Even though it may sound like a rather simple task, there is plenty that goes into lighting a cigar. It is not
as easy as lighting a cigarette. Instead, the process of lighting a cigar accounts for much consideration and
technique. Up until you light the cigar and take the first drag, you must adhere to preparations that help
you get the best out of your cigar.
One must not make the mistake of being stubborn when it comes to lighting a cigar. The best cigar
smokers will instead emphasize the importance of patience when building up to flaming the cigar top. You must be patient and thorough to avoid any mistakes that can occur when leading up to the cigar ignition.
Being reckless can lead to plenty of undesirable lighting processes, which hinders the overall cigar smoking
experience. Cigar smoking, unlike cigarette smoking, is not a quick fix for nicotine consumption. It is
instead an experience that follows nuances, rituals, and settings. That being said, even veteran smokers
can sometimes make mistakes. However, as a starter, you must be careful of the little errors that can ruin
your cigar experience.
As you may know, the first time you hold a rich, premium, and earthy cigar, you savor it with your eyes and sniff it from one end to the other. This is not a cardinal rule, but it can get your taste buds ready for the enchanting, rustic, and aromatic fragrance that the cigar emits. Thus, most cigar lovers cannot wait to move to this process.
It is also a process that gets you excited about lighting and enjoying the cigar. There is something about
holding a cigar with your bare hands, feeling the tobacco leaf texture rub against the palm of your hand as the spicy scent leaves a few traces on the tip of your fingers. This satisfaction and pleasure are hard to explain even for cigar aficionados and inconceivable to non cigar smokers. After this process, one has to move forward to cutting the cigar.
Cutting the Cigar
Cutting the cigar is a very polarizing subject. It is the conflicting equivalent of putting water in whisky or putting ice in whisky. It is also similar to the long arguments over scotch or bourbon. Overall, it is one of those subjects over which different people hold different opinions. Whenever the cutting process is mentioned amongst long time cigar veterans, it is sure to stir up some uproar.
Ways to Cut a Cigar
There are three main ways to cut a cigar, the punch cut, the V cut, and the straight cut. Nonetheless, this does not mean that you cannot improvise. There are cigar smokers that do not even use a cutter. Instead, they use their teeth. Other times people prefer to use their pocket knives. There are arguments over this subject, with some people believing that one cutting method is better than the other.
You must not overcomplicate the cigar smoking experience and simply follow what you think is best and most enjoyable for you. That being said, all the mentioned methods do have some inherent pros and cons. Moreover, some general guidelines are beneficial for starters to ensure they do not end up tearing the cigar up in the process.
Different Parts of a Cigar
To get a good idea of how to cut the cigar, you have to go over to the different parts of the cigar and analyze how the makers craft a cigar.
At the closed end of a cigar, you can find a cap. This is a little piece of the cigar leaf fixed at the end to hold the wrapper together and seal the cigar. Some cigars are single caps, while others are double caps and triple caps.
This cigar end is also referred to as the head of the cigar amongst the cigar smoking community. Overall, the double and single cap defines the number of layers that exist at each end of the cigar.
At the closed end of the cigar, you also have the shoulder. When cutting the cigar, this makes one of the most important parts and is present on the side of the cap layers.
The Idea behind the Cut
The basic premise behind cutting a cigar is to remove the cap to an extent where enough air can flow through it. If you do not cut some of the cap layers off, you cannot hit a smooth drag and pull the cigar smoke effortlessly. In other words, without good airflow, it is impossible to smoke a cigar.
When removing the cigar cap, you must avoid going overboard and knocking all the layers out. Instead, try only to remove just as little of the cap to achieve adequate airflow. The general rule would be to use the slight bulge of the shoulder to indicate where you want to cut it. If you cut past the shoulders, then there is a chance that the wrapper leaves will start to unbind and unravel, making for a very poor cigar smoking experience.
Some cigar lovers may not agree with this, but moistening the cigar’s tip before you cut it can help make for a good cut. Use your cutter if you are doing that because if the cutter is not yours, it can raise sanitary concerns.
Moistening the cigar head prevents you from cracking the end of your cigar. Nonetheless, if your cigar is properly humidified and you have a very sharp cutter, then it shouldn’t be a problem. It is hard to tell the condition of the cigar you are smoking, which is why adding a little moisture can be helpful.
Another tip when cutting is to use a sharp cutter. If the cutter blades are not sharp, you will smudge the end of the cigar without cutting it clean. Once you have carefully cut the end of the cigar, you can move forth to lighting it up.
Choosing the best lighter
A cigar specific lighter is a prerequisite for the cigar smoking hobby. As mentioned earlier, cigars are not
like cigarettes that will light up easily, even from a little spark. Instead, it would be best if you had a good solid flame to achieve an even and flawless light on the cigar.
