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Need a Light? 4 Alternatives to Using a Lighter

July 25, 2017
Need a Light? 4 Alternatives to Using a Lighter(Adrienne Allen/Leafly)
Lighters are universally regarded as one of the easiest and convenient ways to combust your cannabis when smoking a bowl or firing up a joint. They’re compact, inexpensive, and reliable tools that every cannabis enthusiast should have on hand.

However, there are actually some pretty neat alternatives to lighters that you may not know exist. While some are a bit off the wall and work well for a good gag, others can prove to be surprisingly and uniquely beneficial. Here are four lighter alternatives, from practical to downright wacky, for lighting your pipe.

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Hemp Wicks

If inhaling butane just isn’t your jam, using a hemp wick may be a terrific alternative. Hemp wick, or hemp twine that has been dipped in beeswax, is fairly popular among the butane-free smoking community as it has proven to be both effective and convenient in combusting cannabis. Some would argue that hemp wick may even produce better flavor from your smoke due to the lower combustion temperatures and control aspect of the flame.


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Furthermore, wick is easy to handle due to its malleability. Most choose to carry their wick in the company of a combustion source such as a lighter. One popular method for transporting the wick is to wrap it around a lighter’s base, using the spark of the lighter to ignite the wick. Carrying mechanisms for hemp wicks also exist, with new innovations popping up quite frequently.

Flame-Free Lighters

Don’t let the name fuel you! These lighters aren’t the same as our trusty butane-filled friends. Fairly new to the scene, flame-free lighters have become all the rage as of late. There are several designs floating around, each one unique in that they don’t require a flame—or fuel, for that matter.

Often referred to as “windproof,” most of these lighter designs use plasma coils (sometimes referred to as arcs), which heat to an incredibly high temperature that’s capable of combusting a joint tip or a pipe filled with cannabis. Other designs, such as a Tesla Coil lighter, utilize a tiny spark emitted from two charge points that are capable of combustion.


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Some designs work much better than others, but one big benefit of flame-free lighters is they’re handy in a windy situation. Other than that, they’re basically a novelty purchase (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

Glass Wands

Without a doubt, glass wands (also referred to as greevo sticks) are among the most unique and beneficial ways to consume your cannabis. Found in almost any glass shop that sells smoking paraphernalia, these small borosilicate wands work wonders.

Their function is incredibly simple: You just heat the wand up until it’s red hot, let it cool for a few seconds, and then press it into your pipe for a clean and instant vaporization/combustion. Greevo sticks work by heating the cannabis up to its combustion point and then directing the vapor or smoke into your device. These wands are capable of heating a sample to the point of vaporization as well as combustion; it all depends on how hot the tip is when applied to the flower.


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It’s arguable that consuming vaporized cannabis with a glass wand is, in fact, healthier than using a butane light (or even hemp wick) on account of there being no combustion taking place. Unfortunately, there is a downside to these wonderful tools: they’re incredibly fragile and often break very easily. Nevertheless, having a greevo on hand for special occasions makes for both a neat gimmick and a clean hit every time.

Magnifying Glass

Now we enter into the realm of the obscure. Using a magnifying glass to light your pipe? I know this one sounds crazy but with a little finesse, pulling this one off is easier than you may think. If you can bring this trick to a party, you’ll be sure to make a few new friends. All you need is a magnifying glass of basically any kind (or a shallow camera lens), and plenty of direct sunlight.

Hold the glass directly into the path of a sunbeam, approximately 8-12” away from your bowl, and wait. The sunlight will beam through the magnifying glass and create a mini solar flare directly in the path of your flower. The flare most likely will not cause combustion, but the heat generated will certainly be enough to vaporize a solid hit. Pretty cool, right?


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Arguably, using a magnifying glass is not practical in any way. However, this is a rad gag to keep around for social events, one that will be sure to turn heads.

Not all of these lighter alternatives are practical. Some may even be downright silly to keep on hand as a permanent solution. Either way, keep these four in mind the next time you find yourself without a light, or in need of a cool trick to impress your friends.

Patrick Bennett's Bio Image

Patrick Bennett

Patrick lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, where he spends his time writing, photographing, and creating content for the cannabis community.

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  • lovingc

    One of my favorites is a candle and incense sticks. You light the candle and wait for some molten wax to pool up then dip the stick into the wax and light it with the candle. This works well for a bong or any process that requires frequent relight. A large candle that will accommodate wax pooling is best.
    One thing I left out I am speaking about used sticks with no incense left on them.

  • Sy Katus

    Lighters made in many other nations beside the USA are not proper for lighting cigs or weed. Even the Spain made lighter they give you in the medical marijuana store gratis or sell you there is not a proper light in my view. It might mean I wont be able to buy one when I need it if I tell you, but only Bic lighters from a reputable supplier (a big chain store etc.) are okay as far as I can recommend. Believe me I only used matches on weed and cigs for years due to the experiences with china seas gas lighters. They burn everything away without the smoke ever reaching your lungs. I do not know the science behind it only I am aware of what I experience, I believe the ignorance of this fact explains much of the popularity of vaping.

    • F all this S

      Try a .5 secs flame and pull to ignite combustibles and then use the lit material ( burning weed) to keep the bowl lit.

      Same idea as a joint. One light and you should be good

  • F all this S

    One amazingly huge crock of crap this article is.

    So it would be better to burn twine dipped in wax to smoke with. Are you stupid?! That for sure causes inhilation of unwanted stuff. Esp when compared to any modern made butane lighter. All fuel is burned during ignition, unless you’re stupid enough the allow the flame to go out and you keep the gas release depressed.

    Maybe a tiny bit of research into how a lighter works would have been good prior to trying to convience me my lighter might be making my weed smoking less fun / healthy than these BS methods presented.

    A hot glass rod or a magnifiing glass seriously. What are we 12 and this is jr high science class.

    Here is how a butane lighter works…