light cigars with torch or matches

How to Light a Cigar


It sounds simple enough, light a match, stick the cigar in the flame and voila… you are on your way.


In essence it is that simple, but there are a few tricks that will help make the overall experience of smoking cigars an entertaining and joyously satisfying ritual.


The Flame


It is best to first examine the different types of fuel sources available to cigar smokers.


The trusty wood match has been a cigar smoker’s staple for generations, with the longer cigar match being one of the most preferred. Paper matches are generally treated with various chemicals, so unless there is no other source of fire, should be shied away from.


The same holds true for fluid lighters, such as Zippo or Ronson, as the fluid is petroleum-based and can drastically alter the flavor of the tobacco.


There is nothing worse than sparking up Cuban Cohibas or Montecristo cigars with a fluid lighter and tasting fuel instead of lush tobacco.


So the most preferred and most popular instrument of flame for cigar enthusiasts is, of course, the Butane lighter. An odorless and tasteless gas, Butane delivers the best fire for a cigar, as it allows the complexities of the tobacco to shine without hindrance from outside influences.


And with a mind-blowing array of lighter designs, refillable Butane lighters are not just functional tools, but accessories that add a bit of style and panache to the cigar experience.


When using either Butane or fluid lighters, always be sure to use premium-grade fuels, as lower-cost fuels can have many impurities that can not only affect the taste of the cigar, but can also clog the lighter over time.


No matter the initial source of flame, a favorite practice amongst cigar aficionados is the use of cedar spills or strips. These can be made using the Spanish cedar sheets found in many cigar boxes or the cedar wraps used to sheath many cigars especially tubed cigars.


Lighting the strips and using the strips to light the cigar, offers a clean flame and imparts a wonderful cedar nuance to your cigar.


The Pre-Light


The pre-light or false-light is one of those steps that is often skipped, but one that truly helps ensure a properly even light and smoother start to the cigar.


Also known as toasting, the pre-light is a process of preparing the cigar to be smoked by lightly toasting the foot of the cigar. This step allows the cigar to ease into action, while keeping the cigar from becoming hot or bitter to the taste.


To do this, hold the cigar at a 45 degree angle and ease the foot towards the flame. Gently roll the cigar between your fingers so that the foot is evenly toasted.


You should not put the cigar directly into the flame, rather keep it just above the tip of the flame and let the heat work its magic.


The Light


Once the cigar is properly toasted, then it is time to truly get the cigar underway. Following the same steps as the pre-light, bring the cigar to your lips and gently draw in through the cigar.


While still keeping the cigar above the flame, this will draw the heat further in to the foot of the cigar and set the tobacco afire. This one of the most gratifying steps of the cigar smoking adventure, so take time to admire the fiery flares, the bellows of smoke and the scintillating aromas that fill the air.


Soaking up all of the sights and aromas of igniting the best Cuban cigars is a rite of passage not to be missed. Once the cigar is fully and evenly lit, let yourself ease into the seductive cigar smoking journey.


There has also been much debate about whether or not it is proper to re-light a cigar. Well, ideally you never want to have to re-light a cigar at any time, but there will always be times when a re-light is needed. Whether an inconsistent draw, a windy day or just waiting too long between puffs, the need to re-light your cigar just happens.


If you are a third of the way through one of your Cuban Cohibas, you probably are in no mood to give up on it and throw it away! So if the need arises, then it is ideal to carefully trim off the burnt part of the cigar (guillotines come in handy at this point) or at least lightly tap away any loose ash.


Then simply follow the same lighting procedure as you normally would. The heat from toasting will help burn off any tar and oils that can make for a bitter smoke.


If a smoke has sat more than an hour or two, it will generally become to sour or bitter to truly enjoy, so it might be best to just start fresh with another cigar. The same holds true if the burn is drastically inconsistent and burning uneven. Some cigars might correct themselves over time and perhaps a little extra toasting will help get the smoke back on track.


If you feel you are battling through it, however, put it to rest and give another cigar a go (always have a back-up!). Cigars should be a joy from start to finish, not a fight to the bitter end.


Overall this step-by-step procedure is, of course, only mere guidelines, as when all is said and done you should do whatever works best for you. From matches to lighters and cedar spills, as long as you have a good clean flame, you are well on your way to enjoying one of life’s great pleasures.


So settle into your favorite cigar place and start the fire!


Thanks for reading!


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