The second fundamental skill after cutting a cigar is how to light a cigar. This can seem like a daunting task, with many different ways to get the job done. Some traditionalists swear by wood matches or using cedar strips. Others use plain Bic or Zippo lighters (non-butane). There are debates whether using lighter fluid will taint the taste of your cigar or not, and the majority of people seem to opt for a butane-styled torch lighter.
For this example, we will go over the basics with a butane lighter. Butane is an excellent option because it is a neutral fluid that will not impart any additional flavors into the cigar.
Once we have a nice cut on the cap of our cigar, we turn our attention to the foot.
The goal in lighting a cigar is to get a nice consistent ember going on the entire face of the cigar. If you have ever seen a cigar burning unevenly, it usually has something to do with inconsistent lighting.
Toasting the Foot of a Cigar
We start with toasting the foot. Think of this as a pre-burn or preparing the foot of the cigar for the initial light. Take your lighter and hold it away from the foot of the cigar. With the lighter lit, hold the flame off the cigar without touching the flame to the cigar. Rotate the flame around the edge of the cigar until you start to see a light glow. By keeping attention on the outer edge, you are also prepping the middle of the foot due to the heat crossover.
Once you see a light glow across the foot of the cigar, you are ready for the light. Place the cigar in your mouth and hold the lighter at about 2-4” away from the foot. Draw slightly while rotating the cigar. This helps prevent dead spots. After turning the cigar a few times, take hold of it in your hand and blow directly onto the foot.
To recap, you aim for a nice toast of the foot with an indirect flame followed by rotating the cigar during the initial light. By blowing into the foot, you can identify if you have missed any areas, which will allow you to get the most consistent light at the beginning of your session. After that, taking your time between nice consistent draws, and there is not much else to it.
Lighting a cigar seems to give many people anxiety, trying to make sure they get it right. We hope this helped lay out the fundamentals and explain the main points required to get a consistent light. Cigars are a place that we can all connect, and we want this process to be as approachable as possible. Next time you are with friends over cigars, we hope you share this knowledge with someone else to make cigars more enjoyable for everyone.
Founders Cigar Company is a veteran owned cigar brand located in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis. Founders retails their cigars online and through other retail partnerships. A portion of proceeds is used to send cigars to our U.S. service members downrange through a partnership with Operation: Cigars for Warriors. Thank you for supporting a veteran owned business.