Which Brand Of Fuel Should I Use In My Vintage Petrol Lighter, Zippo or Ronsonol?

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If there’s one thing that every vintage petrol lighter enthusiast needs it’s an ample supply of petrol lighter fluid to keep their lighters fueled and running properly. With misinformation and strong opinions on both sides of the debate one might ask, “which brand of fuel should I use in my vintage petrol lighter, Zippo or Ronsonol?” In this article, we will endeavor to explain any differences we have perceived and give the reader a solid grasp of which brand of fuel is best for petrol lighters to function most efficiently.

Is There A Difference?

First off, there are other brands and options out there to use for petrol fuel, I’ve just never used them. I have conversed through email and in the comments section of YouTube videos with folks who inquire about a specific brand that may be available in stores in their country or can be shipped from Amazon to their address but I am simply ignorant of these in regard to the personal experience of filling a lighter with them.

I recall our friend Zippo Fanatic 77 doing a YouTube video a while back on an off-brand of petrol fluid which was packaged very much to look like the familiar yellow bottle that Ronson uses. I don’t remember the exact title of the video but it was something to the effect of “Don’t Buy This Crap!”

As I write this article, a check of Ebay found at least two other brands of petrol lighter fluid currently for sale, while on Amazon I only found Zippo and Ronsonol brands. While some of these other available brands may be perfectly suitable for use, Zippo and Ronsonol are the only options I have found available to me locally and most affordably on Amazon and thus what I have always used.

Today’s article will focus exclusively on petrol lighter fluid and not compressed butane gas which fuels most modern lighters. In my mind, petrol and butane fueled lighters are incompatible categories and two completely different animals that should always be kept separate!

Zippo Lighter Fuel

Considering that the first petrol lighter I ever owned was a Zippo and that every Zippo insert is stamped on one side “FOR BEST RESULTS USE ZIPPO FLINTS AND FLUID” and that the Zippo instructional paperwork for fueling the lighter states to “Fill only with Zippo fluid” it should be no surprise that Zippo Lighter Fluid has always been my go-to brand for petrol lighter fuel. I purchased a twelve ounce can with the first Zippo I ever bought and have purchased innumerable containers since.

I can’t recall ever having a single complaint or problem with the performance of Zippo Lighter Fuel other than those that are apparent and common to every petrol lighter user at some point, like the bane of evaporation or burning of the skin that results from leaking fuel. Regardless of the specific brand being used, evaporation will always be an issue(even if it’s not enough of one to worry about!) and over-filling your petrol lighter will always irritate the skin.

The price of Zippo Lighter Fuel has been somewhat unstable over the course of the last seven yrs but is still affordable enough to result in most users saving money over plastic, disposable alternatives to petrol fueled lighters. The pandemic and its disruption of the supply chain has likely played a role in the roller-coaster ride prices have taken the last few yrs so perhaps it is now evening out.

The price of Zippo Lighter Fuel has been an issue for me at times though even if its performance was flawless. This led me to experiment with Ronsonol, at first out of need but of late freely and to discover another go-to petrol lighter fluid brand.

Ronsonol Lighter Fuel

For a time, I believed Ronsonol Lighter Fuel to be more volatile than Zippo Lighter Fuel. Now, I think the reason I thought that was because of the lighters I was using it in at the time and their being prone to vapor lock which can certainly make a lighter act wonky. The Beattie Jet Lighter is a prime example of a lighter that needs to allow the fuel to settle and any excess to evaporate away completely before expecting it to ignite reliably.

Zippo Fanatic 77 has also done a video or two where he explains the reasons that he believes the Ronsonol to be a different and inferior product to the Zippo Lighter Fuel. The Zippo Manufacturing Company, however currently owns the name and production of both lighter fuel products and claims that they are identical and produced in the same facility(perhaps they even come from the same tank.)

I have used the Ronsonol Lighter Fluid in a vast enough array of lighters for a long enough period of time and I believe with a more solid understanding of how petrol lighters function that I now consider the Ronsonol to be an equal product to Zippo Lighter Fuel.

I have used both brands interchangeably since at least the fall of 2020 and have observed no perceivable difference in their performance or function with the hundreds of lighters I have fueled up and used during that time. My current standing policy is to buy which ever is more affordable at the time I’m making the purchase because I believe they work exactly the same and both work flawlessly!

Can I Use Kerosene Or White Gas?

