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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!
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.
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…✌️