As a natural gas derivative, butane is one of the most plentiful power sources known to man. Thanks to advances in drilling technology, particularly hydraulic fracturing in shale deposits, natural gas is being extracted in greater quantities than ever before. This has led to an energy boom in North America and, as a result, increased production of refined butane. If you are like the average consumer, your experience with butane is limited to disposable cigarette lighters and portable camping stoves, but the gas also is used as a torch lighter power source, which is a vital tool for plumbers, builders, and jewelry makers.
One of the most highly sought after butanes on the market is Power butane, particularly in the 5x, 7x, and 9x butane refill canisters. Power 5x butane, for instance, refers to the refinement process and is indicative of the high purity level of the gas. Thanks to its quality, Power brand butane is often used as a replacement for other inferior quality gas, many brands of which have been known to clog lighters and torches.
Sourced from different parts of the world -- anywhere natural gas is plentiful, actually -- butane is a natural gas derivative. That means it is extracted from natural gas, but does not exist in and of itself in large enough quantities to be useful. Butane is created when natural gas is refined, and also results from the processing of petroleum. It is highly flammable and known for its ability to create a stable flame that can attain temperatures as high as 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit.
Made in the UK, Available Worldwide
Made by Keen-Newport in the United Kingdom, the STok butane brand is associated with a history of quality and purity that few competitors can match. In fact, Keen-Newport started making butane 50 years ago, and its products became a fixture in the market for disposable or refillable lighters soon afterward. When the company expanded and began looking for new markets, the idea for Stok butane was born.
Butane is a type of gas that is derived through the refinement of natural gas or petroleum. It is a flammable hydrocarbon that has many uses, including as a fuel source for disposable lighters, for a torch lighter, portable stoves, and many other applications. When burned, its flame can achieve a temperature of about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. The most common form of exposure for many consumers though is simply when they use a lighter. Here are a few questions that often come up:
What is butane?
It was discovered in the early 1900s and is what is known as refined butane, made through the process of refining natural gas or petroleum. Butane is colorless, odorless, and shapeless in its natural form. It is very flammable and inexpensive to produce. The gas has many different uses, such as in refillable or disposable cigarette lighters, camping stoves, torches, and refrigerant. It also serves as a fuel in industrial and commercial settings, primarily for high powered torches used to cut steel and other high strength metals.
How is it refined?
Whip-it! Butane is refined in a four step process once it has been extracted from natural gas or petroleum. The four steps are: Removal of oil and condensate; Remove the water; Glycol Dehydration; and Solid-desiccant dehydration.
How can I determine its quality?
One common method of determining the quality of butane you have purchased is to spray a small quantity at a mirror. Nearly all refined butane contains a small amount of paraffin wax to ensure operation of the lighter or torch; butane that leaves too much paraffin residue may be of questionable quality. Of course, quality is subjective. If butane lasts as long as you expect, or the flame burns as hot as advertised, then you may well be personally satisfied with its overall quality.
If you are looking for Material Safety Data Sheet information on Whip-It! butane or some other refined butane, the first place to start is either with the distributor or manufacturer. All reputable businesses that manufacture or distribute the gas, whether as a butane refill or in a lighter or torch, should be able to provide chemical and safety data on the product.
There are dozens of companies that manufacture and distribute refined butane, but the top ranked brands -- both in terms of reliability of the product and availability of safety data, are as follows (but in no particular order):
Looking back, it is hard to believe that our ancestors used pieces of rock -- flint -- to create sparks that led to fire. What is equally amazing is how long it took for human ingenuity to create flint-based lighters, the forerunner to today's piezoelectric torch lighters and other refillable butane powered devices. In fact, flint lighters, those archaic "rock" lighters, were only invented in 1823.
A Lucienne History Lesson
Most people don't know this interesting little fact: Lucienne butane is a private label brand made by United Kingdom-based Keen-Newport and distributed throughout the world by Chicago, IL-based East West Trading Corporation. Keen-Newport's history dates back to 1963, when industry veterans and close friends Geoff Keen and Ron Gibbons joined forces to design a high quality but inexpensive refillable lighter that would perform under the most stressful conditions.
East West Trading Corporation also markets Lucienne butane in refill canisters and with lighters, and while we currently only carry the butane we may also start to sell the lighters. The company also sells butane refill torch lighters and other devices such as lamps and outdoor cooking grills.
Like other reputable butane brands, Lucienne produces a comprehensive Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which lists information in several categories: