I Take This Rechargeable Fuel-free Lighter on Every Camping Trip to Make Building Fires More Eco-Friendly

Plus, it’s just $14.

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 MEIRUBY Rechargeable Lighter Electric Tout

Campers face the same paradox on every trip: You need lightweight, easy-to-use gear so you can spend your trip enjoying the outdoors rather than fumbling with complicated or heavy equipment — but most of those camper-friendly options create a lot of waste in the form of disposable items, excess packaging, or environmentally hazardous materials. 

The lighter is one of those paradoxical essentials. If you opt for disposable designs, you’re burning through fuel and sending plastic to the landfill each time you empty it. If you get a refillable lighter, you avoid the plastic waste but you’re still using hazardous lighter fluid (which is also often sold in a plastic container that will also find its way into a landfill). Matches are fully biodegradable but, being single-use, they’re still a little wasteful.

While a lot of the eco-friendly alternatives to camping gear ask you to sacrifice some convenience in exchange for being kinder to the environment you love exploring so much, the Meiruby Electric Lighter is one of those rare cases where you truly get the best of both worlds. 

 MEIRUBY Rechargeable Lighter Electric

Amazon

To buy: amazon.com, $14

The rechargeable lighter is fully reusable and doesn’t need any fuel so you won’t create any waste at the campground. But, on top of being eco-friendly, it’s also a lot more convenient and easier to use (once you get used to it). 

The lightweight lighter features a flexible neck that bends in any direction, an arc pulse ignition that gets hot enough to ignite candle wicks, paper products, and gas in seconds, and a USB charging port so you can recharge it wherever you are. 

By swapping the open flame for an electric arc ignition, the lighter is also windproof and splash-proof, since the spark can’t be blown out as easily. That means you’ll be able to get that fire lit even in those drizzly, windy conditions that come with fall camping. 

A single charge can last for about 600 uses, according to the manufacturer. While I don’t use it daily, I’ve been able to go an entire week-long camping trip of nightly fires and lighting the camping stove for breakfast every morning, and in the end the battery was still about half full. Reviewers on Amazon report a similar experience. “It fully charges within about ten minutes, and the charge lasts for days,” one reviewer wrote.

Speaking of battery life, the four LED lights on the handle are super convenient for keeping track of how much charge you have left. And the separate on/off button in addition to the ignition button is great for conserving power. With the switch, you can turn the battery completely off when not in use. 

I started using this lighter about two years ago, after I watched someone use a similar design to light their propane stove on a camping trip in California’s Mount San Jacinto. The state park had a strict no open fire policy to prevent wildfires so I only got to see it used for lighting stoves and candles (which it managed to do flawlessly). But the following year, I was able to test out its ability to start a campfire at a campground in upstate New York.

I’ll admit it takes getting used to if you usually start fires with a lighter or matches. But when you’re spending just $14 for a lighter that you can reuse over and over for years, it’s worth getting through the adjustment period. Here are a couple quirks to the fuel-free lighter that can make it hard to start a fire the first time you use it:

  1. The on/off switch turns the battery on but doesn’t ignite the tip. You need to hold the power button above the on/off switch for the duration that you’re trying to light something, similar to how you would continuously hold down the lever of a standard fuel lighter.
  2. Even while holding that power button, the spark at the end will only stay on for about 10 seconds before automatically shutting off. It’s a safety feature so you don’t accidentally slide an ignited lighter into your pocket. Just turn the on/off switch into the off position and then back into the on position again and you’re good to go for another 10 seconds.
  3. The high voltage arc is very hot but also more concentrated than the open flame of a fuel lighter. It takes a little trial and error to get used to the difference but eventually, you’ll get a technique down for lighting fires. 

In my case, I like to take a handful of kindling — like pine needles or dry leaves — and roughly shape it into a cone or tube. I stick the top end of that cone into the lighter so that part of the kindling is in between the two electrodes. Then, I hold the power button down until I see smoke or flames. Once that kindling is lit, I place it in the fire ring where I already have a pyramid of twigs and sticks set up. From there, just tend to it as usual to get the flames strong enough for a log.

 MEIRUBY Rechargeable Lighter Electric

To buy: amazon.com, $14

While I don’t have a grill or many candles, a lot of buyers get this lighter for exactly those purposes, so you’ll have plenty of uses for this even when you get back from your camping trip. “The flexible gooseneck makes any wick or fire easy to light,” one reviewer said. Even when your candle’s wick gets low and hard to reach, that long, flexible neck will make it easy to light. The length of the neck also makes it convenient for lighting a grill (or your gas stove) without needing to get your fingers close to the flame.

Likewise, for those using gas fireplaces or heaters to keep warm at home, this lighter does the trick. “[It] makes the natural gas or propane ignite instantaneously, usually within less than a quarter of a second,” one reviewer noted. “I used it every morning for two gas fireplaces most evenings or [and] outside gas heater on the back porch and it still has more than half its charge,” they added.

So if you’re trying to skip disposable lighters or matches at the campground or at home, this rechargeable electric lighter will make that eco-friendly transition a breeze. As long as you’ve got the charging cable and a portable charger or outlet to plug it into, you’ll never run out of fuel again. 

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