Why Do I Need a Torch Lighter?
There are many different methods you can use to consume your herb. Old fashioned J’s, pipes, bongs, vapes… the list goes on. For some, you simply need a device like a dry herb vaporiser and all of your needs are taken care of. Others require a bit of external heat—a flame—to get the party started. But what about your herb concentrate? What about dab rigs?
When You Need a Little More Heat
For dab rigs especially, your standard Bic lighter isn’t going to cut it. You need some serious heat to get that banger or nail up to temperature. You wouldn’t try to put out a house-fire with a water pistol, you’d want something a little more heavy duty. A high pressure water hose attached to a large tank of water, for example.
The same concept applies to dab rigs and heat sources. To really get that banger hot, you need to apply a lot of heat very quickly. A traditional lighter is simply not effective enough to achieve the temperature necessary to vaporise your concentrate. The reason isn’t necessarily the temperature of the flame—a torch lighter and a bic lighter have a temperature only separated by about 300°C—but also the intensity of the heat application.
To achieve the banger’s optimal temperature of around 260°C, you must apply heat consistently over an extended period. But remember back to those high school physics lessons: heat naturally transfers from warmer objects to cooler ones—thank the second law of thermodynamics for that. Consequently, as the banger absorbs heat, it simultaneously loses some to the surrounding cooler air. Using a feeble flame, like the one from a typical lighter, will mean a lengthy wait for the banger to reach the desired temperature.
Enter The Torch Lighter
This high-powered tool is essentially the heat-application equivalent of a high-pressure water hose. While your standard lighter is like a gentle shower, a torch lighter is a veritable hydro jet of flame.
Remember our friend, the second law of thermodynamics? While your dab rig banger is losing heat to the surrounding air, the torch lighter is replenishing it at such a rate that the banger doesn’t stand a chance but to heat up rapidly. But it’s not just about force, it’s also about efficiency.
Torch Lighters vs Standard Lighters
Torch lighters and standard lighters are like two types of runners. Your standard lighter is a long-distance runner: it’s not speedy, but it can keep going for a while. The torch lighter, on the other hand, is a sprinter: high-speed and high-intensity, but for shorter bursts of time.
How a Torch Lighter Works
At the heart of the torch lighter’s efficiency is something known as “the Venturi effect”. This is a principle in fluid dynamics that states when a fluid (in this case, the butane gas) passes through a constricted section (like the small tube in a torch lighter), its speed increases and its pressure decreases. This drop in pressure that pulls in air and mixes it with the fuel. By the time the fuel-air mixture is lit at the nozzle, it produces a much hotter, stronger and more efficient flame.
This is why your torch lighter makes that roaring sound; it’s the turbulence from the rapidly mixing fuel and air. It’s this very turbulence that allows the torch lighter to produce a blue flame, which is significantly hotter than the yellow flame of your standard lighter. So, while the temperature difference between a torch and standard lighter might seem modest, the true magic lies in the more intense heat application of the torch lighter.
Next time you’re firing up your dab rig, think about what’s happening behind the scenes. It’s not just a firestorm, it’s a symphony of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, all playing out in the palm of your hand.
Why You Need a Torch Lighter
So do you need a torch lighter? For dabbing, the answer is yes. They simply are an essential piece of kit for your dabbing rig. They provide a hotter flame, a more precise application and they don’t allow your banger to cool down during the heating process. Trying to heat your banger without one is like trying to mow your lawn with a hair trimmer; you could do it, but there’s an easier way.
Choosing a Torch Lighter
Choosing the perfect torch lighter isn’t rocket science, but it does require a bit of consideration. Just like you wouldn’t select a vintage wine without mulling over your choices, it’s wise to deliberate a bit before landing on your torch lighter companion.
Finding Your Flame
First, let’s talk about size. If you’re a frequent traveller or someone who’s always on the go, a compact torch lighter might be your best bet. On the other hand, if your dab rig setup is more of a stay-at-home situation, then opting for a larger, sturdier model could be the move.
Fuel type is another thing to think about. Most torch lighters use butane, but there are some models that utilise propane or even a mix of gases. While butane is easily accessible and relatively inexpensive, always ensure you’re using high-quality fuel.
Caring For Your Torch
Like any piece of equipment that you’ve invested in, your torch lighter should be treated with care. Regularly check the nozzle for any clogs or debris. A clean flame path ensures that intense, blue pointed flame we all love. And remember, when refilling, always choose a well-ventilated area, and give the lighter some time to acclimatise post-refill before firing it up.
Finally, there’s safety. While a torch lighter might feel like just another gadget, it’s a potentially dangerous piece of equipment. Always store it out of reach of children, and when it’s not in use, turn the safety lock on. When lighting, keep the torch at a safe distance from your face and any flammable materials.
In the end, the torch lighter is more than just a tool—it’s a necessary extension of your dabbing experience. Choose wisely, treat it with care, and it’ll serve up that pristine heat every time. After all, in the world of dabbing, it’s the little things that make the experience truly lit.