Old lighters seem to have a way of piling up in the junk drawer, even if you try to stay conscientious about not keeping things around when they don't work anymore. The next time you go to clean out your stash of exhausted rubber bands, tired disposable lighters, and other random bits and pieces, though, don't throw out those lighters: you might just be able to find a really cool use for them.
After all, while San Francisco contractors may be famous for their reuse and recycling tactics, they aren't the only ones who know how to wring every last drop out of expensive building supplies and components!
Like a secret container. It looks like you're carrying a regular lighter around, and it even functions like a regular lighter in the sense that you push down on the lever to activate a spark (and then claim you must be out of fuel when it doesn't light up). But if you pull up, the top of the lighter will pop out, revealing a little storage space inside for cash, medications, and anything else you might want to carry discreetly in a compact container. Here's a guide on how to do it.
Have you considered making your old lighters refillable? Yes, we're talking about the so-called "disposable" ones. You'll need to carefully remove the top of the lighter (tools like needle-nosed pliers can help you get a good grip without damaging the components) so you can pour lighter fluid into the lighter. It's a good idea to refill lighters outdoors or in a well-ventilated areas, and be careful to prevent cracks or spills.
How about jewelry? These vintage beauties are trying on a different lifesyle as earrings. Whether a lighter does't work anymore or isn't being used, this can be one way to keep a vintage or beloved belonging in the family without having it turn into a useless ornament gathering dust on a side table.
Ever dreamed of owning your own motorcycle? Sorry, not that kind of motorcycle, but a toy. You could buy one from a toy store, but why waste the plastic and the resources when you can make a pretty nifty motorcycle toy out of a lighter?
How about colorful rings? They're bright, blocky, and totally trendy, making great gifts in addition to fun fashion accessories. You'll need some crafting skills, but there's a lot of room for creativity when it comes to the shaping and the fill you use at the top. (MetalsAndThread, the Etsy creator who made these, uses acrylic for the fill material.)
Your lighter might not work anymore, but it can still give light. This stunning lamp uses a series of clear lighters strung together to make a colorful jeweled rainbow that adds light, texture, and imagination to a room. There are lots of different ways to configure old lighters in lamps, but make sure to consult an electrician for complex projects to check that they meet electrical code and the wiring is safe. For more on cool lighting ideas, check out our coverage of recycled lanterns for summer nights.
Don't leave it on the beach! Did you know that you can use a lighter as a beer bottle opener? The base of a lighter can be wedged under the cap for traction in order to pop it off, giving you access to a nice cold brewski.
Transform disposable to reusable. If you weren't content with just refilling your lighter, you can also convert it so it'll act more like a reusable lighter. You also don't have to settle for the plain old lighter case; try jazzing it up by gluing collaged materials on and then sealing them with a semigloss clear paint so they won't wear off.
Start a fire. Wait, what? No, seriously, bear with us. It is in fact possible to start a fire with a dead lighter, but it's going to take some work. You'll be using the flint (which is in fact usually not made with flint today) to create a small spark, which means you need the best possible tinder. Tissue and cotton lint both work extremely well because they're highly flammable, but you still need to be patient. Strike the lighter repeatedly as close to the tinder as you can until it catches, and then quickly fan it and add it to additional tinder to get your fire going.
So you can't go quite this big, but you can in fact turn a dead lighter into a laser projector, and let me tell you, once you do it, you're going to want to project everything, all the time, everywhere. A note of caution: Please be advised that looking directly into a laser can damage your eyes, and local law enforcement tend to frown upon the projection of lasers into the eyes of drivers and pilots.
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.