One of the ways we can make a difference in our homes is by choosing sustainable options when we need to buy something new.
A lot of us use lighters often, whether it’s to light the grill for a backyard barbecue, start a fire on a camping trip, or light a candle as we wind down after a long day.
Even though technology has advanced a lot over the past hundred years, many of us still depend on our disposable plastic lighters, matches, or fuel-powered lighters.
Electric lighters are a new long-lasting, zero-waste, and environmentally-friendly alternative to consider if you’re shopping for a new lighter.
By the way: Looking for an eco-friendly candle recommendation? Check out our new guide.
About Rechargeable Electric Lighters:
Why should I use electric lighters?
Electric lighters have both eco-friendly and practical benefits.
In the U.S alone, more than 600 million lighters are sold to consumers every year, 95% of which are disposable single-use lighters. And only 100 million are estimated to be in use at any given time. This leaves a huge number of lighters to end up in landfills every year, creating unnecessary plastic waste.
Rechargeable electric lighters are a long-lasting alternative.
Not only do electric lighters eliminate the wasteful use of disposable lighters, but they can also be more effective at lighting in difficult conditions like rain and wind due to their flame-free technology.
On top of that, it’s just convenient not to have to replace a lighter (or box of matches) when you run out of fuel. If you buy a high-quality electric lighter, it can stick with you for a long time and help you lessen your impact on the environment.
How do electric lighters work?
There are two primary types of electric lighters:
The most common type of electric lighters uses arc/plasma technology — which works by creating a high-voltage electrical current between two (or four) nodes, creating a highly charged plasma arc. When an object like a candle wick is in the arc, its heat will create a flame. It’s helpful to think of it as a mini lightning strike — or a tiny taser. These lighters stand out because they don’t technically have a flame and they’re incredibly windproof.
Coil lighters are also an electric option — but these are extremely limited in their use which is primarily for lighting cigarettes or cigars. They essentially work like a stovetop burner, electronically heating up an element that you can then use to light your cigarette.
Most electric lighters are powered by lithium-ion batteries that are recharged with the same micro USB plug you probably use for other household electronics.
How long do rechargeable lighters last?
For most electric lighters, a single hour-long charge can get you more than 100 lights. Some lighters (like the USB Lighter Company’s Motli) even boast up to 1000 lights per charge.
And the lighters themselves have the benefit of lasting an incredibly long time. Since the first electric lighters only hit the market in 2015, we don’t have evidence of exactly how long they'll last, but they certainly last longer than lighters intended to be disposable, while also avoiding the use of lighter fluid. We're hopeful that any of these lighters can last years, if not a decade.
Your Guide To The Best Eco-Friendly Lighters:
We researched and considered almost every well-rated lighter on the market (as of 2022) and compiled our recommendations.
Because the needs of each person may vary (think: a survivalist vs. a candle lover), we’ve broken down our favorite lighters based on what they’re best at.
We’ve linked to Amazon for many of these, but have also intentionally included Amazon alternatives for those who are trying to decouple themselves from the corporation.
Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which mean that we may receive a commission if you purchase something via one of our links. Thanks for supporting us — at no additional cost to you!
The Best Pocket Rechargeable Lighter: Nomatiq Dual Arc Electric Lighter
$30 | Grommet · Nomatiq
If you want a traditional-looking lighter, the Nomatiq electric lighter is sleek, small enough to fit in your pocket, and has a sophisticated metallic finish. A notable feature of this lighter is its safety flip cover.
The Best Candle Lighter: RONXS Lighter
$14.99-$17.99 | Amazon · Walmart
If you regularly burn candles, you know the value of a flexible neck on your lighter. This rechargeable RONXS lighter is an ideal electric lighter for your favorite candles because you can bend it into the vessel, even if the wick is low. At under twenty dollars, this is a great budget-friendly lighter that can also be used for much more than candles. The only downside to this lighter is that it does not have a safety lock, only an on/off switch.
The Best Dual Powered: LIHTUN 2 in 1 Electric and Butane Lighter
Around $15.98 | Amazon
While we love the sustainability of electric lighters, we understand that some people would like to also have a traditional lighter for backup. This lighter is unique because it gives users the option of using electricity or butane for power. Another notable feature is its LED battery display to indicate the current power level.
