Initially a new wick is white. Over time, the wick will turn black from carbon build up, which will reduce performance. When this happens you need to “trim the wick:”
Using a pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers, gently pull it up until the clean wick appears. Grab the wick as far down as possible to avoid ripping the wick.
Trim the end even with the top of the chimney using scissors or wire cutters.
Tip: This should be performed once or twice a year. Each wick is almost four (4) inches in length, so after 2-3 trimmings you’ll need to replace the wick. The wick should be changed if the lighter does not lighter properly or if the ignition process has to be repeated multiple times.
Replacing The Wick On Your Zippo
To install a new wick on a regular or slim lighter model:
Remove all of the fuel chamber’s components; the flint screw, felt pad, packing material, and the old wick.
Tip: To make reassembly quicker and easier, carefully reinstall the packing material in the same exact order as it was removed. The pieces will fit together better.
Install the new wick through the chimney hole and bend the top portion of the wick over the chimney to hold it in place during reassembly.
Note: On a pipe lighter, the chimney cap is removable. Just slip your thumbnail under the edge at either end and lift.
Replace the packing material in small pieces, interweaving the wick between the padding in a serpentine or “S” pattern.
Tip: The goal is to make sure the wick has as much contact with the packing material as possible.
Reinstall the felt pad over the flint tube and secure it with the flint spring as previously mentioned
Hint: Be sure the flint didn’t fall out during this process.
Trim the wick even with the chimney height and reinstall the insert into the case.