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Cigarette lighter in the fridge?

  1. Oct 14, 2015 #1
    Recently I had a fallout with a close colleague of mine at work that sort of escalated into a grave situation. In retaliation (which is pretty minor compared to what he did), I took his cigarette lighter and hid it from him. We've been telling him to quit smoking anyway. He threw a fit upon discovering his lighter was gone. To spite him further, I plan to put his lighter in the fridge in the office pantry. He would find it there himself.
    My question is, would this have any effect on the lighter in the fridge? Frozen and unusable thereafter? Or should I think of another 'harmless' plan?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2015 #2
    Placing the lighter in the fridge or freezer will likely not cause any harm as Butane's freezing point is too low for a household freezer (-220 F). Your arch enemy would find the lighter "as is".
    Now, an annoying trick would be to put the lighter in an ice cube and leaving it for him to find, but I really don't think you should escalate this spat any further.
  4. Oct 14, 2015 #3
    Thanks for the explanation! The idea is to put it not in the freezer but in the fridge (where he keeps his coke... haha)
    But in that annoying trick, what would happen? The lighter fluid would still be liquid, wouldn't it? Just that the lighter would be harder to find, in ice and in the freezer.

    It's not to escalate it further, but sometimes a little mischief is what is needed.
  5. Oct 14, 2015 #4
    Exactly, the Butane would still be in liquid form.
  6. Oct 14, 2015 #5


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    Lighters do operate less efficiently at lower temperatures.
    A lighter that works fine at room temperature might not ignite at fridge temperature. Plus condensed moisture might interfere with its flint.

    I know that sounds implausible, but take it from someone who likes his daily stogie even in the winter - I have to keep my lighter warm in my pocket or it stops working.

    Both problems go away after two minutes at room temp. (The question then is, how quick is his temper?)
  7. Oct 14, 2015 #6


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    Temperature will affect the vapor pressure of the butane, meaning that at lower temperatures, there will be less butane vapor available to start the flame. Going from ~ 20C to ~0C, the vapor pressure drops by a factor of 2 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butane_(data_page)#Vapor_pressure_of_liquid), so this may be a factor.

    But I agree with everyone else. After warming the lighter back to room temperature, it should work fine.
  8. Nov 2, 2015 #7
    I can vouch for the fact that butane will not vaporize readily if you cool it - the boiling point is right at the freezing temperature of water. I learned this the hard way, camping out on a cold night: my butane stove did not work in the morning.
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