The Chronicle

Tetra Tutorial: How to Maintain Your Tsubota Pearl Lighter

If your Tsubota Pearl lighter stops working, the most important thing to remember is that these lighters are small but precisely engineered machines — and they're usually very easy to fix, if you know what to look for. Plus, all wick lighters require maintenance from time to time, from a simple fluid refill to replacing a flint that's ground down over time. These small updates will keep your lighter running smoothly for years to come. We've put together a simple maintenance and troubleshooting guide for you here.

First things first though, if you've just received a brand new Tsubota Pearl lighter, don't forget to fill it with fluid! These lighters ship fluid-free, so head to your local smoke shop and pick up some Zippo or Zippo-style lighter fluid (NOT butane). If you need some pointers on how to fill a wick lighter, check out our other tutorial here, which includes a link to a video for beginners. When it comes to the fluid levels in your lighter, it's important to know that fluid can run out or dry out in as little as a week, depending on how much you use your lighter — and especially if you don't fill it enough.

In general, you can always check what might be wrong with your lighter with a simple two-part test:

  • Does the lighter spark when you turn the wheel? If so, it's likely a fuel problem. If not, it’s likely a flint problem.
  • Are you able to light the wick of this lighter directly using a different lighter? If not, it’s a fuel problem.

Now, on to our guide, below!

How to maintain a Tsubota Pearl Hard Edge lighter 

    THE FLUID 

    As we mentioned above, we have a full tutorial here for how to fill or refill your lighter with fluid, including a link to a video.

    For troubleshooting, though, note that it takes some time to fill your lighter properly. You need to add a small amount of fluid to the cotton inside until just before it overflows, then wait a few moments for it to soak in. Then you need to repeat this (even up to 4 times) until the cotton looks grey-ish and stops taking any additional fluid in. At that point it should be ready to go.

    THE WICK

    Make sure that the wick is always protruding slightly above the top of the wind guard, as pictured above. If the wick is below the guard, use a pair of pliers to grasp the wick and pull gently and slowly until the desired length is obtained. If the top of the wick is blackened and frayed, you can trim it with scissors so the top of the wick is clean and bright again for use.

    Don't pull the wick too hard, or it could come out entirely — if it does, you can use a thin piece of wire to pull it back down through the lighter. If the wick for your Hard Edge runs out, you need to replace it. Here's a tutorial for how to do that.

    THE FLINT

    Flints are quite small, and although they are good for up to around 800-1200 sparks, they do wear out the more your lighter wheel is flicked. For a lighter to work properly, the flint needs to be long enough to be in direct contact with the wheel. If the flint is too short, and your lighter stops sparking, it's time to replace it. Here is a video tutorial for exactly how to replace the flint. If the flint appears to be long enough but still isn't working, try using the instructions in the video to take it out and put it back in again, but upside down.

    When you're replacing the flint for the first time, there's a spare flint in the flint-pocket on the bottom of your Tsubota Pearl lighter. After this is used up, you can always replace your flint with a pack of Zippo flints purchased at any smoke shop.

    After replacing your flint, make sure to tighten the screw on the bottom of the lighter enough that it does not feel loose. If your new flint is so stiff that it causes your lighter wheel to stop turning, press the wheel down on a slightly soft surface like a cutting mat or stack of newspapers, then push the lighter forward. This will help break the flint in.  

    THE WHEEL

    Make sure your lighter wheel is free of debris. You can always use an old toothbrush to clean it.

    How to maintain a Tsubota Pearl Queue Stick or Sigaretta lighter

    THE ALIGNMENT

    Maintaining your Queue Stick or Sigaretta lighter is quite similar to maintaining your Hard Edge lighter, except for one key difference: They require proper alignment to function. That entails two special considerations.

    • First, these lighters have a red dot on their wheel unit, to help you ensure that the inner casing is always properly positioned. If you're having problems with these lighters, the first thing to check is that the red dot on the wheel unit is facing the correct direction (as seen above). The dot cannot face the flint, it has to face away from it for the wheel to spark. Whenever you take the inner casing out of the lighter and then put it back in, you need to check that the dot is facing the right way.
    • Second, if you do remove the inner casing, always pull the wheel unit straight out. NEVER twist or turn it as you're pulling it. That's because if you twist it, the flint cap (see diagram above) could get stuck inside the lighter body. If this happens, try putting only the top of the wheel unit back into the body (without the flint or spring) until it hits the cap, then turning it clockwise to screw onto and catch the cap, so you can pull it back out. 

    THE FLUID

    Refilling the fluid levels of Queue Stick and Sigaretta lighters is similar to Hard Edge lighters. Both lighters are covered in our in-depth tutorial (and video) posted here.

    For troubleshooting, though, note that it takes some time to fill your lighter properly. You need to add a small amount of fluid to the cotton inside until just before it overflows, then wait a few moments for it to soak in. Then you need to repeat this (even up to 4 times) until the cotton looks grey-ish and stops taking any additional fluid in. At that point it should be ready to go.

    THE WICK

    For Queue Stick and Sigaretta lighters, you need to maintain a wick length of just over 3mm. You can get a more visual sense of how tall your wick should be in order to light properly by using the image above as a guide.

    If the wick is too short, use a pair of pliers to grasp the wick and pull gently and slowly until the desired length is obtained. If the top of the wick is blackened and frayed, you can trim it with scissors so the top of the wick is clean and bright again for use.

    Don't pull the wick too hard, or it could come out entirely — if it does, you can use a thin piece of wire to pull it back down through the lighter. If the wick for your Queue Stick or Sigaretta runs out, you need to replace it. Here's a tutorial for how to do that. There's also a video tutorial posted here.

    THE FLINT

    Similar to the Hard Edge instructions above, if your Queue Stick or Sigaretta stops sparking, you need to either reposition or replace your flint. A good rule of thumb is to change the flint as soon as it is about 1/3 of its original size. Otherwise, the spring in the Queue or Sigaretta's flint assembly will lack enough power to push it up against the wheel, resulting in the wick not lighting. 

    Here is a video tutorial for exactly how to replace the flint in these two lighter styles. 

    As noted above, after replacing your flint, make sure to tighten the screw on the bottom of the lighter enough that it does not feel loose. If your new flint is so stiff that it causes your lighter wheel to stop turning, press the wheel down on a slightly soft surface like a cutting mat or stack of newspapers, then push the lighter forward. This will help break the flint in.  

    THE WHEEL

    Make sure your lighter wheel is free of debris. You can always use an old toothbrush to clean it.