I get questions often about the viability of other fuels that may or may not work in your typical petrol lighter, fuels like kerosene, denatured alcohol, gasoline and Coleman Fuel which some people refer to as ‘white gas’. While I would like to run some experiments with some of these alternative fuels I never have for multiple reasons.

I have encountered several lighters over the yrs that had previously been fueled with kerosene which completely gunked up the inner workings of the lighter. I was never keen enough to try the other fuels that I was willing to foul up and possibly completely ruin the expendable materials of the lighter being experimented with.

I’ve also never had any problem locating either Zippo or Ronsonol Lighter Fuel via either Amazon or one of the local grocery, department or hardware stores like Walmart, Ace or Target.

Petrol lighter fluid is also suitable and good to keep around for other purposes such as a solvent or cleaner for vintage petrol lighters that are covered with dust or other grime. Petrol fluid is also great as a spot remover for laundry and other cloth products and used to be marketed for these purposes.

To Each Their Own

I have no problem using Ronsonol Lighter Fuel in any petrol lighter that I would have typically fueled with Zippo Lighter Fuel. I believe these products to be identical and provide the same results and performance. I wholeheartedly use and recommend both products interchangeably for use in fueling any petrol lighter.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experience with these products in the comment section below the article and welcome your questions as well.

Please check out our YouTube channel and consider attending our weekly YouTube live stream Vintage Coffee And Lighters Live! where we discuss everything concerning old petrol lighters over a cup of coffee and enjoy the camaraderie the vintage cigarette lighter hobby offers.

Until next time…✌️

Author: Joseph

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

14 thoughts on “Which Brand Of Fuel Should I Use In My Vintage Petrol Lighter, Zippo or Ronsonol?”

  1. Very informative post Joseph. I believe for those who are passionate about vintage petrol lighters, keeping them properly fueled is crucial to their proper functioning. It is essential to have an ample supply of high-quality lighter fluid to ensure that your lighter works efficiently and effortlessly. Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional collector, obtaining the right lighter fluid that meets your needs is vital. With the right type of fuel, you can extend the lifespan of your lighter, retain its functionality, and enhance its style and design appeal. This description aims to guide you in understanding the features, benefits, and options for selecting the best lighter fluid for your particular needs.

    1. Thank you Herman and I appreciate you stopping by again to read this review on the debate between Zippo or Ronsonol petrol fluid and also for leaving such a nice comment. Putting the wrong fuel in a petrol lighter certainly could shorten it’s lifespan considerably or at least require a thorough cleaning the likes of which are not usually needed during the course of normal usage of a lighter. It had gotten a little difficult to find there for a while, at least in certain quantities.

  2. Great article! The comparison between Zippo and Ronsonol fuel for vintage petrol lighters is fascinating. Factors like fuel composition, availability, safety, maintenance, and environmental impact are worth considering. It would be interesting to hear from readers about their experiences and preferences regarding these fuels, including any alternative options and eco-friendly practices. Looking forward to the discussion!

    1. Hey Dawayne, thank you for checking out another article and leaving such a detailed comment. I hear what you are saying and it would be interesting to know how different alternative fuels like “white gas” or denatured spirits or even pure old naphtha would function compared to the fuels that petrol lighters were intended to run off of. There thing about the Zippo and Ronsonol Lighter fuels is I believe that they are identical formulations just being sold under two different names by the Zippo company.

  3. What an interesting article on choosing the right fuel for vintage petrol lighters! I must admit, I’ve always been curious about the differences between Zippo and Ronsonol fuel. Your detailed analysis and personal experience shed some light on this debate.

    It’s fascinating how the Zippo brand itself recommends using their own lighter fluid for optimal performance. However, your exploration of Ronsonol as a viable alternative is quite intriguing. It’s reassuring to know that you’ve used both brands interchangeably and observed no discernible difference in their performance. This speaks volumes about the quality and effectiveness of both products.

    I appreciate your cautionary approach towards experimenting with alternative fuels such as kerosene or denatured alcohol. The potential risks and potential damage to the lighters themselves make it understandable why you haven’t pursued those experiments. It’s wise to stick with the tried and tested options readily available, like Zippo and Ronsonol.

    Your suggestion of using petrol lighter fluid as a solvent or cleaner for vintage lighters and even as a spot remover for laundry is a valuable tip. It showcases the versatility of these fuels beyond their primary purpose.

    Overall, this article has given me a better understanding of the considerations involved in choosing the right fuel for vintage petrol lighters. Your personal experiences and insights have been truly enlightening. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and inviting readers to contribute their thoughts and experiences. I look forward to exploring your YouTube channel and joining the Vintage Coffee And Lighters Live! discussions. Keep up the great work!

