How to Light a Cigar in 5 Easy Steps

At Hiland’s Cigars, we recognize that everyone’s approach to lighting a cigar is as unique as the occasions that call for it. Whether amongst friends celebrating a special moment, or savoring a solitary daily smoke, the ritual of lighting a cigar is a personal expression of style and tradition. While good etiquette often suggests the use of matches for a more authentic experience, we understand the convenience and effectiveness of a torch lighter. In the end, it’s all about enjoying the moment and the rich flavors that a finely crafted cigar can offer. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned aficionado, we invite you to visit us, light up, and share in the experience. We’d love to see you, and we’re here to guide you in selecting the perfect tools and techniques to enhance your cigar enjoyment.

Recommended Cigar Lighters

Lighting a cigar is more than just a means to an end; it’s a ritual that enhances the pleasure of smoking. Proper lighting ensures an even burn and unlocks the flavors and aromas that cigar makers intended for you to experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you master the art of lighting a cigar:

5 Steps to Lighting a Cigar:

1. Choose the Right Tools:

  • Lighting Tool: Opt for a butane torch lighter, wooden matches, or cedar spills. These options provide a clean, odorless flame that won’t taint the flavor of the tobacco.  Feel free to browse and shop our cigar accessories.
  • Cutter: A quality cigar cutter, such as a double-bladed guillotine cutter, will ensure a clean and even cut for optimal airflow. You can also use a “cigar punch“, which simply punches a hole in the head of the cigar.

2. Prepare the Cigar:

  • Inspect the Cigar: Check for any cracks or blemishes, as they can affect the burn. If you do have a crack in the cigar, there are some ways to repair it for smoking. If it is too damaged, it probably won’t smoke at all.
  • Cut the Cap: Using your chosen cutter or punch, snip off the cap at the cigar’s head or “punch” through the cigar cap. If you’re cutting, cut just enough to expose the filler without damaging the structure of the cigar.
  • Test the Draw: Gently draw air through the cigar to ensure it’s not too tight or too loose.

3. Warm the Foot:

  • Hold the Flame Away: Before you start puffing the cigar, position the flame about an inch or two away from the foot (the end you’ll light) of the cigar and get it “warmed up”.  This means you should evenly roast the end until it is black.  Don’t go crazy on this step, though.  Just get it warm.
  • Toast the Foot: Rotate the cigar above the flame to warm the tobacco evenly. This step helps to prime the cigar for an even burn. This is an important and sometimes overlooked step (covered below in our Pro Tips section)!

4. Light the Cigar:

  • Bring the Flame Closer: Now move the flame closer to the foot of the cigar, but not directly touching it.
  • Puff and Rotate: As you puff gently, continue rotating the cigar. This draws the flame into the tobacco, ensuring an even light.
  • Inspect the Burn: Check for any uneven burning and correct it by gently blowing on the unlit areas or touching them to the flame.

5. Enjoy the Experience:

  • Take Your Time: Savor the first few puffs without inhaling, allowing the flavors to settle.
  • Find Your Rhythm: Find a comfortable rhythm for puffing – usually every minute or so – to keep the cigar burning evenly without overheating.
  • Pair Wisely: Consider pairing your cigar with a beverage that complements its flavor, such as whiskey, coffee, or wine.

Cigar Lighting “Pro Tips”:

Pro Tip #1: “Toast” the Foot of the Cigar Before applying the main flame, gently toast the foot (the part you light) of the cigar from a distance. This preliminary warming helps to open up the oils and flavors and prepares the tobacco for an even burn. It’s an artful start to your smoking experience and can make the lighting process smoother and more enjoyable.

Pro Tip #2: Maintain the Ash for a Cooler Burn Resist the temptation to tap off the ash too soon. Allowing the ash to build up a bit at the end of the cigar can actually help to regulate the temperature, leading to a cooler and more enjoyable smoke. A well-constructed cigar’s ash can hold for an inch or more, enhancing the flavor and preventing the cigar from burning too hot.

Pro Tip #3: Mind the Humidity for Long-Term Storage If you’re keeping cigars for an extended period, pay attention to the humidity levels in your humidor or storage container. Ideally, cigars should be stored at around 68-72% humidity. If the humidity is too high, cigars can become too soft and burn unevenly; if too low, they may dry out, affecting the flavor and burn. Regularly check and adjust your humidor to ensure your cigars remain at their best.

These cigar lighting “pro tips” offer nuanced ways to elevate the ritual of lighting and maintaining a cigar, bringing additional enjoyment and satisfaction to both novices and seasoned smokers.

Cigar Lighting FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q: What type of lighter is best for lighting a cigar?
A: While many enthusiasts prefer wooden matches or cedar spills for a more traditional experience, butane torch lighters are a popular choice due to their ease of use and effectiveness. These options provide a clean, odorless flame that won’t affect the flavor of the tobacco.

Q: Which side of the Cigar do I light?
A: You light the “open” end of the cigar, often referred to as a the “foot”.  The closed end of the cigar, known as the “head”, is typically cut or punched with a cutter or punch designed for cigars.

Q: How do I ensure an even burn when lighting a cigar?
A: An even burn is achieved through proper toasting and lighting. Start by toasting the foot of the cigar with the flame an inch or two away, rotating it to warm the tobacco evenly. Then, as you bring the flame closer, continue to rotate and puff gently to draw the flame into the cigar. This method helps in creating an even light.

Q: Can I use a regular cigarette lighter to light a cigar?
A: While it’s possible to use a regular cigarette lighter, it’s generally not recommended. The fuel in standard lighters may impart an unpleasant taste to the cigar. Butane torch lighters or wooden matches are preferred, as they don’t affect the cigar’s flavor.

Q: How do I correct an uneven burn while smoking a cigar?
A: If your cigar is burning unevenly, you can try to correct it by gently blowing on the unlit areas or carefully touching them to the flame. Rotating the cigar as you smoke can also promote an even burn. If one side is burning faster, turn that side down, as heat rises and may help correct the unevenness.

Q: Is it acceptable to relight a cigar if it goes out?
A: Yes, relighting a cigar is acceptable. If it goes out, simply knock off any loose ash and follow the normal lighting procedure. Toast the foot to reheat the tobacco, and then light as usual. Be aware that the flavor may change slightly after relighting, particularly if the cigar has been out for a prolonged period.

Lighting a cigar is a skill that comes with practice and appreciation for the craft. These five steps offer a foundation for both new and experienced smokers to enjoy the ritual of lighting a cigar. Remember, patience and mindfulness are key to a satisfying smoking experience. Hiland’s Cigars would love to help you with any questions you have about cigars.  If you think we need to add something to this page, please feel free to contact us and let us know. Hiland’s sells premium cigars at discount prices every day. Feel free to shop our store online for cigars, give us a call to place an order, or come to our shop in Scottsdale, AZ and say hello.

Happy smoking!

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