How Butane Made the Outdoors Enjoyable Again
Anyone who has ever spent any time in the woods is familiar with the scourge of insects that descend upon hunters, hikers, fishermen, and campers during the warm weather months. It’s enough to make some people reconsider their love of the outdoors and to cause others to only venture into the wild after the first frost hits.
For decades about the only way outdoor lovers had to fight back was insect repellent. But that required slathering all your exposed skin with a bunch of sticky smelly gunk, and it didn’t stop insects from flying into your eyes, ears, and nose. It seemed like, despite all our technological prowess, we were consigned to living out our lives as bug food. And then a wonderful thing happened. The butane-powered thermacell was invented.
What is a Thermacell?
The Thermacell is a compact device that uses butane to heat a strip of fabric, referred to as a mat, that is infused with insect repellent. As the mat heats up it releases repellent that is dispersed into the air, creating an insect-free zone approximately 30 feet in diameter around you. (Of course, in windy conditions that will be less.)
While you can now get battery-powered Thermacells, butane-powered ones remain very popular. And because these devices are simple and well-built they tend to last for many years. So there are countless older butane-powered Thermacells still out there keeping hunters and hikers safe from mosquitos, black flies, no-see-ums, and other pests.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t just prevent these insects from feasting on your flesh, it keeps them physically away from you. So no more black flies dive-bombing into the corner of your eye while you’re trying to eat.
How Butane-Powered Thermacills Work
Butane-powered Thermacells come with proprietary butane cartridges that screw into the bottom of the device. Once the cartridge and mat are in place simply turn the switch to “on” and then wait a few seconds. Once you hear a hissing sound push the “start” button. That ignites the fuel which warms the mat and disperses the repellent. In just a few minutes you’ll have a protective shell around you and can sit back and just enjoy the great outdoors.
Refilling Your Thermacell Cartridges
If there is a problem with the Thermacell it’s that the company that makes them expects you to discard the butane cartridges when they’re empty and buy their expensive, proprietary refills until the end of time.
While we understand the business model, that turns out to be a pretty expensive proposition for many people since a full cartridge only lasts about 12 hours. A much more affordable course of action would be to pick up some Puretane, Ignitus, Whip-it! or Newport Butane from us and refill the cartridges yourself.
The thing is, the Thermacell butane cartridges are not made to be refilled. As such, doing so would require you to get a bit creative. We, of course, don’t advocate that you hack someone else’s product. But we have heard that refilling these cartridges can be done fairly easily.
All that’s required is a pair of pliers, a sheet metal screw, side cutters, a Phillips screwdriver, and a refill canister of high-quality butane.
- Remove the brass valve at the top of the cartridge with the side cutters,
- Then thread the screw into the one-way check valve,
- Then use the pliers to remove the check valve,
- Then return the brass valve you removed earlier. It should snap into place.