How To Change The Wick In A Petrol Lighter

I get questions on a daily basis asking for instructions on how to properly replace the wick in a particular, specific petrol lighter. While I have published a great number of instructional repair videos to our YouTube channel where I demonstrate this project on a specific lighter, I haven’t had time yet to get to them all. There are simple principles that can be followed, however, which will lead you step by step through the intuitive process and teach you how to change the wick in a petrol lighter.

Pull Wadding Out Of The Big Hole

Removing the old wick and absorbent wadding are going to be your first step regardless of any unique nuances inherent in the specific lighter you are working on. Your focus at this point should be the removal of both wick and wadding from the tank and the basic principles will not change regardless of the shape, layout or appearance of your lighter.

Inferences can be made to follow along with a video demonstrating this process on a different looking lighter by understanding that every petrol lighter has a wick, a chimney the wick is installed in and some form of opening(typically at the bottom) to fill the lighter tank with fuel. For instance, the fuel hole in the bottom of a Ronson Standard may look very different from the bottom of a Zippo insert but they are functionally the same.

It may be quite simple to pull the rayon wadding out the bottom of a Zippo insert and much more difficult to coax the wadding out of the fuel hole of a Ronson but they are the same function in regard to the overall project of replacing the wick and wadding and the path to remove these material expendables is always going to be out the same opening they are fueled through.

Picks, needle-nose pliers, tweezers or other custom made utensils will most likely be needed to work all the wadding up to and out of the fuel hole in any closed tank lighter. This may be much more difficult to accomplish on a closed tank petrol lighter like most Ronsons, Evans, etc. than it is on an open bottomed Zippo insert but the principle is consistent: all the wadding must come out through the fuel opening.

Feed Wick Down The Chimney And Fish It Out That Same Big Hole In The Bottom

When it comes to installing a new wick in any petrol lighter, again the insert style, Zippo type lighters are much more open and conducive to easy wick replacement than closed tank examples. The principle is consistent however, as the wick must be placed in the chimney of each, regardless of their differing appearances.

The copper braided, Zippo type wicks can be stabbed into a Zippo or other insert style lighter with relative ease from either the top or the bottom by simply twisting the braided wick down tight and possibly cutting the inserted end into a tapered shape that will slide in more smoothly. It doesn’t require much effort to find the bottom end of the wick in the open bottomed mechanism insert style lighters.

I typically use an Imco wire lead wick or an old stock Ronson wick with a wire lassoed around the end of it to feed down the chimney of most closed tank petrol lighters. Either of these methods will work with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the impediments present in a given lighter tank.

The wick will usually enter the chimney of a closed tank lighter more easily than you will be able to fish the wire out of the fuel hole. The hole is a relatively small opening through which to locate and grasp the terminal end of the wick and picks, tweezers and needle-nose pliers will again come in handy here but some experimentation and wit may be necessary to coax the wick out through the small hole in the tank.

Repack The Lighter With Wadding Through The Same Big Hole

Once you have the new wick in place in the chimney then it is time to pack your lighter with new wadding. This is going to be accomplished by feeding the wadding back through the same fuel hole that you removed the old wadding through while taking care to intersperse the wick in with the wadding as evenly as possible from top to bottom and in a zigzag or “S” shaped pattern.

Again, this will be pretty simple in the insert style, Zippo type lighters but a little more difficult and involved in the closed tank variety. The key is to reinstall ample wadding material to hold the liquid fuel without packing the tank too tight to allow for sufficient fueling.

Any absorbent material can be used for wadding and I have often used common household cotton balls(and still do for the insert style lighters) but currently rely on the organic cotton coil which can be purchased from Amazon which can be worked into more slender, longer strands that will slide into the small fuel opening of a closed tank lighter more easily and hopefully come out still intact should you ever need to remove it again.

Trim Wick And Fuel Lighter

With the new wick in place and wadding packed densely in the tank, interspersed with it, you are now ready to trim your wick to the proper height inside the ignition area and fuel the lighter up for use. The length to which the wick is trimmed will in large part be determined by the space allowed by the snuffer but there may be some leeway at the discretion of the operator.

Once cut to the desired length just under the threshold of the windscreen, I like to “bloom out” the top of my wick by taking a screwdriver, knife or other implement and spreading out the individual fibers at the top of the wick into a wider profile by which to catch and ignite the showering sparks. I have always found a tightly wound wick to be more prone to vapor lock than one that had been puffed up a bit.

To fuel a petrol lighter to the proper level, the wadding should hold the fuel inside the tank when held upside down even without the fuel screw being replaced. In other words, a properly fueled petrol lighter will not just leak or drip fuel indiscriminately. If fuel leaks or drips out the bottom or the chimney area with or without being lit, that lighter is definitely overfilled with fuel.

Enjoy Your Freshly Wicked And Wadded Petrol Lighter

Now that you have your freshly wadded and wicked lighter fueled to the proper level it should light up with no problem assuming that the sparking mechanism is in proper order and is not hindered by any old, degraded flint. If the lighter has insufficient or no spark then there may still be some maintenance required to get it working properly but we have published several articles here at and videos on our YouTube channel to help you clear the tube of old flint and repair your sparking mechanism if that is required.

I would invite you to show off your freshly lighting vintage petrol lighter by posting video or pictures to the Facebook page or group so that other cigarette lighter enthusiasts like yourself can admire it along with you. I for one would be glad to see it and would also encourage as many lighter lovers as possible to create and post videos to YouTube as we can never get enough vintage petrol lighter content for the cigarette lighter hobby to enjoy.

Please leave any comments or questions at the bottom of this or any other article at and be sure to look for our weekly YouTube live stream Vintage Coffee And Lighters Live! where we discuss various aspects of using and collecting vintage petrol lighters.

Until next time…✌️

Author: Joseph

Be cautious when anyone tells you what you need or have to do...

12 thoughts on “How To Change The Wick In A Petrol Lighter”

  1. Your article and website were a delight to read and explore. Frankly, I had never considered fixing an old cigarette lighter, but your clear and skillful videos proved me wrong. Despite my lack of mechanical expertise, I found your article fascinating and now possess a valuable new skill – one that will undoubtedly come in handy, even if I don’t smoke. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and making it accessible to readers like me.

    1. You bet Mollie, I am glad to be of help and happy that you enjoyed the article. I would say that most people these days have never thought of repairing most consumer products that happen to break and are more likely prone to just throw them in the garbage and accept their loss as a consequence of their use. These little fire making machines are pretty simple to repair though so hopefully more people will become aware of their ability to be used and the preference for them over disposable lighters.

  2. Thank you for this informative article on changing the wick in a petrol lighter! I recently had the opportunity to restore a vintage petrol lighter that had been passed down to me, and changing the wick was a crucial part of the process.

    Following your step-by-step instructions and accompanying visuals made the task much easier for me. It gave me the confidence to carefully disassemble the lighter and replace the worn-out wick with a fresh one.

    I must admit, I was initially hesitant about tinkering with such a delicate item, but your clear guidance and tips reassured me throughout the process. It’s incredible how a simple wick replacement can breathe new life into a beloved lighter and restore its functionality.

    The satisfaction I felt when I successfully changed the wick and witnessed the lighter’s flame spring back to life was truly rewarding. It’s a testament to the craftsmanship of these lighters and the importance of proper maintenance.

    Your article not only provided practical instructions but also emphasized the significance of using quality wicks and the potential hazards of using worn-out or low-quality replacements. This attention to detail and safety considerations are greatly appreciated.

    I want to express my gratitude for sharing your expertise and empowering readers like me to take care of our cherished petrol lighters. It’s through resources like yours that we can preserve these pieces of history and continue to enjoy their functionality.

    I’m curious to hear about other readers’ experiences with changing wicks or any additional tips they might have. Together, we can continue to learn and appreciate the art of maintaining these remarkable pieces of nostalgia. Thank you once again for this valuable guide!

    1. Thank you Dawayne, I am thrilled that the instructional article was so helpful to you in getting your vintage petrol lighter rewicked and back up and running in good order. I too would like to hear from others who have completed a rewicking project on a petrol lighter because we can all learn from each other’s experience just as I am sharing my own experience in the forum of this article. I appreciate all your kind words and hope you will continue to frequent the site and check out our newest published petrol lighter content.

