Lighting Up Right (Cigar Journal)

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Apart from correct storage, lighting a cigar is the most important factor that determines whether smoking is enjoyable or frustrating. Here it is not about observing some kind of cigar etiquette or what is stylish or unstylish. It is simply about lighting the cigar so that its aromas can develop in an optimal way.


Matches: when using matches, always allow the sulfur to burn off first

The flame should never be sucked into the cigar by drawing on it, because this causes the tobacco to burn unevenly and preprograms lopsided burning. Before the first draw, the burning end should glow evenly across the entire diameter of the cigar. This takes time, a good one to two minutes. Blow on the burning end now and again and keep lighting it until the center of the cigar glows evenly and no dark spots are visible. Only then will the various types of tobacco burn evenly and the flavors develop as they should from the first puff. Impatience is out of place here.


The fidibus: the problems outweigh the charm

Due to their dominant foreign aromas or the deposits that form on the cigar, gasoline lighters and candles are completely unsuitable and do not require further mention. Long matches are acceptable, but you must be careful here that the sulfur head is completely burned off first so that its unpleasant odor does not affect the cigar. The soot development of the burning wood can be unwelcome, which usually results in an unsightly, sooty edge at the burning end. Cedar spills (fidibus) may appear stylish, but due to the soot development and the resulting foreign aromas are still unsuitable, even if this practice is still celebrated in upscale hospitality venues.

The classic butane lighter has a completely odorless flame and is therefore a good choice. A disadvantage, however, is the strong heating of the lighter during continued usage of one to two minutes. Some lighters get so hot that you can hardly hold them in your hand.

Jet flame lighter: with jet flame lighters, always keep a minimum distance of 3 to 4 cm from the visible flame

Probably the best choice are jet flame lighters that have one, two or even three flame jets. They concentrate the heat on one point and allow the precise lighting of the cigar in a relatively short time. Note, however, the extremely high flame temperature of almost 1300°C (2372°F). If the flame is held too close to the cigar, unpleasant foreign aromas are produced. The visible flame should never touch the cigar. Make sure that there is a minimum distance of 3 to 4 centimeters (1 to 1.5 inches), measured from the end of the visible blue flame. Now unfortunately completely outdated are the old filament cigar lighters, whose technology corresponds to the classic car cigarette lighters. Here, you hold the filament directly to the cigar and draw on it. Since it is not an open flame, it cannot be drawn into the cigar and you get a wonderful, even burn. These lighters can only be obtained from antique shops.


Take the time to light your cigar properly. Only when the glow is evenly distributed over the entire diameter can the full flavor spectrum of the various tobaccos and the basis for an even burn be laid.