Whether used for lighting a candle, or getting a bonfire underway, lighters remain one of the most popular and useful gadgets of all time. And with several million lighters sold every day, the need for standards in this area is clear.

The common element in both pocket- and utility-types of lighter is a plastic reservoir filled with pressurized flammable gas. This presents a very real danger if not designed and manufactured properly. The risk of accidents associated with non-standardized lighters is backed up by some shocking statistics. In Europe alone, lighters cause almost 30 000 severe accidents each year. Beyond the human costs, this carries an economic impact of around EUR 1 billion.

ISO 9994 sets the basic safety requirements for pocket lighters, specifically maximum flame height, drop resistance, resistance to high temperatures, resistance to internal pressure and to continuous burning. It was first introduced in 1989, and in common with all International Standards, has been reviewed and updated to continually keep pace with the latest technology. ISO 22702 first appeared in 2003 to cover longer-reach lighters commonly known as utility lighters, grill lighters, fireplace lighters, lighting rods or gas matches.

According to Steve Burkhart, the Project Leader and Convenor of the ISO working group responsible for both International Standards, the new revisions make significant contributions to reducing hazards. “ISO 9994 now includes requirements for flame height as well as the maximum quantity of fuel that can be stored, while ISO 22702 provides additional testing requirements that relate to the specific way in which they’re used.”

ISO 9994, Lighters – Safety specifications, and ISO 22702, Utility lighters – Safety specifications, were developed by technical committee ISO/TC 61, Plastics, subcommittee SC 4Burning behaviour, whose secretariat is held by BSI, ISO’s member for the United Kingdom. They can be purchased from your national ISO member or through the ISO store.

Barnaby Lewis