The question then arises is, which lighters are best for providing the cigar with the perfect flame. All too often, people get stuck with cheap, low end lighters that do not offer good quality flame to the cigar. What you want is a workhorse lighter that not only gives off good gas ignited the flame but is also reliable and durable so that it lasts you a long time.
Lighting the Cigar with a Lighter
Cigars are here to serve you with a relaxing smoking experience, so make sure you stick to the method that you like the best. Lighters are the most popular lighting tools, but some cigar purists believe matchsticks are the way to go. That said, here is a tried and tested cigar lighting tip to enhance your cigar smoking experience.
Toast the Foot
Many people like to toast the foot of the cigar before even taking a single puff. Toasting refers to char blacking the foot end of the cigar to get it warmed up before you can start dragging it. This is an important step as it accounts for an even light and helps cigar smokers avoid common issues.
If you are using a b utane torch lighter to toast the cigar, you need to be careful not to over burn the tobacco since it will destroy the essential flavor. Many cigar smokers mistakenly use the blue part of the flame to toast the end of the cigar. This will lead to torching out the cigar’s unique flavor before you have even taken a single puff out of it.
The secret to toasting with a butane torch lighter is to use heat from the flame to toast evenly. This will involve keeping the lighter slightly away from the cigar instead of jamming it. To avoid this problem, many cigar smokers will use a soft butane flame lighter instead.
Hold it at a Good Angle
This is a rookie mistake that many cigar lovers will end up making. What you want to do is hold your light at 90 degrees or 45 degrees with the cigar while keeping it straight in your mouth. Do not aim the direction of the flame directly into the direction of the cigar. This keeps the heat from shooting further back into the cigar.
Light the foot evenly
Many first time cigar smokers end up having a bad smoking experience because halfway through the cigar, they run into some of the common issues that arise from not lighting it evenly. This is why you must ensure that the rim is lit all around the foot of the cigar.
The next tip on the best way to light your cigar has to do with the first time you take a puff. After you have charred and toasted the foot of your cigar, it is best to take a long and slow first drag. Make sure that the puff is not short and fast since it will heat the tobacco and destroy the cigar’s flavor.
After the first puff, it is best to flip the cigar around and blow on the cherry. This will show you any areas of the end that are not properly lit. It will alsobgive you a good idea of whether you need to touch up the light again as you move forward.
Blowing on the cherry is an integral part of fixing the issues that drastically impact the cigar smoking experience and kill its flavor. These issues include:
Canoeing – This is when one side of the cigar smoke burns quicker than the other, forming a canoe shape.
Tunnels – This is when the center of the cigar gets the most flame, resulting in a quicker center burn while the sides fail to catch up.
Runners – This occurs when small areas around the wrapper burn down unevenly.
Splitting Ash – When smoking the cigar, you should expect the ash to come down evenly and coherently together. Any split in the ash is an indication of an uneven burn.
Mousehole Burn – This happens when a small hole emerges on the wrapper underneath the ember while you are puffing the cigar.
Ultimately, all of these issues are avoidable if you make sure that the cigar’s foot is evenly lit by ensuring that each area of the foot receives an even amount of heat and flame.
Alternate Ways to Light a Cigar
Whenever you get into a hobby, you always come across a purist. There are cigar connoisseurs that like to stick to certain methods and deem the rest as unremarkable. To their credit, some of their processes actually work. There is not too much rocket science and ritualistic practices when smoking premium cigars that you should pay attention to, except the basic ones discussed above. To the pure cigar smoker, the correct way to light a cigar does not include a lighter.
In your journey as a cigar smoker, you are likely to come across a cigar purist that tries to convince you that matches are the best cigar lighting method. To some extent, there is some credibility to this statement. When using these, you may want to stick to some considerations.
To start, it is better that you use long stem matches, especially if you intend to toast the foot of your cigar before drawing through the end. After you light the match, make sure to let them burn for a second or two. This is because you want to make sure that the flame burns through the sulfur or phosphorous tips at the end of the match. Once the match’s flame color turns yellow, you can use it to toast the foot of the cigar.
Cedar spills give you a purer flame to light the cigar. These are absolutely natural cedar, and they rid cigar purists from the concerns of having butane gas of the lighter and phosphorous ends of a match impact the flavor and aroma of the cigar. One drawback of this is that you need to have another flame source to light them.
The method you choose when lighting the cigar should speak to how concerned you are about the cigar’s flavor. Whichever way you choose, make sure to provide a balanced heat to the head so that you can savor the best flavors that a cigar has to offer