Split Pea Lighter

splitpea3large-1.jpeg My Cool Tool gift this year is the "Split Pea" Lighter from County Comm. It's the "world's smallest lighter," a stainless steel tube 1.3" high and 0.5" in diameter. Unscrew the top, flick the flint wheel, and behold! Fire! Now I don't smoke, and rarely do I need to start fires here in Brooklyn. But the Split Pea appeals to my inner gearhead. It's ridiculously small, well machined, and functions well. It's sealed so that you can carry it in your bag, Every Day Carry kit, purse, etc. without worrying about fuel spills or spontaneous combustion. Plus, you never know when you might need fire, right? splitpea4large.jpeg I've carried a number of fire-starters in my EDC kit, and the Split Pea is the one I've settled on for durability, weight and size. I wouldn't want to light 20 cigarettes a day with it -- it's almost *too* small -- but for occasional or emergency use it's perfect. It's a great gift because it's useful, fairly cheap ($11.50), and universal in appeal. If you're giving it to someone in person, it's a good idea to fuel it up with liquid lighter fluid (from the hardware store) first, so they can try it out right away. (It's probably a bad idea to send a fueled-up lighter through the mails, although apparently you can take it with you through TSA security as a carry-on item.) Even people who don't carry lighters will like the Split Pea. -- Mike Everett-Lane Split Pea Lighter $11.50 Comment on this at Cool Tools. Or, submit a tool!


  1. I don’t smoke either but it’s still useful to carry a lighter. The problem is they’re either too heavy, too big, to flimsy or they run out of fuel after a while because fuel evaporates. This, on the other hand, looks like it’s just right. How’s your experience with fuel evaporation? If you don’t use it for a week or two will it still light?

  2. It’s cute and all and I like that it threads closed but nothing is as timelessly cool as a Zippo, especially if it’s the one your Dad carried through WWII.

    1. I would have to say that a vintage Kreisler Colibri is just as cool.

      I found mine in an antique shop for a few bucks because it was in disrepair. Took it home, fixed it, and it works great.

      Of course, the comparing the two is like comparing a knucklehead Harley chopper to a single-downtube framed Triumph cafe racer. They’re both great for their own reasons.

  3. Neato. My only concern with a lighter like this is burning the black rubber seal just below the threading.

  4. I’ve got a slightly larger version, from dealextreme. Mine works well, though some people complain the O-ring on theirs is faulty, making the fuel evaporate quickly. They’re okay for emergencies, but unless you have tiny fingers they’re a bit fiddly to light.

    You can get them here: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.3734

    They’re $2.something, but if you buy more than a few at a time they get as cheap as a buck fifty each. Free shipping, too. Gotta love dealextreme, it’s like an enormous online dollar store, free shipping on everything.

    I found out that with these zippo style wick type lighters, instead of fueling them with naphtha, (white gas, zippo fluid), you can fill them with isopropanol or any other type of alcohol. Burns much cleaner and hotter. Great for lighting pipes of, uhh, tobacco. Doesn’t give that nasty gasoline flavor.

  5. I’m wondering about the evaporation in storage issue too.

    That said, I might buy one just cause it’s damn cool!

  6. I’d lose that in a jiffy. I couldn’t keep track of big Bic lighters when I smoked and kept the toaster near my spot in the living room as a backup. It would be nice to keep on your keychain for emergencies, although I can’t say I’ve ever been in an emergency where I needed to ignite somethings. I suppose it would be a nice backup to waterproof matches and a Bic on a camping trip. It would be nicer if the base of the lighter were threaded so the cap could be screwed to the lighter when it was being used.

  7. I love the look and sound of the classic Zippo lighter. Purchased one for myself many years ago even though I had little need of one.

    The thing was worthless.

    I only needed to use it every few weeks (at most), but whenever I did, it was always out of fluid (presumably due to evaporation). Eventually, I threw it away. I now have a few classic Bic lighters scattered around the house and they never let me down. Some are more than 10 years old and still work great.

  8. Great… Now everyone knows the hallucinatory effects of split peas. Better buy a bushel before the word gets out.

  9. Fetish value, sure I get it. Small things that self ignite are awesome. But I can’t believe that this would be more useful in an emergency than a pack of matches sealed in wax. If you’re going to need one often enough to refill it, then why not get one sized for a normal hand?

    Come to think of it, this should sell pretty good in the shire…

  10. And do you know why the TSA lets lighters onto planes? Tobacco lobby. Yep. After 9/11 the TSA had a list of things to ban, lighters were on it, and the tobacco lobby heard about it, and they got it removed.

    Your security (well, security theater). Better risk having a plane blown up rather than some companies lose some money, right!

    “CorporateUSA(TM), working for you! *jingle*”.

  11. This is kind of neat, but awfully small. I think an ordinary bic lighter is more practical. With any of these Zippo style lighters, you have three things to replace – wicks, flints, and fluid.

  12. I used to have a tiny brass lighter about 1/3 the size of this one. I think I finally got rid of it in the last 15 years or so. I think it dated to back to the 1930s or 40s. Oh well.

  13. That IS a pretty cool lighter. I might have to get one just for the novelty of it.

    My current choice of emergency fire-maker is a cheap little doohickey called a match lighter, oil match or permanent match. It’s about the size of a small cigarette lighter, but it’s really just a small flask filled with lighter fluid. You unscrew the top and withdraw the metal stick from the fluid, then strike it against the strip of flint on the side of the container, using the same motion as you would when striking a wooden match against the side of the box. A small bit of frayed cotton wick on the end of the metal stick holds enough fuel to ignite and start a fire like a regular match.

    A Zippo would be more practical for a regular smoker, but because the match lighter seals-up when you shut it, I think it’s better for long-term storage. I notice the split pea seals, as well.

    Here’s the one I have (though mine has a different finish on it):

  14. That is certainly NOT the smallest lighter in the world. I still have a ‘micro-zippo’ I bought in France back in the 1980s (where they are sold). It is a scaled down zippo clone – about half the size of the ‘split pea’ and runs on about 3 drops of lighter fluid.

  15. If you’re looking for cool firemaking devices, I’d recommend checking out a fire piston. It uses the heat generated by air compression to light any bit of tinder you stick on the end. No liquid fuel required, no flints to wear out, etc.

Comments are closed.