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How to Light Your Cigar

At first glance, the title of this article has no doubt confused some of you.  Those new to the leaf are wondering just what is so darn hard about it. In fact, even some veterans of the leaf may have risen an eyebrow.  However, learning to properly light your cigar and what tools to use is a key ingredient to your overall experience and most importantly your enjoyment.  It can determine not only the flavors you taste (or do not taste as you soon will learn), but also how well your cigar holds up. So if you want to learn how not to make your cigar (literally) go up in smoke, keep on reading.


Respected tools of the trade are wooden matches, cedar spills, and butane lighters.  Never use candles, paper matches, a stove, or lighters that use lighter fluid because these fire sources all produce chemicals and odors that can affect the taste of the tobacco.  When using a match, wait until the sulfur tip burns off before lighting your cigar. 


First, you must "toast" the cigar's foot. Sounds strange, but the purpose of toasting is to ignite the outer layers of the tobacco that hold the cigar together. If you just held up a match and began to draw, only the inner tobacco would ignite. If that happened, the cigar would burn unevenly and develop a poorly shaped ash.  Some smokers refer to this as “canoeing.”


To toast the foot, hold your cigar at a 45-degree angle over the flame.  Avoiding direct contact with the flame (think marshmallows over a camp fire), hold your cigar approximately 1 inch away and slowly rotate the cigar until the foot begins to ignite.  You will observe that the outside wrapper and binder will develop a white ashen look once they have been properly toasted.


Next, it is time to ignite the filler.  Place the cigar between your lips and slowly puff on the cigar while still rotating it about the flame.  If properly toasted, this part should not take long depending on the cigars ring gauge and what type of fire you are using.  When you release the pressure of you puffing, a surge of flame should shoot up from the foot of the cigar and a puff of smoke should come from your mouth.  Take a look at the foot and make sure it is burning evenly.  You can gently blow on the foot to insure complete lighting. Once the cigar is lit, let it sit for a minute as the short delay will allow the freshly-lit cigar to stabilize.


Congratulations! You have successfully lit your cigar!  Sit back and enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures!

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