The Chronicle

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Arc Lighters

"Flameless lighter" may sound like a sci-fi invention, but arc lighters — such as the Tetra Round Arc Lighter — are very real, and very useful. Have you ever tried to light a rolled smoke on a windy beach? Or accidentally singed your beard when lighting a pipe? The solution to both problems is an arc lighter, which requires no fuel and has no open flame whatsoever, making it wind-friendly, beard-friendly, and travel-friendly, too.

What Is an Arc Lighter?

Instead of a flame, an arc lighter produces heat via a small arc of high-voltage electrical current that's hotter than a traditional lighter, but in a more concentrated area. You activate the purple-hued arc with the push of a button, and simply place whatever you'd like to light directly in the arc's path.

Some models have two arcs that intersect for a particularly cool effect, like the Tetra Double Arc Lighter; that lighter's protruding flame area means that you can use it to light pipes. Smaller arc lighters, such as the Tetra Ombre Arc Lighter, can be used only to light thin surfaces like rolled smokes, candles, incense — really anything that can fit in between the arc's two nodes, as long as it's not your finger!

How Do You Use an Arc Lighter?

Arc lighters are easy to use because they don't require refilling, only recharging. Unlike a wick lighter, which you have to fill with fluid, arc lighters are battery-powered and charged via USB. Each charge gives you enough power to light up anywhere from 20 to 40 times.

Are Arc Lighters Safe?

Arc lighters are a safe, nontoxic alternative to traditional lighters. You should never place your finger into the arc, but if you did, it would cause a similar burn to a flame lighter, but on a smaller area of your skin. The electric current in the arc isn't strong enough to electrocute a person, but never use them with metal pipes as that may carry a greater risk of electric shock. Also, treat them with care and try not to drop them, because a particularly high-impact tumble could damage the electronics.

Are Flameless Lighters the Same as Arc Lighters?

Every arc lighter is flameless, but not every flameless lighter is an arc lighter. For instance, the Tetra Slide Lighter is also battery-powered, but it lights rolled smokes with a heated coil instead, sort of like old-fashioned car lighters. All flameless lighters are particularly great for travel, and an arc lighter is an impressive, high-tech addition to any smoker's toolkit.