How an Electric Shock Lighter Works

By Isaiah David

Electric Shock Lighter Basics

An electric shock lighter is a novelty device designed to give your friends and foes a nasty surprise. Electric shock lighters look just like normal push-button lighters, and many of them actually contain a hidden switch that lets them function as normal lighters. When they are turned to shock mode, however, they deliver a startling, yet harmless shock to anyone who presses the button.

Piezoelectricity

These lighters work in the same way as conventional push-button lighters. Electric shock lighters take advantage of a scientific phenomena called the piezoelectric effect. When certain substances such as quartz crystal are struck, bent or otherwise stressed, they emit an electronic pulse. The stronger the shock, the stronger the pulse. Normal piezo lighters use this pulse to light fuel, while electric shock lighters use it to irritate people.

Dropping the Hammer

When you push the button in an electric shock or piezo lighter, it compresses a spring, raising a small hammer inside the lighter. When the hammer gets all the way to the top, a latch inside the lighter releases it, letting it spring down against a piece of quartz crystal. Two wires are attached to the quartz crystal. In a piezo lighter, these wires carry a jolt of high-voltage electricity to right in front of the fuel nozzle. The electricity makes a spark, which lights the butane on fire as it comes out of the lighter. In a shock lighter, however, these wires lead to the body of the lighter, where they send a shock into the hand of an unsuspecting smoker. If the shocker also doubles as a real lighter, the switch controls where the wires go: into the body of the lighter or up to the stream of butane.