Derek Woodward of Redruth recently met a couple of veteran pipesmokers - one a Walrus flyer of W.W.II - neither of whom had ever seen a specially designed pipe lighter. Derek feels their case may be typical and suggested we print an article about the range of pipe lighters now available. We asked an up and coming young retailer, Darren Jenner,(sadly no longer with us, a great loss to the PipeSmoking fraternity) to help and here is his first published article.

My customers are always asking me which pipe lighter I recommend. I am beginning to think that how you light your pipe is as important as the pipe itself, or the tobacco. The match has always been a favoured lighting method and sometimes you wonder if a smoker is more addicted to striking the matches than to the tobacco. But now a variety of custom-built pipe lighters are available to vary the lighting routine. Petrol, gas, piezo quartz and flint are the main choices and each has its band of devotees. The choice in petrol is rather limited and dominated by the Zippo pipe lighter and the Falcon Nimrod - both are very popular with their users. But we sell more gas lighters than any other type and this category includes the Imco pipe lighter which is particularly good value for money at one end of the price range, with Dunhill at the other. An interesting new product from Colibri, the 3-way pipe lighter, includes in its configuration a flame that is guaranteed not to blow out in the wind. A good system for the Olympic torch! Sarome, Hadson and Corona also come to mind as makers of good quality pipe lighters. Now available are jet lighters which combine gas and air and ignite below a wire coil. Make sure you can handle these if you are a beginner. You don't want to burn the wood away down one side of the pipe! A new combination has recently been brought out by the Boston Lighter Company which works on methanol and a catalyst. This combination is odourless, tasteless, works in all weathers and doesn't need a flint or piezo quartz to ignite it. I find these lighters are problem-free but they need to be kept warm, so they wouldn't be much good to Sir Ranulph Fiennes. It all comes down to personal preference and I suggest you ask to handle as many of these models as possible. In some you may find the point of balance is not quite right for you, or the flame angle doesn't line up with your miniature bent and you've started charring your beard. One of my favourites is the Old Boy range by Corona. This is not the cheapest, but for those who appreciate these things, it has superb action on the flint wheel. Ask these questions: Can I work it easily? Is it comfortable in the hand? Is it easy to refill? Is it reliable? Is it good value for money? Your specialist tobacconist is there to help answer these questions and he wants to keep you as a satisfied customer. But even when you've got your cherished new pipe lighter on you, carry a box of matches to be on the safe side!

Derek Woodward of Redruth