Learning how to light a cigar takes patience and a bit of finesse. Much like toasting the perfect marshmallow over a campfire, one wrong move and the experience can go up in flames.
But that’s why you’re here, reading along with us to learn how to light a cigar so that the next time you light up won’t be a total let down.
Let’s start with the basics.
Why is it important to light a cigar properly?
The simple answer to this question is that a well-lit cigar is a cigar that’s enjoyed as the maker intended. When lit properly, the wrapper, binder and the filler–all those crucial components that come together to give a cigar its unique flavour–release the aromas and tastes evenly for a smoother smoking experience.
Finding the Right Light for Your Cigar
Ideally, you don’t want to light your cigar on just anything. Sources like sulfur matches, candles or oil-fueled lighters can alter the flavour of your cigar by adding strange tastes to the smoke.
There are special lighters made specifically for cigars. These lighters use odourless butane fuel and have a flame (or flames) that are wide enough to light the entire tip of the smoke. Easy.
Matches & Spills
Other good picks for cigar lighters include long, wooden sulfurless matches and spills. Long matches will not add those corrupting flavours to your smoke and the spill, which is a strip of cedar, will burn slowly and give the smoke a nice cedar scent.
Many cigar boxes come packed in a sheet of Spanish cedar, so you can make a DIY spill by folding the cedar paper into thin strips (about 1/2 an inch wide) and then using each one as needed.
Word of warning: spills create a lot of ash, so be wary of wearing white when you’re lighting up.
How to Light a Cigar in 4 Steps
First, you’re going to have to cut your cigar to enable air flow and proper intermingling of ingredients. You can find the best place to cut by identifying the shoulder of the cigar, which is where the curved cylinder end of the starts to narrow and straighten out. Make a bold, firm and quick cut here.
Next, let’s think back to that marshmallow analogy: don’t put your cigar in the flame. Rather, hold it just above the flame, but not touching it. Of course, sometimes your cigar and flame will meet and that’s okay. Just move them apart again.
As the cigar sits just above the flame, turn it slowly to heat all parts of the tip until it glows and the tip’s edges are slightly blackened. This can take a minute, so be patient.
Bring the cigar to your mouth and take a puff. You should notice the ember burning in an even, smooth manner while you draw, but if you don’t, just remove the cigar and use the flame to touch up the tip again.
Another option: blow gently on the tip to encourage an even burn.
Continue to puff until you get an even ash ring and enjoy your smoke at your leisure.
Check out this great video from Cigar Aficionado for a video demo.
Learning How to Light a Cigar Takes Time
There’s no question that lighting a cigar takes more time than lighting a cigarette, but just like that toasted marshmallow, when you do it properly, it’s a thing of beauty.