How I Won A Zippo Blu Butane Lighter

One of the cigar blogs I frequent, CigarInspector.com, was running a New Year’s contest and all you had to do was be subscribed to their RSS feed. Then near New Years, they would publish a review with a secret link visible only to those who subscribe via RSS to a page to where you enter your email into a random drawing. Having never won anything online (probably because I never really enter any online contest/giveaways), It was shocking to receive an email from the Inspector indicating I’ve won!

The prize was a choice of either Capri 50 Cigar Humidor, Zippo Blu cigar lighter, or Lotus Spectre Switchblade Cigar Cutter; all really great prizes. Since I already have 3 humidors and a couple of cutters, I opted for the Zippo Blu cigar lighter since I really like them and you can read my review here.

© CigarInspector.com
© CigarInspector.com

If you enjoy cigars, I urge you to bookmark and subscribe to CigarInspector.com, you won’t be disappointed. They have top-notch reviews of all kinds of cigars (Cubans and non-Cubans) and the occasional cigar related accessories.

Merci beaucoup Denis!

Debunking the Undeserved Criticism: The Zippo Blu Butane Lighter Review

Zippo is an iconic company for the last 77 years producing nothing but lighters and is proud to still be manufactured in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Owning a Zippo is more than just owning a lighter, but rather an heirloom or a piece of jewelry to be passed down from generation to generation like a Rolex is more than a just a time-telling instrument. It’s more than a lighter for smokers, but a tool with a rich heritage of being at one time used by the U.S. military, the Boy Scouts, campers/backpackers, and so forth for many reasons including the ability to stay lit in harsh weathers. The distinctive Zippo click when opened or closed, the flint wheel, and all the cool Zippo tricks adds to the appeal of the Zippo.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpogpiOCTqU[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9rRkgnMVNg[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOHwjDzUDnE[/youtube]

Unfortunately for cigar aficionados, using a Zippo to light a cigar is not ideal as it introduces a gas taste to the cigar. Fortunately, Zippo offers us a wonderful alternative: the Zippo Blu butane lighter, a gorgeous butane lighter but does it live up to the Zippo name? Having read many online reviews about the lack of reliability, the answer seems to be no, and it certainly discouraged me from picking one up. I ended up doing the Zippo/Z-Plus Blazer conversion, but had a number of frustrating issues such as inconsistent lighting, so I ended up rarely using it. Fortunately I didn’t give up on owning a Blu and with enough digging online I found these positive reviews which changed my mind enough that I bit the bullet and did it. And I’m glad I did!

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Construction

The pictures do not do the Zippo Blu any justice whatsoever. The moment I held one in person, I was sold. It feels incredibly solid and looks amazing. Originally I wasn’t feeling the modern design of the Blu compared to the simple iconic Zippos, but it’s really starting to grow on me now. With the lid closed, it’s smooth, sleek, and modern looking but still retains the Zippo look and feel.

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20091219-Zippo-Blu-butane-lighter-Bui4Ever-009If there are any complaints to have about the Zippo, then there are four (semi-minor) things. First, the lid doesn’t always close fully. About 8 out of 10 times it works fine, but sometimes you sometimes have to nudge the lid to the side slightly to get it to fully close securely. Second, there is no way to adjust to the flame height. One trick I’ve found is to press down on the flint wheel and let some gas out before spinning the flint wheel to ignite the butane which works. Third, the gas tank indicator is a nice touch, but you can only see it clearly in bright light. Finally, the refill slot isn’t your average size meaning those cheap butane refill kits you buy from the gas station won’t fit correctly, which is good because you shouldn’t use cheap butane for such a great lighter as the Zippo Blu. If you use quality butane gas such as Vector, it comes with a handy adapter that lets you easily refill the butane gas tank.

Another thing I like about the Zippo Blu over other lighters such as my Blazer Venture dual-torch is the large capacity fuel tank. I’ve lit up some 4 Robusto size cigars, did numerous burn corrections on those cigars, I’ve played around with it by igniting it for fun and the tank is still showing 3/4 full! Typically with my Blazer Venture, I’m out of gas by the 4th cigar.

There are a number of attractive finishes of the Zippo Blu that you can buy. My local store only had two and I chose the better finish in my opinion.

