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Lighter Explodes in Hand
A Personal Account

by Keith Burton - GCN 7/2/07

With every 4th of July, warnings are issued about the dangers and risks of fireworks. But what would you do if a common butane cigarette lighter exploded in your hand?

That is what happened to me Monday evening. I was just placing the lighter on my dining room table when before it touched the surface, it suddenly exploded in my hand, throwing pieces of its plastic body around my dining room.

No, I wasn't hurt, just very surprised. The lighter was not lit, and nothing had struck it. It just suddenly went "POW" and I dropped it to the floor. I am not so sure that it just didn't fly out of my hand. I was so surprised. I also had in my hand a set of keys and my cell phone.

In my 53 years I have never seen a lighter do that. These lighters are a commonly sold item in store across America. I don't even know where I got this one, but probably at a nearby convenience store.

The lighter you see in these pictures is made in China. A review of some others that I had on hand also were made in China. But those have not exploded.

The brand stamp of the lighter is StarLite. It looks much like all the others I have seen and there is nothing extraordinary about it. As you can see from the photos, the lighter's plastic sides are gone. The pieces I picked up showed no burn marks and the lighter didn't show any sign of heat.

The small explosion the lighter made was not a big deal. But if it had gone off in my pocket, or while lighting a cigarette, or driving a car, it could have been disastrous.

A search on the Internet failed to find a website for the manufacturer and I don't know if there is some sort of standard for these lighters. But this was an alarming event.

With the growing number of Chinese manufactured products that are coming under scrutiny, perhaps officials should add plastic butane lighters to the list. In past weeks, pet food ingredients, child toys, catfish and seafood products and toothpaste have come under question.

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