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Cigars 101: How to Light a Cigar

Cigars 101: How to Light a Cigar

Posted by Jack Rather on 17th Oct 2021

Cigars make an excellent accompaniment to a good glass of whisky, brandy, and even rum. The smoky flavors complement each other well and the whole process of smoking one is like a ritual.

When it comes to cigars, however, it's important to maintain a little patience during the lighting process.

Lighting a cigar is not as simple as lighting a cigarette and it requires a certain delicate hand. That being said, the process is what makes smoking a cigar so enjoyable.

Keep reading to learn how to light a cigar (properly!) as well as how the right lighter can make the whole process painless.

Choosing the Right Lighter

So you've picked a cigar and are excited to light up. Where do you start? 

When you're lighting your cigar, it's important to use the right flame source to get it burning. Many people don't know that certain types of lighters and matches will leave a foul residue on your cigar.

For example, candles and oil-fueled lighters all leave a bad taste in the mouth when used to light a cigar. Additionally, standard sulfur matches can also impart an odd flavor to your smoke.

At the end of the day, using a butane fueled lighter made exclusively for cigars is the best method to get the right burn. 

The options are going to feel endless when choosing the right cigar lighter, and ultimately the best one for you is going to be based on personal preference.

Cigar matches are another effective option in getting the perfect light. Cigar matches are longer than regular ones and they are sulfur-free.

The Intricacies of How to Light a Cigar

When considering how to light a cigar properly, we need to take a few factors into account. We want to make sure that we get a nice, even burn on the foot of the cigar. That way, we're setting ourselves up for a consistent burn the whole way through.

After cutting your cigar, you're going to start with something that sounds a little unexpected. It is, however, particularly important, and is the best way to light a cigar.

We're going to toast the foot.

When you draw on a cigar, the combustion is hottest in the center of the cherry, where the filler is. Toasting before drawing gives the wrapper and binder a head start. It's a simple process that will make the whole ritual of lighting a cigar and keeping an even burn more manageable.

You're going to hold a match to the outside edge of the cigar's tip, otherwise known as the foot. Then you want to rotate it evenly along the edge, which will result in a fine, white, ashy color change. This means it's been properly toasted.

Once you have toasted the foot, it's time to light your cigar. Start by holding it at a 45-degree angle just over the flame. You want to make sure the visible flame isn't touching the cigar itself.

Slowly puff on the cigar, rotating the barrel every few draws to ensure equal heat is being applied to the foot's surface. Take a look to check that it is burning evenly. 

Once lit, let the cigar sit for a minute. This gives it time to stabilize, much like you would let a bottle of wine breathe before pouring the first glass.

What to Do After the Cigar is Lit

When the cigar has begun to smolder, place it gently in your mouth and puff away!

If you find that during your smoke, your cigar is starting to burn unevenly, you will need to give it a bit of attention.

The first thing you can do is simply rotate the cigar in your mouth so that the combustion isn't too concentrated on one side of the foot.

If rotating doesn't even it out, you can apply a little bit of moisture to the wrapper where you want to slow down the burn. You can use a touch of saliva on your finger and dab it on the wrapper.

That being said, don't drench the cigar and don't touch the tip of it. It goes without saying that it's very hot.

While letting a cigar go out is absolutely fine in one sitting, you want to avoid relighting a cigar the next day as the taste will be bitter and unpleasant. 

Our guide on how to smoke a cigar offers more ways to troubleshoot the possible complications that may arise while enjoying your smoke. 

Enjoy the Process

Smoking a cigar is akin to performing a ritual. The act of smoking is itself only a part of the main event. Cutting, toasting, and lighting a cigar is almost meditative and the whole process can be incredibly relaxing.

The qualities that make a cigar such a dynamic pleasure, are also what make it a bit more demanding than the quick scorch and puff process of lighting a cigarette. A premium cigar is a hand-rolled work of fine craftsmanship, and it's only appropriate that we put the same care into smoking it as the artisans did in creating it. 

We hope that this guide has helped you learn how to light a cigar properly. You should have no problem if you follow these instructions, but remember, after a few trials, it will start to become second nature.