Lighter Fluid

The term lighter fluid may refer to the three main types of fuel for everyday use.  Butane gas is the transparent liquid in cigarette lighters.  It has to be pressurized to be functional.  The gas is what catches fire.  In cigarette lighters, the butane is in liquid form because it is under pressure.  Commercial grade butane is called LPG, liquid petroleum gas.  It is added to gasoline and used as a base for higher chemical compounds.  Butane was used regularly twenty or thirty years ago in under arm spray deodorants and in household cleaning products that used propellants and came in an aluminum can.

The second type fuel referred to as lighter fluid is called naphtha.  Mostly naphtha is found in camp stoves and used as a solvent in chemical sprays.  These cleaning products are best for metals because they do not corrode or stain.  Some lacquers and resins include naphtha.  It is what gives shoe polish its distinctive smell.  Some fire-eaters use naphtha based lighter fluid because it burns cleanly and safely.

Lighter fluid infused briquettes are used for grilling.  Some people jokingly call charcoal lighter fluid because each brick is saturated.  The charcoal itself burns at high temperature.  The actual lighter fluid that causes them to light is meant for quick burning.  Charcoal bricks are soaked in a special lighter fluid solvent that make them easy to light as well.  Lump charcoal is what was used in furnaces and fueled trains a century ago.  It takes longer to light and requires a much higher heat to combust, but burns for a long time.  Lump charcoal, one could say, was the original lighter fluid.  It kept, was readily available, and burned much longer than wood.  Charcoal is another form of oil mixed with minerals and compressed.The dangers of cooking with high amounts of these fuels pose some dangers.

There are some health risks to be aware of when using lighter fluid for cooking and for general human use.  These petroleum products are transparent.  When using lighter fluid to cook, some compounds may get into the food.  The hydrocarbons do not break down.  At normal grilling temperatures, the higher hydrocarbons do not combust.  The amounts of these poisons vary depending on many factors.  At low levels, they are tasteless and undetectable.  High and repeated exposure to hydrocarbons is a known cancer risk.

The liquid and gas states of lighter fluids are just as toxic as its crude state.  Many of petroleum’s volatile chemicals are water and fat-soluble.  Many people suffer from cancer due to ingestion and exposure over time of these chemicals.  The price of oil rising causes its derived products such as household lighter fluid to go up.

Lighter Fluid Uses And Risks

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