    Cheers

    M.T. Wolf

    1. I don’t think there is any difference at all between these two fuels M.T. but I don’t have any way of proving that, it’s just the feeling I get from using them both interchangeably for such a long period of time and not seeing any difference in the way that each functions. I am glad that you found the article so interesting and thank you for leaving such a thorough and kind comment about the article. I hope that you will continue to come back and check out our newest content each week, including the videos on our YouTube channel.

  4. Great article! I appreciate your thorough exploration of the debate between Zippo and Ronsonol lighter fuels for vintage petrol lighters. It’s clear that you have extensive experience with both brands and have provided valuable insights for fellow enthusiasts.

    Your personal preference for Zippo Lighter Fuel due to its association with the Zippo brand and its consistent performance is understandable. It’s also interesting to note that you found Ronsonol Lighter Fuel to be just as reliable and have used both interchangeably without any noticeable differences in performance. Your open-minded approach to trying different brands based on affordability is commendable.

    1. Thank you Anoth, I really appreciate you reading the article and sharing your insights on the subject with us here in the comments section. I was keen to use the Zippo fuel at first simply because that’s what the company suggests and it came from the same company. I have heard the opinions of others that the Ronsonol is a different formulation but from my experience with its function and the superior price at which I can often buy it puts it right on the par with Zippo fuel in my book.

  5. I haven’t yet used either product but was searching for what I should be using to get my dad’s old lighter fired up. The reviews are helpful but in the end it seems both are just fine in your opinion. I always appreciate an expert opinion as I have no knowledge of this area. I will give one of them a try and let you know how it goes. Thanks Brian

    1. You bet Brian, either of these fuels will work just fine for your needs, I don’t have any doubt about that. You might try to pick some up at your local grocery story because the place that I have found it most affordable was at the Winco near my house. I appreciate you putting confidence in my opinions and also for taking the time to read the review and leave such a nice comment. Once you use either of these fuels you won’t be thinking about my opinion anymore just how well the fuel works!

  6. Hello Joseph!
    Back years ago when ZLF was inexpensive, I collected the cans as well as the other Zippo related materials. I loved seeing the progression of the artwork and details.
    Well, as we all know, steel rusts. I had accidentally sat a full can of ZLF under a sink in my bathroom while moving so you can imagine the cans condition when I found it. Price was $3 when I bought it. So I transferred the old ZLF into two newer cans I had, and topped those cans off with white gas, because by then the price was over $5, and I could see the writing on the wall so to speak😂 I’m not exactly sure why the WG improved the performance of the older ZLF, either can degradation increased oxidation or who knows, moisture? The mix performed great. OF COURSE we prefer ZLF or Ronsonol. Wal-Mart wants $1 an ounce now I found out today during an online search for Ronsonol. We live in a world where people cry over ZLF fumes and dump tons of plastic from disposable lighters into landfills.

    1. Hey Mark, thanks for the comment here on the website my friend as well as your interaction on the YouTube channel and Facebook page! I don’t think too much about evaporating fuel because they all do it to one extent or another and I do think that all that plastic being produced(and thrown away) is a much bigger issue for the environment. Fuel can definitely be expensive at times so I have thought about experimenting with some of those other fuels. Did the white gas leave any unpleasant odor?

      1. No more unpleasant to me than ZLF. Of course we grew up using Coleman Fuel all the time. It doesn’t “rot ” the lighters wick or cotton/rayon or ruin my flints. Now the whole “gasoline /kerosene” trip…no. That stuff burns way nastier than ZLF/Ronsonol or Coleman Fuel. In fact if I HAD to use gas or kerosene like that, as soon as that horrible survival situation was over, I would strip my insert, replace the wadding and wick after I cleaned it with Coleman fuel…😂. White gas is simply a form of older formula gasoline without all the additives they put in what we call gasoline today. Its lower octane. Brand name Coleman fuel has a small amount of an additive for rust preventing and some Xylobenzine for cold weather ease of starting

        1. Good to know, Mark. I need to pick up a can and give it a shot. I just saw a video that Comrade Tman posted a couple of yrs ago using either naphtha or white gas in one of his Zippos and wondered how that went. I’ve got about a million different experiments that I would like to try but always find myself getting pinched for time but I’ll get around to all of them sooner or later and experimenting with some alternate fuels is definitely on my agenda. I appreciate your interactions and support my friend! Glad that you are along for the ride.

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