Review: Top-Z Butane Insert for Zippo Lighters

Ever since they were introduced in 1932, Zippo lighters have been the most iconic style of pocket lighter on the planet. Not only are their dimensions just right to fit comfortably in your hand, but there’s something strangely satisfying about the click that it makes when you open the lighter. And of course, the nearly infinite styles and designs that exist to suit every taste. There’s just one problem: they suck for cigars. Top-Z wants to fix that.


Why do Zippo lighters suck for cigars? Mainly, it’s the fuel.

The viscous lighter fluid used in the lighters doesn’t burn cleanly, producing a thick black soot and generally smelling awful. When you’re smoking something that cost you north of $10 a stick, it’s a shame to ruin that flavorful cigar with that nasty soot. That’s the reason why butane lighters are popular with cigar smokers — they burn cleanly without any extra residue.

Zippo doesn’t make a butane insert for their iconic lighters. Thankfully the invisible hand of the free market solves that problem for us. Enter the Top-Z butane insert.

Personally, I’m a huge aviation nerd. I love everything to do with flying and especially that golden age of aviation following World War II. So naturally I have a Pan Am branded lighter. It’s not actually a Zippo — Pan Am’s marketing department cheaped out and went with a Japanese knock off called Penguin — but the dimensions are identical.

I wanted to make this my dedicated cigar smoking lighter. There are plenty of butane torches available online and for very little money, but none of them have the style or the compact size of the Pan Am lighter. That’s when I stumbled across the Top-Z drop in butane insert and decided to give it a try.

The Top-Z butane insert is a two burner butane torch, meaning there are two jets of flame that spout out of the top of the device. The lighter is operated by a push button located next to the burners. Pushing down on the button charges a small pizo electric cell that generates the spark to ignite the flames and releases the butane gas into the burners. Releasing the button extinguishes the flames.

The flame height can be adjusted using an adjustment screw on the bottom of the cartridge. This can be very useful to keep your lighter working even when the butane level gets low, I can usually get a couple more lights out of it before needing to refill the lighter just by adjusting the flame height a little bit higher. There’s also a port for refilling the lighter that is compatible with pretty much any butane canister you’ll find.

I bought this insert in November of 2014. In the four years of near-constant use that this lighter has seen, it has never once had an issue. So long as there’s butane in the tank, the lighter works like a charm. In the same time I know friends who have gone through multiple cheap “typical” butane torches all while this little insert keeps ticking.

Installing the insert is so easy that it barely deserves mentioning — pull out the old Zippo insert, store it (optional), and insert the Top-Z cartridge. Job done (provided you filled it first).

Overall I’m very happy with the Top-Z butane insert. It is a functional, reliable, and attractive looking item that does exactly what I need it to do. It lights my cigars with ease and does it while in a very attractive case. Well worth every cent I paid for it.

Blazer Top-Z Dual Torch Flame Lighter Insert
Price: $12.25

Overall Rating: * * * * * (5/5)
The perfect thing to upgrade your favorite Zippo for cigar smoking duty.


One comment

  1. I purchased one of these from Amazon a few months ago. Sadly, it does not fit snugly into my Zippo, and the entire unit will slide up in the case and jam when closing the case. Assuming it is a manufacturing defect (too small), I tried to return it to Amazon and it was rejected for for being a “hazardous material” item.

    I’ve used this insert before, and it worked great. Just be aware that the tolerance needed for a proper fit has too much room for error.

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