Ben, it was an interesting read where you linked us to...thanks. Here is part of what I read there:
How Catalytic Lighters Work
All catalytic lighters are variations of a simple theme - the catalytic process discovered by Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner circa 1823. There is an absorbent material inside the lighter that holds the fuel - methanol (alcohol). There were different brands of this through the years; it may be substituted today using the automotive product Heet, which is primarily methanol. The lighter also uses a little platinum as the "lighter mechanism". Platinum is very resistant to corrosion,which is why many catalytic lighters may still be useable today. On contact with methyl alcohol vapor the platinum acts as a catalyst to convert the vapor into formaldehyde and, in the process, gets very hot. In turn, the heat lights the methanol vapors and starts a flame. In the picture you can see the wires glowing from the heat generated by the platinum ball - in turn starting the flame.
First, the lighter is filled with fuel, allowed to "soak in" briefly, the excess poured back into the fuel container (according to the more frugal directions of the day) or simply pored out.
The platinum catalytic process has been used in lighters a very long time and in many guises. Pocket hand warmers have also used this technology. Lighters such as the Lektrolite also used a platinum piece to work on the alcohol vapors and produce the heat reaction. Other, far older, lighters used a "platinum sponge" - a small ball of fine platinum wires (on the order of steel wool), to the same end.
Over the years I have collected a few "new in the box" lighters. I think I might let loose of one or two. I need some new equipment;-)