Lighter fluid - really?

I was watching on YouTube a discussion on “Watermarks” and the different types you
would find. After placing the stamp in the tray the speaker then took a can of “lighter fluid”
and soaked the stamp! Lighter fluid? Any comments - thanks.


  • 9 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I've always used lighter fluid, the only difference with a "special" watermark fluid is the smell. The resulting detection is pretty much the same.
  • Yes! Been using it for years - works well and inexpensive. I put a small amount of fluid in the tray and then add the stamp. Of course, you want a well ventilated area and "No Smoking".
  • Wayne, Ronsonol specifically has been the detection fluid of choice by philatelic experts for decades (maybe even more than 100 years). Tried and true, it's low cost, and extremely effective. Smell is not the only difference however, lighter fluid is heptane based and flammable. Specialist watermark fluids (Safe, Clarity, etc) are non-flammable options developed by various groups. Some people have a lighter fluid allergy, and so they use these fluids, others don't like the smell of Ronsonol, so they make that choice as well.
    But it's entirely safe to the stamp in 99% of cases, so long as you don't put a self-adhesive stamp into it (and there is 0 reason to ever need to do that anyway).

    One tip I can give you is, keep a small pad of paper hands, like a pad of post-it sized paper. When dipping the stamp into the fluid, after examination, take it out, place it in the pad, press it briefly. The pad will absorb the excess fluid, and the stamp will dry much faster. This facilitates the onset of flash much faster, so you don't have to sit staring at the stamp waiting for it to dry. Speeds things along quite nicely.

    Note there are a few non-US stamps that do have fugitive inks in lighter fluid (not sure about the other fluids). So be careful with those issues (I think they are well documented, just check before you dip if worried about it). But as mentioned, more than 99% are entirely safe to dip.
  • edited January 23 0 LikesVote Down
    Scott - thanks for the response and back history re Ronsonol.
  • Used Ronsonol forever, never a problem, fast, cheap and easy. s-l1600
  • 29c!!!! Send me a case please!!!!
  • edited January 24 0 LikesVote Down
    Damn, that reminds me. Years and years ago I found a store display case of Ronsonal at a yard sale with about half of the cans, all with some fluid. I forget what the price on the cans was, but they were some years old. They all sold quickly at my antique mall booth.
  • The is an amazing market for items with old print etc. For years I would peddle old shotshell boxes, primer boxes powder cans etc. I finally had a customer send me some photos of his "project". He essentially recreated a general store ammo and firearms accessory display like one would have encountered circa 1930-40's.
  • edited January 26 0 LikesVote Down
    I wish I had the luxury of more room, I would set up a vintage hobby store with old model kits etc. Folks often do this with oil and auto antiques and advertising. I once found an antique mall booth done as a vintage drug store/ five and dime.
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