Gone are the days when lighting a match was about as advanced a fire starting technology available. (Even a match beats the pants off relying on this guy to stoke your flames.) The array of high tech fire starting tools available to today’s outdoor cook is ever-growing, and one of the latest products I’ve learned about is the Bison Airlighter.*
The Airlighter is a USB-rechargeable, handheld butane torch with a fan setting designed to quickly light charcoal, firewood, or whatever else you want to blast with high intensity flames (hopefully not your fingers, as the bright blue flame burns hot enough that it’s tough to see in daylight hours, so pay attention!).
Every time I click on my Airlighter, Smokey the Bear prays to whatever forest god he believes in that I don’t point it toward an innocent tree. The Airlighter is to a match what a cruise missile is to a BB gun. In other words, this lighter works… and fast. I’ve had good luck using it directly on coals to get them ready for my grill and on campfire wood–I never was a boy scout, so having an edge in this latter category helps balance out my kindling-design ineptitude.
But don’t take my word for the Airlighter’s potential, take the word of the promotional email that preceded my order: “If you¹re still striking matches or flicking a Bic to light a fire, it¹s time to leave the caveman days behind. The new Bison Airlighter combines a high velocity, 4-inch flame with a jet-air-stream to ignite charcoal and wood instantly. Using the Bison Airlighter you can be barbecuing for guests over hot coals within five minutes without ever having to resort to lighter fluid or gasoline.” Indeed.
Hyperbole aside, it’s hard to argue with the Airlighter’s results. My only complaint is that the first review model I received had a problem with the butane intake line that prevented me from filling its fuel tank without spilling butane; it needed replacement. This issue may well have been a fluke, it’s hard to know. The company was responsive to my request for a replacement model, and does offer a one-year warranty. Other than that problem, the real question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether a high powered butane lighter is worth the $100 it costs, as compared to similar lower cost torches, or compared to a 99 cent lighter and a $15 charcoal chimney. I think backyard grill gadgets can be fun, so it’s really a question of whether one wants to put $100 towards a lighter or toward something else equally unnecessary but kind of awesome. Happy choosing!
*Full disclosure: the Bison company sent me a free lighter to test, though per my usual policy I did not promise to review it and told them in advance that I’d be honest if I did.