When a push button ignitor is engaged, a hammer within the device forcefully strikes a piece of quartz crystal, producing a spark that falls onto a ground plate within the appliance. When used in conjunction with a combustible material, a flame results.
Often used in camping stoves, gas-burning grills and potato guns, push button ignition systems operate on a system of piezoelectricity, wherein an electric charge is released when certain materials are subjected to high pressure. These certain materials, such as specific types of crystals or bone, have an inherent electrical energy.
When used in a gas-burning grill or stove, the ignition system provides the spark needed to light the fuel pumped into the appliance. The ignition system is often used in heating implements where electronic ignition isn't convenient, and where other introduction of flame, such as with a match or lighter, might be unsafe.
A push button ignition system cannot ignite the heating system of an appliance unless there is an adequate supply of fuel flowing to the ignition system. Push button ignitors are also prone to clogs and must be cleaned occasionally in order to keep working properly. Using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, a user can clean debris from the top of the ignitor rod.