Petzal: A Cautionary Tale About Lighter Fluid

Lighter fluid is one of the handier things a gun nut can have on hand. It's a great degreaser, and because of the bottles in which it comes you can dispense tiny amounts, which makes it economical. My last 12-ounce bottle of Ronson lighter fuel lasted me more than a decade, and when it ran out I went into the local hardware store to ask for a new one.

"Aisle three, on the left," said the clerk, but when I went there all I saw was charcoal igniter and bottles of butane.

"Not seeing lighter fluid," I said, so the clerk went back to aisle 3 and came back with a bottle of butane.

"No, not butane," said I, growing enraged, "lighter fluid. You know, wick, flint, spin wheel, make spark, get flame?"

It was obvious that the 30-something clerk did not know, and was about to hit the Enraged Geezer Alert Button under the counter, so I left quickly and went to another store where I had virtually the same experience, except that the guy who brought me the butane had about as good a command of English as I do of Tagalog.

My solution was to go to a tobacconist, where they not only carry Zippos and Ronsons, but know what lighter fluid is, and sell it. I bought lots. Lighter fluid is terrific for degreasing base-screw holes in receivers, and for scope-mount screws in general. If you hose down your trigger with it at least once a year it will keep your trigger happy and your rifle will not go off accidentally because of gunk, and you will not find yourself on CNBC.