Butane Source Blog
Informative butane articles and related industry information.

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.

What sort of things can I do with butane?

Butane refills are used as a fuel source for small hand held lighters and torches, camping stoves, lamps, small power equipment and generators, even as a refrigerant in refrigerators, freezers, and some air conditioning units.

Is refined butane dangerous?

Butane is a highly flammable gas that can be dangerous if not stored or used properly. If exposed to the skin, it can cause frostbite. It also can damage the eyes, and lead to other problems such as Euphoria, Narcosis, Asphyxia, and other permanent or temporary conditions or illnesses.

What are the top butane brands in the market place?

Some of the most well known brand names include Colibri, Vector, Newport, Power butane, Lucienne, and STok butane. Benzomatic and Ronson are also popular, while Zippo — long known for its ubiquitous disposable lighters, also produces butane.

Which is better: a disposable cigarette lighter, or a butane refillable lighter?

Both have their advantages and disadvantages and, ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference. Depending on how much you want to spend and how often you will be using a lighter, a common, store bought disposable model may be your best choice. They are inexpensive and can be thrown away when the butane runs out. But remember, a disposable lighter cannot be refilled or repaired if broken. Most refillable lighters are more expensive because of the build quality, durability, and due to the fact they can be repaired if broken or not working properly. Refillable lighters also come in custom finishes and can even be engraved.

Can my car run on butane?

Yes. Vehicles capable of using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) can, in fact, run on butane. At the time of writing, there are few, if any, major automotive companies that sell LPG capable vehicles to the public. Instead, most vehicles that run on this sort of gas have been modified by third party vendors. The main advantage in the long run is LPG is cheaper than standard petroleum or diesel fuel, and people who run them often enjoy tax benefits and the knowledge their vehicle emits fewer pollutants than other kinds of cars or trucks.

Where do I find safety information on butane?

Most reputable manufacturers provide chemical, safety, and other information about their butane in a document called a material safety data sheet (MSDS). An MSDS includes relevant information about the manufacturer, the dangers of using the gas, ingredients, first aid measures, fire fighting measures, and other useful information.

Finally, is butane expensive overall? This type of gas is less expensive than other kinds of natural gas products, but does not have the sort of widespread availability in terms of using it as a fuel for cars or trucks. It can be purchased in smaller quantities in a disposable lighter or in butane refill canisters and bottles for use in other applications. For more information on butane, its uses and safety and storage tips, contact Butane Source.