Bic lighters
Source: Bic

These Urban Legends Explain Why People Think White Lighters Are Bad Luck

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May. 13 2022, Published 3:33 p.m. ET

There are a few superstitions in popular culture that have taken on lives of their own, without many people even recognizing their origin. From tropes such as "step on a crack, break your mother's back" to how black cats are inexplicably linked to bad things, we as a society have convinced ourselves that plenty of otherwise mundane occurrences could potentially have disastrous consequences.

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One urban legend that has a grip on society is the fear of white lighters. You've likely heard the superstition that using a white lighter is considered bad luck, but why do we think something so trivial will have such disastrous consequences? Here's what we know about the origin of the myth behind white lighters.

A white lighter
Source: Getty Images
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Why are white lighters considered to be bad luck?

According to Wikipedia, one of the roots of the white lighter myth comes from an association with the "27 Club," the group of famous stars who all died tragically at the age of 27. As the urban legend has it, musicians Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison were all in possession of white lighters when they died.

Though this rumor permeated deep into pop culture, it doesn't really have any basis in fact. Per Snopes, who did a deep dive on the subject back in 2017, there is literally no way that any of the aforementioned stars (except Kurt Cobain) could have had a Bic lighter when they died, as Bic lighters simply didn't exist at the time. Bic only began producing disposable lighters in the U.S. in 1973, and Jimi and Janis died in 1970, while Jim died in 1971.

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This would naturally lead most to think that the stars might have been carrying a different brand of lighter. However, the only major disposable lighter brand in the 1970s was Cricket, and it didn't rise to prominence in the U.S. until 1972. Furthermore, the publication found no mention of a white lighter in any of the stars' obituaries.

Kurt Cobain
Source: Getty Images
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Even Kurt, who was alive when Bic lighters were at peak popularity, did not die with a white one on or by his person. CBS shared crime scene photos from where Kurt died by suicide, and it was proven that the rockstar died with a multicolored lighter in his heroin kit and another pink lighter nearby; no white lighter was present.

The anti-white lighter stance exists amongst marijuana smokers as well.

In this Reddit thread, plenty of marijuana smokers claim that white lighters are bad luck for a variety of reasons. Although it's likely that their belief also stems from the unfounded "27 Club" rumors, the white lighter superstition has taken on a life of its own among weed smokers who think anything having to do with a white lighter is bad.

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A person smoking
Source: Getty Images

Before marijuana was legal in many parts of the U.S., white lighters were sometimes considered a giveaway to the police (or anyone else that you didn't want in your business), as many smokers got ash on the bottom of their lighters by using it to pack their pipes.

Other Reddit users mentioned a variety of bad omens attached to white lighters. Regardless of the superstition's origin, it's clear that quite a lot of people steer clear of white lighters, and we wouldn't blame you for avoiding them too.

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