The Best for Outdoors: Extremus Waterproof Electric Lighter
$15.99-19.99 | Amazon
This lighters IPX7 waterproof design makes it the perfect option for outdoor enthusiasts in need of a fire starter. Due to its flameless design, you can start a campfire in almost any weather condition. Notable features include a whistle and paracord and a wide selection of colors. When purchased through KastKing, you can also add on a matching multi-purpose carabiner survival tool.
The Best Novelty Electronic Lighter: Frog Keychain Electric Lighter
$28 | Urban Outfitters
This adorable frog lighter doubles as a keychain and is a discrete option to keep with you wherever you go. The lighter is rechargeable via USB and the frog eyes light up when in use. Note that this is a coil lighter and not a versatile lighter option.
The Best ‘Cool’ Electric Lighter: The USB Lighter Company’s Motli Light
$45 | The USB Lighter Company · Bloomingdales · Food52 (different model)
The Motli Light from The USB Lighter Company is beautiful enough to keep on your kitchen counter or ready to use next to your favorite candle. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. A notable feature of the Motli Light is that it is soft to the touch, unlike the hard plastic many are made with. Many reviewers note how light and comfortable it is to hold. On top of the aesthetics, these are incredibly functional and hold up to daily use.
One of our teammates has been using an older model from The USB Lighter Company for a little more than three years and it's still working great. It shows some wear, but continues to light candles, hold a charge, etc.
The Best Budget Electric Lighter: SUPRUS Candle Lighter
$12.99-$15.99 | Amazon · SUPRUS · Walmart
If you don’t use lighters often but would love a zero-waste option on hand, the SUPRUS candle lighter is at an accessible price point. This design is versatile to use for many different purposes. Its slim design makes it easy to fit in your purse, backpack, or car glove compartment for whenever a need arises.
- If you like the clean aesthetic of The USB Lighter Company's Motli lighters, you might also be drawn to their new rechargeable pocket lighter.
- For those who associate lighters with Zippo, you'll be pleased to know they recently launched their own electric lighter.
- If you're old fashioned or aren't ready to sign on with a rechargeable electric lighter, we highly recommend choosing matches over fuel-based lighters, as less waste will end up in landfills.
- And lastly, if you're looking for more sustainable products to swap out in our home, look no further than our guide.
Matches vs Lighter: Which is better for the environment?
We've been getting this question — and wanted to update this post with more details:
If you want to sustainably light candles, campfires, or barbecues, the question of whether to buy a lighter or simply use a box of matches is a valid question. The choice comes down to: production process, environmental impact of use, and disposal process.
Production process: Matches require a tree to be cut down in order to be created — while any kind of electronic requires a great deal of energy and resources to assemble. Even non-electric lighters require plastic, metal, and manufacturing to create. Honestly, none of these options are great for the environment. It's worth remembering that this is why it's always important to use what you have (or buy used) before buying something new.
Environmental impact of use: This is where things start to get competitive. Each match you use is single-use. You take the entire production process that went into creating that match (foresting, production at the factory, shipping) and then burn it away in one use. A lighter on the other hand will have a much longer useful life. thousands — and potentially millions — of uses.
Electric lighters do require charging, but the electricity you'll use to charge up an electric lighter will be nominal. An hour-long charge will get you weeks of use. And no matter where you live, your power source is almost certainly going to increasingly come from renewable energy over the next decade.
Disposal process: Once you've used a match, it's not going to have a negative impact on the environment. It's small enough that it won't have an outsized impact in a landfill (if there's any of it left) and because it's organic, you can actually compost it.
Lighters on the other hand have the potential to have a worse impact on the environment at the end of their useful life. If you don't take your electronic devices to an electronics recycling facility or dropoff site (which you should) then the plastic, electronics, and other components are going to go to waste. Fortunately, electric lighters are going to significantly outlast traditional fuel-based lighters.
This is why it's important to not simply buy the cheapest lighter you can find on Amazon. instead, check out our recommendations, read reviews online, and make a choice that can last a lifetime.
Our consensus: Getting an electric lighter will absolutely be more sustainable than a single-use fuel-based lighter. If you regularly buy BIC lighters, swapping out your next 3-pack for an electric lighter will significantly help the environment. The same goes if you use fuel-based lighters for outdoor use: invest in an electric lighter now and you won't have to buy a replacement in a long time. On the other hand, if you don't need to light things very often, you're probably better off buying a box of matches every few years. Just make sure to look for matches that were sustainably harvested.