What Are Plasma Lighters and How Do They Work?

What Are Plasma Lighters and How Do They Work

Due to the advancement in fire lighting technology, the tools for producing fire have evolved significantly. Right from stones to matchsticks and lighters, humans have witnessed the introduction of more convenient tools with the passage of time.

As better alternatives to matchsticks, lighters themselves have undergone drastic changes in terms of look and functionality. From the latter perspective, the latest trend is of plasma lighters.

Let’s assume that you are walking or camping when it is cold and windy outside at night. You may use a normal lighter to generate fire but it simply does not work. This is where a plasma lighter is useful. This cool gadget is a solution to issues that a normal lighter cannot solve.

This lighter is a perfect example of man-made plasmas that are found everywhere unlike the natural plasmas. It is just not a regular lighter. Read on to know more about it!

Introduction to Plasma Lighters

A plasma lighter is a small device that utilizes plasma instead of fuel to light things. It is electronically rechargeable. It is an exciting lighter that offers many distinct benefits as compared to the traditional one, such as flameless functionality, windproof, quickly rechargeable via a USB port, and quicker lighting than normal flame.

The traditional butane lighters are infamous for their bad odor and fuel spillage. Similarly, disposable lighters tend to add to environmental pollution by getting added to garbage quite often.

On the other hand, plasma lighters protect the environment by giving better heat at less energy as well as fuel. It also does not have any bad odor. Thus, it is not only more comfortable but also more affordable.

Electric plasma lighters emit heat through electrodes. Previously, these lighters were made for lighting only thinner objects such as candles. However, these days, they are widely used to light flat objects evenly and effortlessly.

ARC lighters employ the plasma technology but give a uniform flame and several sparks as compared to the traditional plasma lighters. Yes, these are the two types of plasma lighters.

From Where the Plasma Name Came?

There are three types of matter namely, liquids, solids, and gases. However, not many of us know that plasma is the fourth type. In simple words, a plasma is an ionized gas that allows electrons to flow to generate electricity. Thus, lighters that use plasma are known as plasma lighters.

How Do Plasma Lighters Work: An Analogy to Understand to Get Started!

Plasma lighters work just as common cloud lightning in the sky. When the clouds tend to rub each other, they get significantly charged. This results in a difference in the voltage (charges) between the ground and the clouds. This is also known as the potential difference.

Soon, a time comes when the clouds are unable to hold the charges anymore. Thus, they release the charges that move downward, from air to the ground, which is nothing but the flow of electrons causing electricity. In other words, lightning and thunder occur, which is genuinely plasma.

As the plasma’s stored energy is powerful, humans have come up with different use cases such as plasma cutters and lighters.

Thus, plasma lighters function on the lightning principal. Lightning occurs when an electrical charge in clouds cannot move through the air and the charged particles go down or jump between clouds to cause an arc of plasma, heat, sound, and light.

How Do Plasma Lighters Work: The Actual Mechanism!

It is known that fire occurs only if there is oxygen, fuel, and heat. In the case of plasma lighters, oxygen comes from the air, fuel is paper or candle, and heat is obtained from the electrons moving between the electrode through the air. The surrounding air acts as the source of ionized gas.

A plasma lighter has two electrodes namely, an anode and a cathode on each of the opposite sides. This means it has four electrodes. A 2 mm gap exists amongst all of them.

When you push the built-in button, the electrodes are ionized optimally, thus spreading ionization to the air. Air is now ionized (charging of atoms in the air) and the plasma (spark or electrons) moves to the opposite-facing electrode.

The same applies to the remaining set of electrodes. This results in an X or an arc shape of plasma. The red or blue flame color is the luminescent plasma transferring electrons. It is obtained due to heat.

When you bring it near to a candle paper, or a stove, the lighter ignites it. Thus, plasma lighters ignite with the difference in a voltage (when an electrode’s charge is more than the other.)

A current of high voltage acting as the energy source moves between two nodes to generate a highly-charged plasma arc. The plasma gives heat to light the object. Despite this, it is safe to use it as there is no flammable gas in their bodies.

If you close the lighter’s cover, it is impossible to ignite. However, if you are not careful and accidentally touch the hot arc, the risk of getting burned is always there. This is because the heat generated is tremendous. Still, plasma lighters are much safer to use than the butane counterparts.

Plasma lighters have no fuel in use, as they are driven by electricity. They come with rechargeable batteries that you can charge via a USB port. Once charged, the lighters have the stored energy.

A standard plasma lighter needs around 60 minutes to charge. Once charged, you can use it for around 10-15 minutes, which is sufficient for most people for a day. Plasma lighters are capable of generating 400 to 500 sparks a day once you charge them for an hour or two.

How the Different Types of Arc Lighters Work?

Two types of arc lighters exist namely, single and double. While both of them work using the same principle of lightning, their physical appearance is different.

A double arc lighter gives more heat. Thus, the electricity or stored charge finishes faster than a single arc lighter. It also means that you will have to recharge it more often than a single arc one.


Plasma is ionized air that drives plasma lighters. Electric current obtains sufficient energy to travel through the air while generating a spark.

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