How To Light Up Your Cigar The Right Way

Alex Mcil author
Alex Mcil

You wouldn’t be here if lighting up a cigar was as easy as lighting a cigarette.

A cigar is a completely different beast, and there’s an art to lighting one up perfectly. Experienced cigar smokers may have this technique mastered, but if you are just learning, you’ll find It’s a little like a dance which involves patience and grace.

After all, the ultimate goal is to ensure an even burn to promote those flavors in your mouth! Once you get it right, the rewards are satisfying!

Why Lighting Up Properly Is Important?

So why is the lighting process so important? 

Lighting up a cigar properly is important because an evenly burning cigar means all the components of the cigar will burn together. This allows flavors to blend nicely and come through as the creator intended. 

A well looked after cigar is what makes the experience and heightens the enjoyment. Don’t forget, keeping your cigars at the right humidity & temperature is essential for an even burn and a flavorful experience.

The Steps To Lighting Your Cigar

As a general rule of thumb, you want to use a soft flame as not to singe the cigar.

Strike your lighter first, angle the cigar at 45° and bring the bottom of it just above the flame. The distance will depend on what flame you are using, but usually with a soft flame, this will barely be touching the foot to sometimes touching.

Hold the flame’s tip towards the cigar’s outside edges while slowly rotating. While still rotating, gently move the flame towards the center until you start seeing ash appearing (you want every bit of the foot to be covered by the fire).

Image source: cigar aficionado

At this point you want to blow at the end, and if you see a nice enough cherry, it is time to place your cigar between your lips and puff away.

Pro tip: By blowing at the end of the cigar, you’ll see if it has been evenly lit. If you see black spots (as opposed to fully cherry), continue the process.

4 Ways To Perfectly Lighting Up Your Cigar

Here are four methods to lighting your cigar depending on what accessories you have available.

The sparking up methods are similarly, but with slight differences, as the flame type and burn rate differ.

#1 Using A Torch Lighter

A torch lighter may seem overkill, as we know the flame is very hot and can char the tobacco and wrapper (best avoided). However there are some advantages to using torch lighters for your cigar, such as, they are wind proof and can be used out doors & they have a very accurate flame that jets out with minimal flickering.

This is how to light up a cigar with a torch lighter

  1. Strike the torch
  2. Bring the cigar above the flame (approximately an inch)
  3. Begin by heating the outside edges while rotating the cigar
  4. Slowly move the flame towards the middle
  5. Once the cherry starts to develop, give it a couple of blows
  6. Raise the cigar to your mouth and take your first draw

Image source: cigar aficionado

#2 Using A Soft Flamed Lighter

Next we look at using a soft flame much like the ones produced by common Bic lighters. The process of lighting up is similar to using a torch lighter, with small differences. This is mainly because the flame does not burn as hot.

A soft flame is the preferred flame for lighting your cigar as you have more control of evenly spreading the flame provided you are indoors. 

This is how to light up a cigar using a soft flame

  1. Bring the cigar gently over the flame (much closer than with a torch lighter)
  2. Begin by exposing the flame to the outside edges of the foot while rotating
  3. Slowly move the flame towards the center
  4. After ash appears on edges, give it a blow until you see a nice cherry
  5. Time to take a draw.

These steps are similar to using a torch lighter except for two differences, a) bringing the flame closer to the cigar and b) it takes longer to fully light the cigar!

Image source: cigar aficionado

#3 Using Wooden Matches

The wooden match is yet an other soft flame method to lighting up your cigar. The process is exactly the same as mentioned above using a soft flamed lighter, however, there are a couple of things to consider.

  1. Because the process takes a while, it is important to source long matches as opposed to the cheaper book matches.
  2. When striking the match, wait a few seconds for the potassium chlorate and sulfur to burn off. You want to start lighting your cigar once the wood (not the chemicals) is fuelling the flame.

An alternative is option #4, cedar spills, which work on the same principles as matches (yet a third soft flame option).

Did you know: Some cedar spills can add more flavor to your cigars, at least at the initial light up process?

Closing Comments

The principals of lighting your cigar are the same no matter the flame type. The only difference is the necessary adjustments needed to get the heat distribution just right. You want to evenly heat the area of your foot so that the cigar also burns evenly throughout its entire length and only then do you appreciate the full taste of flavours as intended.

Remember, time and patience is needed and that’s the whole romance of lighting your cigar

It wouldn’t be fun if it was easy to do!