Usage (Read The Damn Directions)

I’m like most people, just give me the damn thing and I’ll figure it out. If you decide to take that approach and it doesn’t work, don’t blame it on the product until you’re sure you’re doing it right. I’m sure when the Zippo Blu was first released, there might have been problems as you would expect with anything new. But what I know is, when I purchased my Zippo BLU Shadow Lighter Dark Chrome from Cigar Loft and Lounge, it has worked perfectly. Sure, it doesn’t always light 100% of the time, but I’ve never had a lighter that did. What I’ve found with the Zippo Blu is that it’s a different kind of butane lighter. The flint system on the Blu is a bit tricky, but once you get it down, you’ll find it works great. I, too, was hesitant about how well the butane flint system would work, but when people see me using it and try it out, they love it.

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I have not found the Zippo Blu is any less reliable than my Blazer dual-torch butane lighter, which was my most reliable lighter to date. There are a number of reasons why the Blu might not light and like computer troubleshooting, it’s best to do a process of elimination. First, make sure you’re using either Zippo Premium Butane Fuel, Vector Quintuple Refined Butane Gas Fuel Refill, or some other high-quality butane gas. The cheap stuff can cause clogs or weak flames. Second, did you refill the gas correctly? Remember that to refill a butane lighter, the lighter has to be completely upside down and not at an angle or you might get air which will cause the lighter not to light. Third, did you know that cold butane doesn’t light very well? If you just refilled your lighter, let it warm up to room temperature before attempting to light. If the lighter is already filled or has adequate supply, make sure it’s not cold by wrapping it in your hands for a minute or so to warm it up. Finally, with the Blu’s unique flint system, you have to press down and let some gas expel before spinning the flint to light it up. If you spin the flint as you’re pressing down, you’ll get horribly inconsistent lights and weak flames. The longer  that you let the gas expel, the higher and more intense the burn will be, to a point. If all that still doesn’t work for you, let someone else try it and if they have the same problems as you, then it might be time to send the lighter in for repair. Fortunately all Zippos carry a lifetime warranty.

Value

I purchased my Zippo Blu in-store at Cigar Loft and Lounge for a little over $54 plus tax. I could have purchased the same exact lighter on Amazon for $34.95, but I wanted to see it and feel it in person. At $34.95, it is a steal compared to other crappier lighters such as Colibri that you can easily pay hundreds for. I would purchase another at $54 without hesitation.

Conclusion

The Zippo Blu is one of the best looking lighters I’ve seen, period. It’s neat, it’s sleek, has a large tank, fits beautifully flat in your pockets, and the build quality of Zippo. People who see me using the Blu are always asking about it and once they try it, they are quite impressed. Sure it takes some getting used to, but if you give it a chance, I think you’ll find this is the lighter you’re most likely to carry with you daily. The cost is quite reasonable compared to other high-end lighters, but I like the shape and feel of the Blu best.

Also another thing to remember about the Zippo Blu is that you will have to occasionally replace the flint because of wear. The flint replacements aren’t terribly expensive and are fairly easy to do yourself. The Zippo website has excellent directions on how to replace the flint yourself and not void your lifetime warranty. You can also read more Zippo Blu FAQ on their website here.

I’ll leave you with one last video, a pretty good Zippo Blu review by CutleryLover. The only issue I have with the video is that he is lighting it wrong. Make sure you hold down the flint wheel for about a second before spinning it!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw5mwpwll08[/youtube]

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Zippo Blu Gallery Pictures

Best Cigar Lounge in the San Francisco Bay Area: Cigar Loft and Lounge

With all the anti-smoking legislation and laws in effect, it has become increasingly difficult to find a safe haven where one can legally light-up and enjoy a smoke. And with my wife expecting our first child, I definitely don’t want to expose either to any second-hand smoke, so I’ve been looking for cigar lounges around San Francisco and the Peninsula and I’ve found some places thanks to CigarGroup.com. Unfortunately it seems like the information on CigarGroup.com hasn’t been updated in a while, but it still did offer a great starting point.

From the list, I selected four locations to try and I called each looking for a few things: cigar lounge, cost to use their lounge, do they carry the Zippo Blu butane lighter, and do they carry any NUB cigars. Of the four places I called, only one place fit everything I was looking for: Cigar Loft and Lounge (Yelp review) in San Mateo, CA. With two other stores in the East Bay, I decided to pay the San Mateo store a visit after my dentist appointment and not only was I not disappointed, but I met a few new cigar buddies.

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Cigar Loft and Lounge (650-312-1141) is located at 106 W. 25th Avenue, San Mateo, CA across from Lucetti’s Italian Restaurant (an excellent Italian restaurant from what I’ve been told) along with a number of other stores. Parking is decent, with many 1-to-2-hour metered parking spots on 25th Avenue and be-careful not to make a u-turn on 25th because it’s prohibited and is a costly ticket according to one cigar aficionado who got a $300 fine.