  3. Knowing so much about such a thing must be very interesting, especially when you get to help others with it. Not that petrol lighters aren’t popular but it’s just that many people would just buy a new one every time one is empty or giving problems. Your articles are actually helping people save money. It was a great read and I will surely remember to share this with my petrol lighter-using friends. 

    1. Thank you Brian, I really appreciate you sharing the article with your friends and taking the time to leave such a kind comment. It is interesting how immersing one’s self into a particular field of interest can quickly give you an education that soon enough qualifies as an expert in the field. When I first started in the field of vintage petrol lighters, there was not a ton of information available to help folks repair their own. My aim is to change that for anyone who comes looking for helpful info after me.

  4. I appreciate that you took the time to explain the general principles behind changing the wick, regardless of the specific lighter model. It’s great to know that there are consistent steps to follow, even if the lighters may look different on the outside.

    Your tips on using picks, pliers, or tweezers to remove the old wadding and wick were super helpful. I can imagine that closed tank lighters might require some extra patience and ingenuity, but your suggestions give me the confidence to tackle the task.

    1. I am glad to be of help Anoth and also appreciate you taking the time to read the article. It is kind of frustrating some times when someone asks me to demonstrate how to perform a certain task on a particular lighter and I don’t have that exact lighter in my possession to demonstrate on. But by following the principles laid out in this article I think most folks should be able to discern what is what and where it’s located in order to take clues from watching the same procedure done on a different looking but functionally same lighter. Please ask any questions you may run into my friend.

  5. Hello, Dependable Flame! I just finished reading your article How To Change The Wick In A Petrol Lighter. And I really enjoyed reading this article! Your expertise in changing the wick of petrol lighters has given me a lot of helpful tips and tricks to change the wicks of my own petrol lighters. 

    I often always wondered why I disliked using refillable petrol lighters but, I know now from reading your article it is because they always leaked in my pocket. And that’s what led me to eventually switch back to disposable Bic lighters. But, this issue was probably because I wasn’t doing the recommended maintenance I should have been doing with my petrol lighters. 

    Your step-by-step easy-to-follow instructions have been quite helpful, and straightforward for me to follow when changing the wicks of my petrol lighters. And I truly appreciate your eye for detail in the maintenance of petrol lighters. This has been a very helpful article for me! And I will make sure to pass it along to my friends who are petrol lighter collectors and enthusiasts.

    And those who may also be wondering how the heck to change the wick in their petrol lighters. 

    Thank-You for such a well-researched and easy guide to changing the wick in the petrol lighter. This was a fantastic article and quite interesting to read as well! 

    Can’t wait to read what you write next! 🙂 


    1. Thank you Cal! I am glad that you found the article helpful and perhaps that you may have even been turned back to the use of refillable petrol lighters(which do often leak or evaporate, btw) through this article. Rewicking most lighters is not all that difficult a task once all the variables that can come into play are accounted for and the person doing the job has oriented themselves to where everything is located on the specific lighter in question.

  6. I wish that this article had been around when I used to smoke!  I would get so frustrated when I changed my wick and flint and still had no luck with the wick catching and keeping the flame going.  I didn’t know then, but can see now how the wick was probably vapor locked because I didn’t flare out the end of the wick.

    Your articles are always very well-written and chock full of information.  The included videos really streamline the entire process as you walk through it step by step.  Thank you so much for including those!

    When it comes to older lighters and restoring them, have you ever had any that needed extensive repair?  Perhaps the lid hinge broke and it needs to be fixed, or the metal emblem fell off and it needed to be welded back on?  I would love to see some restoration videos or pics with a step-by-step description of what the lighter needed and how you approached the repair.  I can see the restoration having to be broken down into a couple of segments if needed, but I would definitely have to read and/or watch the videos!!

    Thank you so much for more wonderful content!

    All the best,


    1. Thank you Sherry, I really appreciate all the kind words. Your sentiment of wishing this article had been around when you were smoking and needing to maintain your lighter is exactly why I hope to demonstrate how folks can perform these various maintenance and repair projects on their own lighters because when I first started out in the hobby of vintage petrol lighters there was definitely a dearth of this kind of helpful information out there for public consumption. I hope to demonstrate all major lighter projects on the website and YouTube channel eventually.

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