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A Lesson in Lighting

My friends tell me I have to use a butane lighter to light my cigars? Is there a special lighting method with these lighters?
Posted: February 22, 2011

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You don't have to use a butane lighter. It's your cigar; it's your choice.

Many people prefer a match or cedar spill, and the reason is simple. The flame from a match is cooler than any lighter, whether butane or petrol. Why should you be concerned with the temperature of the flame? The same reason you should be concerned about biting into a slice of piping hot pizza. You won't remember the taste because you burned your palate. That relates to cigars thusly: the cooler the light, the cooler the smoke will be.

If you're lighting a cigar with any lighter (whether a Zippo or Dupont), it's important to remember to keep the cigar out of the flame. Hold the cigar about a quarter inch over the flame—not in direct contact. Rotate the cigar slowly. Start a burn around the perimeter. When it's thinly blackened around (but not charred), bring it to your lips and puff gently. The flame will jump to the center of the cigar.

Incidentally, using this method to light a cigar will significantly minimize the risk of the cigar picking up any residue from an oil lighter's flame. Ultimately, the taste of lighter fluid getting into the tobacco is the reason many aficionados use butane lighters.

For more on how to light a cigar, check out our video.

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Comments   4 comment(s)

JAKE MORAN — GAINESVILLE, GA, USA,  —  December 16, 2010 2:58pm ET

One of the videos on talks about using long cedar spills to light your cigars. I bought a box of 50 long fireplace matches (not exactly the same, but close) at the hardware store for like $2 and in my opinion, it's the best way to open up a good cigar. I use butane too, but the match provides a much 'softer' opening than any lighter technique I've tried.

Jake Moran

ERIC HASKELL — VILLANOVA, PA, UNITED STATES,  —  February 27, 2011 10:22am ET

Once while visiting el rey de los habanos in Miami, Pepin Garcia, a man that has forgotten more about cigars than most of us will ever know, lit my cigar. He used a torch to toast the the end to a glow, handed it to my and held the lighter below the glowing end while i puffed. I still like a soft flame on occasion but I dismiss the comments that insist that it is superior in any way.

Roger Metoxen — Greenbay, Wi., The Great U S A,  —  May 22, 2011 1:45am ET

I use a torch type lighter a majority of the time and I like to use stick matches ( stay away from the book/paper matches )like Jake, and I can reuse one of them 3-4 times using a lighter to light it, One very important thing to NOT DO is use a candle to light your cigar, The wax vapors will get sucked up and ruin the whole darn thing for you.

David Savona May 23, 2011 10:43am ET

Good call Roger--candles are not a good idea.

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