My first impression upon entering Cigar Loft and Lounge was how nice a setup this place is. They have a number of large floor-to-ceiling humidor cabinets filled with a huge selection of premium cigars from many brands such as Opus X, Padron, AVO, Olivia, Fuente, Rocky Patel, Ashton, NUB, and so on. One brand I couldn’t find there that I’ve really been anxious to try was Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje brand (Wiki article), but with their selection so huge, I’m sure there are plenty of other brands that I can try. [2009-12-30 UPDATE: Further proof that I am blind, turns out that Cigar Loft and Lounge does in fact carry Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje brand cigars. Will clarified this in email to me. ] I also found the prices to very reasonable for a brick-and-mortar store. A number of the Opus X cigars was priced at ~$28, which is a great in-store price considering I’ve seen other places sell them for as high as $50 or more because of how limited and hard to find the cigars are. Although I usually buy my cigars online, I’ve been making an effort to support my local b&m store for a number of reasons including supporting the local economy and fellow BOTLs (Brothers of the Leaf).

20091219-Cigar-Loft-and-Lounge-San-Mateo-Bui4Ever-002I found Will Shekaib (store owner) and “Z”, Will’s cousin, very personable, professional, friendly and knowledgeable especially in helping me, a NUB noob, select the right NUB cigar for me, the NUB 460 Cameroon for $6.83 (review here). They were also the only store in the San Francisco/Peninsula area that carried the Zippo Blu butane lighter, which I’ve been looking to buy. There were two to select from: Zippo BLU Shadow Lighter Dark Chrome or Zippo Blu Sable Lighter; I selected the Shadow Lighter Dark ($54.95) as the Sable ($51.95) had a plastic cover cheap feel to it. I also purchased a large can of Vector premium refined gas that is “Quintuplus filtered 5+ times” for ~$7, as the cheap butane refill gas that I’ve using are crap and causing my lighters to perform less than satisfactory. A testament to their service, I had a bit of a struggle in filling my newly purchased Zippo Blu and Z took the initiative to help and spent the time to show me how to properly fill it.

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After completing my purchase, I decided to partake in their cigar lounge. While there is no cost to use the lounge, you do have to purchase at least a cigar, though you don’t have to smoke what you just purchased and are welcome to smoke anything you may have bought with you. I find it rude when some people come to a cigar lounge, don’t buy anything, and expect to use the lounge for free. That would be like going to Starbucks drinking home brought coffee sitting at the tables. The cigar lounge at the Cigar Loft and Lounge is quite generous taking up half, if not more, the size of the store in the back with plenty of large, over-sized, comfortable leather single-seat couches, a large wall-mounted Plasma T.V. complete with a microwave and a fridge. I joined two other BOTL (regulars there) who were already watching the football game and they were very personable, friendly, and inviting. Before long, we were joined by other regulars, all of which were extremely friendly and welcoming. With the relaxed atmosphere, comfortable couches, and friendly cigar aficionados, we discussed everything from favorite cigars to the football game to life in general. Who could ask for more.

This is a very friendly and relaxing atmosphere where you can bring your significant other, provided that he/she enjoys cigar smoking or can tolerate the smoke, and a bunch of friends. While the store has great ventilation, because of the enclosed room, you will end up smelling like cigar smoke after you leave. It’s like eating at Hot Pot City, food is good, but you smell like it afterward. You get people from all walks of life: retired/active police officers, teachers, engineers, CHP, and so forth. There are many great conversations to be had and shared over a fine stogie.

The lounge complete with microwave, mini fridge with beer, and big screen flat panel
The lounge complete with microwave, comfy leather seats, mini-fridge with beer, and big screen flat panel

The Cigar Loft and Lounge has a number of private humidors for rent for $25/month. Renting one gives you certain perks such as invitations to all their events, special discounts (anywhere from 10-25% depending on the cigar) and more. The group I was with there all had a private humidor.

I will definitely be back every couple of week or so. San Mateo is a bit more of a drive for me, but the ambiance, friendliness, fair prices, and great service is worth the drive for me. I didn’t really get a chance to take any snaps, but next time I’m there I’ll be sure to get more pictures. Will was generous enough to let me snap some pictures.

Cigar Loft & Lounge
106 W. 25th Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 312-1141
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10 AM – 8 PM, Sundays: 10 AM – 6 PM

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