temp, decent control, doesn't impart unsavory flavors, and cheap. They can be hassle in bad weather, but not entirely impossible. I use the Zippo for quick relights. But I always start with a match or two when I can.

It's hard for me to understand people who say that fire is fire, so there isn't much difference. Fuel source makes a big difference in grilling, so why not to tobacco?
 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
18,775
12,258
Maryland
postimg.cc
Probably because in grilling the food is exposed to the fire from the fuel for a long time whereas in a pipe its a few seconds?
and on the grill, you aren't lighting the food on fire, well, not on purpose.
I suppose you are smoldering the food with heat, similar to tobacco in a bowl.
 
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johnnyflake

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jul 29, 2023
159
297
83
Henderson, Nevada
I was never very successful with matches, and I have never tried a Zippo or any other liquid fuel type lighter. It's definitely butane lighters for me. I have an Old Boy and a few other butane soft flame lighters. A few weeks ago, some friends put me onto a great new butane soft flame lighter that sells on Amazon for $12. I cannot recall its name, as it was advertised and there is no name on it. ? Any way it's a beauty and works like a gem. Go with a butane soft flame!
 

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instymp

Lifer
Jul 30, 2012
2,432
1,055
If you let whatever you use to light up burn for a moment you won't get any after taste. Strike a match right away and tell me you don't get a "sulfur" taste.
 
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tobakenist

Lifer
Jun 16, 2011
1,657
1,533
69
Middle England
Zippo Butane, all I use now after over 50yrs of Pipes, how many Pipe Lighters have I binned,? how many times did I curse when it's pissing down and all I have is a box of matches ? I praise Zippo.
 
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Swiss Army Knife

Can't Leave
Jul 12, 2021
420
1,253
North Carolina
I've used everything from old timey naval rope lighters to butane old-boy knock offs. I've never notice enough of a difference in flavor to offset the much bigger issue of ease of use. Using beeswax hemp is a great and very controllable flame but it requires lighting it with something else. Matches can be fun but its sucks striking finicky matches over and over when the pipe goes out and it's want to do. Not to mention the mass grave of dead soldiers piling up next to you.

A nice butane pipe lighter is just easy. It works. Unless you're outside in the wind but smoking a pipe outdoors in the wind is for the birds.
 

epazikas

Might Stick Around
Mar 20, 2024
78
83
59
Mölndal, Sweden
I've used everything from old timey naval rope lighters to butane old-boy knock offs. I've never notice enough of a difference in flavor to offset the much bigger issue of ease of use. Using beeswax hemp is a great and very controllable flame but it requires lighting it with something else. Matches can be fun but its sucks striking finicky matches over and over when the pipe goes out and it's want to do. Not to mention the mass grave of dead soldiers piling up next to you.

A nice butane pipe lighter is just easy. It works. Unless you're outside in the wind but smoking a pipe outdoors in the wind is for the birds.
What is a beeswax hemp? Can you explain it?
 

jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
25,329
28,533
Carmel Valley, CA
I've used everything from old timey naval rope lighters to butane old-boy knock offs. I've never notice enough of a difference in flavor to offset the much bigger issue of ease of use. Using beeswax hemp is a great and very controllable flame but it requires lighting it with something else. Matches can be fun but its sucks striking finicky matches over and over when the pipe goes out and it's want to do. Not to mention the mass grave of dead soldiers piling up next to you.

A nice butane pipe lighter is just easy. It works. Unless you're outside in the wind but smoking a pipe outdoors in the wind is for the birds.
Then I am a bird! But: define a wind! There are zephyrs to force 9 gales.

Lighting with a BiC with a breeze of under 12-15 knots is something everyone should be able to do with a bit of practice and application. With a Zippo, over 20 kts.