5 Ways to Light a Cigar

To smoke you need fire, but not all fire is suitable for a cigar. For a cigar you need a source that is neutral in flavour. So a gasoline lighter, such as the traditional zippo, are out of the question. I know, some people will say that they don’t taste the difference when lighting a cigar with a traditional Zippo, but that says all about their palate and nothing about the lighter. A candle is also not suitable, as the paraffin isn’t odourless or flavourless. Butane is the way to go, and good news for Zippo lovers, there are inserts available that turn your Zippo into a butane lighter so you can enjoy that classic Zippo sounds without destroying your cigar.

Jet flame

The most common way to light your cigar nowadays is a torch, aka jet flame. You have them in all shapes and sizes, with one, two, three, and four jets. In our opinion, one jet is enough. The advantage of a jet flame is that it works under all conditions, Lighting a cigar outside, when there is a breeze, is no problem. Or inside, when there is a draft, also no problem. But there is also a downside to the jet flames. The temperature of the flame is much higher than with the other options, so the risk of charring your cigar and negatively influence the flavour is pretty high. That’s why Inspector X feels that anything over one jet is overkill, unless you smoke those ring 70 or bigger monsters. And keep in mind, the hottest part of the flame is right above what you can see, so don’t let the flame touch the cigar.

Soft Flame

Did you know that this type of lighter outdates the match stick? And to be honest, it is my favourite way of lighting a cigar when I smoke indoors. The temperature of the flame is much lower and softer than a jet flame, without the limited burn time of a match. For me, this is the way to go. I have a vintage Ronson lighter that I use, but honestly, any soft flame lighter with butane will work. Even a simple Bic lighter is perfectly suitable to light a cigar under the right conditions, and with that I mean, in a wind-free location.

Matches

Matches are made of neutral wood and therefore are suitable for cigars. Especially the longer ones, often called cigar matches. But it takes practice, lighting a cigar with a match can be a painstaking exercise in less than perfect conditions when it comes to drafts and wind, and often you need more than one match to get your cigar lit correctly. Make sure to burn of the sulphur first, as that can taint your cigar. So don’t light the match and immediately hold it under your cigar but wait until the sulphur is gone and the flame comes from the wood.

Cedar wood

A very stylish way to light your cigar is a strip of cedar wood. Now you might go “you keep talking about odourless and flavourless, but cedar isn’t odourless nor flavourless” and you are right. But cedar is a flavour that matches well with cigars, and therefore cedar strips are perfectly suitable to light a cigar. Light a strip if cedarwood with any type of flame, and then use the cedar strip to light your cigar. It has all the advantages of a soft flame and a match combines, and since these strips are usually much longer than a match, it doesn’t have the disadvantage. It is also less prone to be killed by draft. A few companies sell cedar strips, but you can easily make these strips yourself from the cedar sheets that you find in many cigar boxes. Just avoid the ones with a painted logo on the sheets as the paint might taint your cigar.

Electronic lighter

Honestly, I have no experience with the electronic lighters such as the Xikar XFlame or the Fuego Electric Lighter, but they are an option if you’re looking for a cigar lighter. Electricity heats a coil, and you can use that coil to light your cigar. It’s a modern adaptation of the vintage car lighters. And I did use the car lighter in the past. My experience with the car lighter is that it’s easy to light your cigar, but when you need to relight or correct your burn, you have a problem. Fuego offers a tool; with that tool you can remove ash and debris so you can relight the cigar but to me that seems like a lot of extra work. It also doesn’t solve the issue when you need to correct a crooked burn. But on the other hand, you can light a cigar in any weather with this tool as there is no flame and wind does not have any effect on the heating coil. I might have to invest in an electronic lighter and give it a try before I pass judgement.

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