The vast majority of lighters that have been reviewed thus far on halfwheel have come from the established names in the cigar accessory market, but every once in a while we find one from a not-so-traditional source, There was that one we found on eBay, and then there’s this one, which we found on Kickstarter.
The lighter, the Dissim, is billed as the world’s first soft flame lighter designed for both upright and inverted use, meaning that it can be ignited and will remain lit at any angle.
While that might sound interesting, the question quickly became would people fund the development of such a thing? The answer was yes, to the tune of 7,067 backers who pledged $333,596, far surpassing the company’s listed goal of $3,200. The company says that out of more than 350,000 Kickstarter campaigns ever created, it ranks in the top 0.2% of campaigns for the most backers. It was also selected as one of Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love.”
The concept for the lighter came about in October 2018, and in the subsequent market research and design process, the company came up with a fairly unique design, highlighted by a patent-pending circular grip.
After reaching its goals and going into production, the Dissim lighter began shipping to backers in September 2020 and became available via the company’s online store and other retailers not long after.
WHAT IS IT?
At its core, the Dissim is a soft flame lighter, which means it offers a lower temperature than a torch flame. It also means that the flame isn’t as pointed or focused, so when there is a breeze it will move around a bit.
The body of the lighter is made from cast metal components and is 3.5 inches long, 1.8 inches wide, and 0.6 inches thick. It weighs 3 ounces and has a capacity of 2 grams of fuel.
It offers a visible fuel window and flame adjustment wheel, and comes with a lifetime warranty.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The retail price is $48 for the lighter and $58 for the lighter and a protective pouch, though Kickstarter backers were able to get those for $24 and $35, respectively, or as low as $29.25 for the combo if buying four lighters. You can still get a bit of savings by purchasing two lighters for $80 through the company’s website.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Using the Dissim is fairly straight forward; push the ignition down and you’ll start the butane flowing and provide a small spark to ignite it, resulting in a soft flame appearing out of the side opposite the ignition. The flame height is adjustable using the wheel in the middle of the lighter, and as noted above, the lighter will ignite and stay lit in any orientation: right side up, upside down, and anywhere in between.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
While the ability to use the lighter in an inverted position is pretty distinctive, I’m most impressed by the idea of this going from concept to Kickstarter to finished product. I’ve long been intrigued by understanding the middle part of a person or product’s story, and this one is certainly interesting. And to think that more than 7,000 people got behind this idea with their money is pretty impressive.
- The Design is Unique and Functional — Every time I put this on the table, someone asked me what it was and wanted to try it out. But it’s not all for show. The Dissim fits well in the hand on its own, and the open space provides an anchor for a finger should that feel more comfortable or secure.
- The Flame Can Get Big — This has one of the larger flames that I can recall from a soft flame lighter, and a truly complete range of flame sizes regardless of the type of flame. I have a feeling this will be more appreciated and useful for the non-cigar uses, but having the range of the Dissim is handy and impressive.
- It Feels Well Built — While I have some issues with the ignition, the metal body feels solid and hasn’t shown any signs of wear. That’s not to say it won’t, and I’ve seen some videos where a lighter was intentionally scratched and it definitely showed.
- You Can Ignite the Flame While the Lighter Is Inverted — It’s the big selling point, and it works. If you also light a candle, a pipe or other things where having this would be handy, then by all means it’s a positive.
- It’s Still a Soft Flame Lighter — Which means it will still be extinguished by a moderate breeze and the flame will flutter around in anything less than that.
- The Ignition Isn’t Perfect – It’s not bad, but you do have to generally go with a slower push of the ignition in order to have the best chance of sparking the flame.
- The Fuel Window Isn’t the Most Helpful — Between the lack of tinting and a good amount of glare, I didn’t find the fuel window to be very helpful.
- The Claim Isn’t Exactly True — I tried a few other soft flame lighters and you can light them in the inverted position, though given their design, you certainly wouldn’t want to.
- There Are Known Issues With It — When the lighters began shipping, the company sent out an email advising users to let the lighter sit for eight hours before igniting it after its first filling. That’s because of an issue with an o-ring in the flame adjustment mechanism that could cause it to shrink due to the cold temperature of the butane, and thus leak out butane, which could in turn ignite into a messy flame during those first ignitions. Once that initial waiting period was over, the company said there should be no further issues, and I did not experience any. However, they acknowledged that it might not resolve itself and the lighter might need to be swapped out for a replacement. The other issue stemmed from the ignition wire not igniting the fuel due to the spark arcing backwards towards the body. It’s a simple fix, but an issue nevertheless.
- It’s Not Recommended for Long Toastings — Dissim’s instruction manual indicates that the lighter should not be used for more than 10 seconds at a time, which is hardly enough to properly toast a cigar. However, I ran into no issues whatsoever when using it for 30-60 second intervals.
When it comes to soft flame lighters in the premium cigar space, options are much more limited, and there are even fewer that make a claim such as being able to light and function in an inverted position. But if the soft flame aspect is the key selling point, there are some worthy competitors out there:
- Vertigo Summit ($20) — The Summit offers an extendable piece that helps the flame reach a few inches beyond the body of the lighter, then retracts for easier storage. It’s not quite as long as the lighters sold as fireplace or barbecue lighters, but it’s close, and a bit more compact. While a different approach than the Dissim, this might be the closet competitor from a cigar accessory company.The company also produces a number of pipe lighters with angled flames.
- XIKAR EX ($59.99) — One of a handful of soft flame lighters, the EX has been a solid option for years. It’s well-built and fairly straight forward, while the company says its flame is windproof. I’m not completely sold on that idea, but it’s pretty solid for a soft flame lighter. The Forte is a similar option with a flame designed for higher altitudes.
- JetLine Samba ($34.99) — Technically a pipe lighter, the Samba’s angled flame comes somewhat close to that of the Dissim. I haven’t used it or other soft flames from the company, such as the Bolla, Pipe-G, Golem or Pipe Pro.
- Colibri Pacific Air ($49) — One of two soft flames from Colibri, this features a right-angled flame that is geared towards pipe smokers.
- Zippo Flex Neck Utility Lighter ($20) — As someone that lights a few candles in deep jars daily, if you want a candle lighter this is my preferred choice. The one I have takes a few ignition presses to get going, but the long body and flexible neck design makes this great for lighting candles. It could light a cigar, pipe or whatever else you want. It’s refillable and has a semi-useful fuel window. — Charlie Minato.
In mid-October, the company sent out a note saying that not only was it planning to add six new colors before the holiday season, it is also testing a new dual torch, windproof version of the lighter. There are also plans to make a smaller and/or slimmer version.
This comes along with news that Dissim had been purchased by VPR Brands, LP, a publicly-traded company that offers a number of products in the vaping category.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
Yes. The Dissim comes with some issues, but assuming you prefer a soft flame or simply have use for such a product, this seems like a solid choice and has been very easy and enjoyable to use in the weeks I’ve had with it. As noted above, it’s still a soft flame and comes with the limitations of that style, but it works well, comes in a unique design, and offers its own distinct value proposition, which is more than I’ve been able to say about a lot of lighters I have reviewed.
The lighter used for this review was purchased by halfwheel.