Written by James Payne

Friday, 30 January 2009

User Rating: / 3

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zippo  At first glance, the title of this article has no doubt confused some of you, particularly those new to the smokeable delicacies. In fact, even some die hard veterans 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. 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.

Often, you will see people bring out a cigar, lovingly sniff it from tip to tip, carefully excise the tip, brag about how much the cigar cost, or delve into some story about how it was hand-rolled by a model from the last remaining tribe of Ungarte Indians, who descended from Cuba and used her virginic thigh, her sweat smelling of the sweetest perfumes, to roll the cigar. Then that same person, with an air of smugness, will take out a Bic he purchased at the local Chevron for pocket change, and light up.

Tools of the Trade

Maybe in the above scenario, the smoker may not have even noticed a difference. But chances are, had he experimented and researched a little (and thus used a proper fire), he would have enjoyed his cigar even more. In this article, we are going to look at the tools available to light your cigar, and uncover the pros and cons of each one. We’ll start with the basic cigarette lighter, as used in the previous example.

Cigarette Lighters and Lighter Fluid

There are two types of cigarette lighters: ones that use lighter fluid, and ones that user butane. In this section we will discuss the ones that use lighter fluid. If you ever played with your father’s old Zippo lighter as a kid, or ever lit your firecrackers with the garden variety lighter you can pick up at a convenience store, then you have probably noticed the smell associated with them. It is a pretty pungent odor, not unlike that of kerosene.

Most cigar experts and those in the know would tell you to never use a lighter fluid cigarette lighter. The reason is pretty simple, and probably self-evident: the cigar will take on the chemical taste of the lighter fluid.

It won’t completely ruin the cigar mind you. After a few minutes, the taste will be gone. And if it is a good cigar, it will still be a good cigar. But really, think of the cigar as a nice cut of beef. A few spices here and there may be okay, but the cut should really speak for itself. And if they chef has a heavy hand with the pepper, it might not ruin it, but it certainly is noticeable.

There are tricks to get around the light fluid dilemma. One is to light the lighter, then wait a few seconds for the initial chemicals to burn off. Next, hold the cigar near the flame, but never place it directly onto it. This way the tobacco will light from the nearby heat, but not absorb the chemicals.

Lighters that use fluid are tempting. They come in so many varieties, and nothing looks quite as cool as flipping open an old Zippo lighter and having the big flame shoot up. End in the end, you will have to experiment to see if you notice the chemical taste, and if the pros outweigh the cons on this one.


0 # James Payne 2009-01-28 09:11
Hi and welcome back. In this article we discuss the methods - and tools - used to light your cigar. It truly does make a difference. Have a favorite lighter? Share it with us!

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+2 # Bic?pipesandgop 2009-01-29 14:20
Just sort of wondering since you talk so lowly of the guy using a Bic lighter to light the cigar he's bragging about, then tout the advantages of a butane lighter... why do that when Bic's use butane fuel? Who knows, maybe the guy's just more into looking at his cigar than his lighter?
Bic's do burn reasonably clean, and do burn butane. The lighter pictured on page 2 at the end of the cigarette lighter section however is a type notorious for an incredibly foul smell, even if you just hold down the button to let the gas out.
Granted a Bic may not be part of the 'puff lifestyle', but it's clean burning, it is the butane you brag so much about in the article and that is the widely accepted medium for lighting a cigar when one opts out from using a wood match, and most importantly, although it might not be stylish, it gets the job done.

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0 # Slips!Mikael Taylor 2009-01-30 19:49
You forgot to mention cedar slips, my man! Not the most practical of things when out and about, but if you keep a stash at the house, I've come to find(since my whole Lighting Questions post over at the forums) that it really tastes very pleasant, and tends to lend a bit to the romantic qualities of sitting alone outside, watching the night sky, and smoking your favorite cigar.

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0 # Cliff 2009-01-30 21:16
I have become a fan of using matches to light a cedar spill. A cedar spill is a long, thin piece of Spanish cedar, usually from a cigar box divider, that is considered a preferred lighting method. A spill imparts a nice little cedar flavor to the cigar, and is an elegant way of lighting a smoke.

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+1 # Tom Del Conte 2009-01-31 06:54
Good Article, just wanted to add a little clarification. The article said that butane lighters are not allowed on flights. That is partially correct. Torch type lighters such as the Blazer or Colibri models are in fact banned as carry on and not allowed through the checkpoint. Bic and Zippo types are. This rule changed about a year ago. Lighters are not allowed in check baggage unless they are packaged in a specially approved DOT (Department of Transportation) container that can be obtained in smoke shops and on line. The container is made of a plastic or PVC type of material and has a screw type lid to it making it relatively air tight. It looks similar to the device that swimmers use to put cash or ID or keys in that is water tight to protect those items when at the pool or beach. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain. So, to summarize, Bic type butane or Zippo type are OK as carry on, Torch types are prohibited. In checked baggage all lighters are prohibited unless properly contained in a DOT approved container. Hope this helps. Tom D. a cigar smoking TSA officer.

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0 # St.Pat68 2014-03-13 09:59
I am glad that I read this, I would hate to lose a good torch lighter. I realize this post is 5 years old now but if you have any new information on TSA regulations and smoking let me know. Tom, I met a fellow in my small town who has a son-in-law that works for the TSA. He sends the guy premo cigars all of the time, I believe a lot of them go to waste. Sniff, sniff. :sad:

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0 # Christopher R 2009-01-31 08:53
Great article. I use wooden matches at home and in the car. When out and about on foot however, I find a cheap Bic to be better than nothing. I too thought that the Bics burned butane.

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+2 # James Payne 2009-02-09 11:55
Hey Guys,

Thanks for joining the discussion. I guess I did come off as a bit of an anti-Bic snob...and I definetly do like the look of certain lighters! Don't get me wrong, if all I have is a Bic, I won't turn it down. I recently tried a spill (after I wrote this article unfortunately) and enoyed it. A shame I hadn't tried it prior, as it would have been a nice thing to include.

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