Lighting Your Cigar
Broadleaf Tobacco is a brick and mortar smoke shop in Severna Park, MD. I wrote this tutorial for them.
The Broadleaf Way
Use wood. In the 2004 movie "Hellboy", while the characters are fighting their way through Rasputin's Tomb, Tom Manning (played by Jeffery Tambor) stops Hellboy (played by Ron Perlman) while he's lighting his cigar. Hellboy is getting ready to use what looks like the typical Zippo lighter. Manning tells Hellboy to use a wooden match because the lighter effects the flavor of the cigar. Manning is right in his advice.
Lighter fluids, sulfur and paper matches contain chemicals and contaminants that transfer to the cigar when used. So, here at Broadleaf, when we want to light a great cigar, we use slivers of Spanish Cedar -- we have a cup on hand for our customers in our lounge.
Spanish cedar is the typical wood used in the construction of humidors and cigar boxes. Many manufacturers include thin slices of this cedar in their boxes to separate layers of cigars.
The lighting process is simple. Take a butane lighter, match or other flame source and light the sliver of cedar. Then, use the flaming cedar to light your cigar. Hold the flame to the foot of the cigar while it's in your mouth slowly puff. Twirl the cigar to toast the end evenly as you draw.
The aroma from the burning cedar is sublime -- as is the experience.
Best: Wooden Matches
Again, using wood, lighting your cigar with an old fashioned wooden match is produces the best results. When you can't use a sliver of cedar, wooden matches are the best way to go. Non-sulfur tipped cedar matches are the best choice, but they are hard to find in the US. Regular wooden matches are the next best choice.
Simply light the match and let the sulfur tip burn away -- sulfur will introduce a bad flavor to your cigar that will linger for the whole smoke. Hold the flame to the foot of the cigar while it's in your mouth slowly puff. Twirl the cigar to toast the end evenly as you draw.
Cigar Aficionado has a great video tutorial on using a three match method -- no cutting or drawing until you're ready to smoke.
Better: Torch Lighters
Whether you spend $4.00 on a disposable torch or you lay-out hundreds or even thousands on a top-of-the-line collector model, a butane fueled torch is a great and convenient way of lighting up -- especially in windy environments.
The blue flame produced by most torch lighters reaches about 2500 degrees -- about the temperature of the Sun. Toast the foot of the cigar as you would with a sliver of cedar or match -- make sure not to burn the sides of your cigar though. Twirl the cigar to toast the end evenly as you draw.
Having a torch on hand is a must for every cigar smoker. You can light your cigar directly or use it to light your slivers of cedar The Broadleaf Way. We have a complete line of torch lighters in stock for people in all budget categories.
Also Better: Standard Butane Lighters
The difference between a torch and a butane lighter is in how the fuel is delivered to create the flame. Standard Butane lighters don't force as much fuel through the nozzle of the lighter, so it won't burn as hot. The flame will typically be yellow instead of blue for this reason. Hold the flame to the foot of the cigar and toast the tobacco. While it's in your mouth slowly puff. Twirl the cigar to toast the end evenly as you draw.
Not Recommended : Zippo & Fluid Lighters
While the standard Zippo lighter looks really nice and has become an icon of sorts, the fluid it uses is almost the worst thing you can use to light your cigar. Zippo recently released a torch lighter and there are several aftermarket torch inserts you can use to retrofit your Zippo for a better experience.
You can upgrade your Zippo to butane with a simple swap of the insert to a Z-Plus from Blazer.
Worst: Paper Matches
The sulfur isn't the thing that makes paper matches bad -- it's the paper. You might as well use slices of newspaper to light your cigars -- they have less contaminants in them.
The key to avoiding paper matches is to always be prepared. Carry your own wooden matches or torch lighter with you at all times. However, if you have no choice but to use a paper match, make sure to allow the sulfur to burn away before lighting your cigar.
Even Worse Still: Candles
Don't even bother lighting the cigar if all you have is a candle. The wax infuses it's flavor into your cigar immediately and never leaves throughout your smoke. This goes for kerosene lamps too. Find something combustible and light the first, then light your cigar, if a candle of lamp is all you have available. A hand full of dead leaves rolled tight would be better than your wife's Honeydew/Cucumber Yankee Candle.