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How to Make a Fuel-Free Reusable Lighter Using a Floor Mop (With Pictures)


This lighter has been a lifesaver, in more ways than one. One for smoking purposes which I doubt counts as a 'lifesaver'!


While incarcerated (a long story) for a short time, I soon learned the art of many things. I learnt how to split one matchstick into four, and how to light a cigarette without a match, butane gas, or petrol lighter, mainly because prisoners were not allowed fuel.

I also learned how to make a home (prison) made lighter, known as a sailor's, soldier, trench, or shepherd's lighter. And, with so much time on their hands, it was common soldiers, and prisoners of war to make 'trench art' from spent bullets, artillery shells and other items of modern warfare. Including lighters.

Soldiers in the trenches during the war..

Soldiers in the trenches during the war..

This type of lighter is fuel-free. It will work in the windiest of weathers, not that prisoners are allowed to venture out that much. And, It will last a lifetime, which was handy for those prisoners who were serving life!

Now I'm a free man (woo-hoo), I still use this lighter on very windy days, or when my regular lighter is out of fuel. Even strangers admire it when I offer to light their smoke, when I see them having difficulty lighting their smokes in windy weather.

This is a must-have, not just for people in windy places. It's perfect for camping — as a survival tool — or as a back-up when you run out of butane or petrol for your usual lighter. As long as you have enough wick (mop strands) and flints, you'll never run out of fuel. And, 'wick' and 'flint', which are all you need, are much safer than fuel. No need to ever buy petrol or butane canisters again.


A. Three strands of a mop head. How do I know if I have the right mop head material? Set the tip on fire, then immediately blow it out. If it extinguishes immediately and starts to melt, it's no good. If it continues to burn like embers of a coal or wood fire, regardless of how hard you try to blow it out, then it's perfect. (as shown in the thumbnail image above)

  • a. What else can I use instead of a floor mop? As long as they 'burn' correctly, you can use rope ot string (depending on their material). If the 'rope' is too thick, pull the strands apart until the size/strands are suitable: If the 'string' is too thin, Plait as many lengths of string together until they're wide enough to use. I.e, be able to easily fit inside the barrel and slide up and down, but not too easily.

B. You need a 'Clipper flint with its barrel'.

  • b. Other brands of lighter are available.

C. A thin metal or hard/thick plastic or metallic tube and large enough to fit the Clipper lighter flint barrel inside.

  • c. What else can I use instead of metal or plastic tubes? Make your own case/lighter by using a small piece of wood (or metal) then cut into a small block (as seen in image above). Make two holes and add your design, and you're good to go.

Five simple steps below to make this lighter

1. Plait the three mop strands together


1. Tie the three strands to together in a knot at the end, then plait (similar to plaiting/braiding hair). If you don't have anyone to hold the end for you, use a heavy weight (as shown above) or place the knot end inside a heavy drawer to hold in place while you plait.


Ensure to plait as tight as possible to ensure it lasts as long as possible. Then tie a knot at the bottom. (as shown below)

2. Making the lighter holder


2. Make your lighter holder by cutting your desired tube into two pieces. Ensure each piece is 2 inches (5.08 cm) long. Too short and the Clipper barrel won't fit. If it's too long, when the wick is running low, too much of the wick will be stuck inside the (too long) tube.

3. Stick the two tubes together using either glue, sticky tape and/or cotton. Whatever you like, as long as they are firmly stuck together. If the clipper barrel is too large for the tube, wrap some tape around it to make it fit firmly in place.

4. Priming the wick


4. The only way the lighter (wick) will work is by priming the wick first, by setting fire to the end. Then blow out the flame and suffocate the smoking end inside the tube. This will extinguish the burning wick. Note: The 'blackened' burned stuff is what is needed to help light your new lighter when struck with the flint. The more black stuff that is on the end, the easier it will be to light.

5. How to light it


5. When striking the flint, use your finger or thumb (depending on how you hold the lighter) to gently push the blacked end as close to the flint as possible while blowing on it. Blowing helps ignite the wick/mop.

Once alight, it will not go out unless you pull it back down inside the tube to suffocate it. To ensure the burning end does not accidentally slip out of the tube while inside your pocket and continue to smoke (burn), use an elastic band to hold in place.

Congratulations! You now have the know-how to make a 100% fuel-free, windproof, flameless, reliable lighter.

More by this author.

Ultimate Lighter Reviews: Pros, Cons, Tips and Tricks: Your one-stop lighter review shop—review from decades of testing, experience, and experimentation.

© 2020 Tony Sky

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