For me, the journey from flint striker to pocket lighter was a long one. When the strikers my school used turned out to be an endless source of annoyment, I tried using matches, followed by disposable Bic-style lighters. I wasn’t happy with any of them. It wasn’t until I found a used Ronson Jet-Lite at a garage sale that I even considered using a higher-quality lighter. After some research on Amazon.com, the Scorch Torch Vernon stood out as something that might meet my needs.
The short version of this review: (8.3 out of 10 stars, highly recommended)
- The Scorch Torch Vernon is durable enough to operate for extended periods of time (2+ years) in a chemistry class.
- The weakest point of this lighter is the adjustment knob on the bottom, which needs constant tweaking to keep the lighter working properly.
- This lighter, while intended for cigar smokers, has design features which make it very well-suited for the needs of chemistry teachers.
My photographic skills are not great. Sorry about that.
The basic stats:
- Size: 6.70 cm x 3.15 cm x 1.23 cm
- Weight (filled): 42.71 grams (about half the weight of a 9V battery)
- Build: Polished chrome moving parts, with textured plastic side
- Cost $7.98, Amazon.com
- Made in China
What comes in the box:
- The lighter
- A small velvet drawstring bag for carrying it
- The usual warnings and warranty information
- Excellent instructions on its use
How it works:
The Scorch Torch Vernon (STV from here on out) operates by pressing a lever on the side of the lighter. This lighter has three purposes: To release butane gas into the burner, to create a piezoelectric spark that ignites the gas, and to open the doors that allow the flame to be accessible by the user. This is basically the same design as all jet lighters, except that in this case the button is inset into the side of the lighter rather than on the top as is the case with a disposable lighter.
Photo taken from Scorch Torch site, due to my lousy photographic skills.
The flame given off by this and other jet lighters is a very hot conical flame, rather than the calm burning you see in a disposable lighter. As a result, the flame is more easily controlled, but is also considerably hotter than you might be expecting.
The design keeps one’s hands away from the flame, which is a very good thing.
Appearance: (8 out of 10 stars)
The STV is a very attractive lighter and will class up your lab considerably. Given that this is intended as a cigar lighter, the attractiveness of this product is no surprise. Up close, the lighter appears a little bit less fancy, with medium-quality polish at the bottom and top doors that have a significantly different finish from the rest of the lighter.
Quality of construction: (9 out of 10 stars)
The lighter is solid and the parts fit together moderately well. Though there are a few spots where parts don’t line up exactly, this lighter is of much higher quality than anybody has the right to expect for this kind of money. My feeling is that this lighter will remain serviceable for a very long time under normal classroom use, though it’ll probably look pretty rough after six months or so. However, keep in mind that this lighter (and no lighter, for that matter) is designed with classroom wear-and-tear in mind.
Design: (6 out of 10 stars)
- The lever on the side, which first appeared needlessly stylish, forces the user to hold the lighter in such a way that it’s nearly impossible to burn oneself. Given the extreme heat given off by this torch, this is definitely a nice feature.
- The double doors covering the flame burner at the top of the lighter initially looked to be another stylistic gimmick, but after carrying the lighter in my pocket for a while it was clear that they do a very good job of keeping lint out of the burner assembly.
- The lighting lever is the stiffest I’ve ever seen, making it hard to light. However, when I gave this lighter to my six-year-old son, he found that he simply wasn’t strong enough to make it ignite. This lighter may not be childproof in the literal sense, but was childproof in practice.
- There are no user-serviceable parts. One might usually consider this to be a negative, but given that students will have the tendency to mess with it, this seems like it would be a big plus for our purposes.
- Filling the lighter is a very clean process, and I have had very few problems with butane flying out all over the place while filling. On the one occasion where this happened, the butane evaporates in seconds and leaves no smelly residue on the hands.
- The size and weight are good for carrying in shirt or pants pockets.
- This lighter has, in my mind, a disappointing flaw: The adjustment dial on the bottom of the lighter constantly turned when carried in my pocket, making it necessary to constantly tweak it. I would have liked having a much smaller knob or adjustment screw instead of the big knob, and ended up having to use a piece of duct tape to keep it functional.
- If you run out of fuel, you’re kind of screwed. Though canisters of butane gas are pretty inexpensive, you have absolutely no alternatives to butane to keep this thing lit. Whereas a Zippo-type lighter can run on rubbing alcohol or just about anything else that burns, the STV is a one-fuel lighter.
- I’m never sure if I’ve filled it correctly. This is a problem I have with all jet-flame lighters because there’s no sign that the lighter has finished filling.
Ease of use: (8 out of 10)
The Scorch Torch Vernon is fairly easy to use, but can be a little tricky from time-to-time. Though the adjustment knob does a pretty good of adjusting the flame from low to high, it is also inexplicably set such that the lower half of this range provides so little gas that it won’t light at all. Not a huge deal, but it does require a lot of fiddling when first starting it up after it’s been in a pocket.
Reliability: (9 out of 10)
After repeatedly lighting it over the period of a few days, I found that the STV had a 98.3% chance of lighting when struck. This number was probably skewed by a particularly bad run of mis-lights when the knob un-adjusted itself and needed to be retweaked.
Things that will make it very handy for use in the lab: (10 out of 10)
- The flame given off by this lighter is very easy to control, and very difficult to burn oneself with.
- Though I don’t have any exact information about how hot this lighter gets, Wikipedia suggests that a temperature of 1100 degrees Celsius is possible with lighters of this kind. Because this sort of heat is generated easily, the STV would be excellent for use in teacher demonstrations where high heats are needed (burning magnesium, melting various compounds, and so forth).
- The STV has a hole built into it that can be used to secure the torch with a rope or wire. Though I would assume that this hole is intended for keychain use, I found that both thin wire and 550 paracord could very easily pass through and be used to secure the lighter to an iron ring or something equally bulky. When using this lighter in the lab, I would highly suggest doing this so that it won’t “walk off” with one of the students.
Overall rating: 8.3 out of 10 stars – highly recommended
The Scorch Torch Vernon is an excellent choice for use in a high school chemistry classroom. Though the adjustment knob presents a serious design flaw, I’m pretty sure that a big piece of duct tape would minimize the problems associated with it. At less than eight bucks, this is great for chemistry teachers.
The small print:
Though this is a very positive review, please know that the folks over at Scorch Torch have paid me nothing for writing it, nor did they do anything to request special treatment or a good review. This review was not seen by Scorch Torch prior to posting, and will not be changed based on their reaction to the review. Simply put: Scorch Torch has done nothing to influence me to give them a good review and have not even provided me with a press sheet of “talking points” like many companies tend to do.
Everything on the site is posted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC 4.0). For more information about this license and how it affects how you can use those resources, visit http://creativecommons.org. Please note that content from linked sites may exercise different copyright standards; before using their content, please contact their site administrator. On this page, the labeled picture of the lighter came from the Scorch Torch website, www.scorchtorch.com, accessed 1/28/2015.