How to Light a Cigar

Lighting the Cigar

The foot, or tip, of the cigar should be lit using a long wooden cigar match or a butane lighter.   Avoid candles, paper matches, a stove, and lighters that use lighter fluid (naphtha) because the chemicals and odors can affect the taste of the tobacco.  Never use a lighter with a noxious gas (i.e., a Zippo) to light your cigar.   Noxious gases will impart a chemical taste to your cigar and mar the pleasure of your cigar-smoking experience. The best case scenario, however, is always to use a wooden match.  When using a match, wait until the sulfur burns off before lighting the cigar. The ideal device is a wooden match and the best lighter is a butane lighter.

First, you must “toast” the cigar’s foot.   While this may sound odd, the purpose of toasting is to ignite the outer layers of the tobacco (that’s the binder and the wrapper) that hold the cigar together.   If you just held up a match and began to draw, only the inner tobacco – known as the filler – would ignite.   If that happened, the cigar would burn unevenly and develop a poorly shaped ash.   When a cigar burns unevenly it will not have the same body or taste, often bitter tasting.

toasting your cigarToasting the Foot
So, you need to give the outer portion of your cigar a head start. Hold a match to the outside edge of the foot and rotate the cigar to evenly toast the edge.   If you are using a butane lighter, then start lighting the cigar by holding it at a 45-degree angle over the flame, about three to four inches from the tip of the cigar (depending on the height of the flame you’re using) and rotate the cigar until the foot begins to ignite.  Do not let the flame touch the cigar.  Slowly puff on the cigar while rotating it around the flame with an easy light draw.


properly toasted cigar footProperly Toasted Foot
You’ll observe that the outside wrapper and binder will have a white ash after is was properly toasted.   Just the outer edge of the cigar will have a fine white ash.  Looking directly into the foot of the cigar should look like the ash in the photo.   Depending on your method of lighting your cigar, you will find that a butane lighter does a much better job at achieving a detailed ash like this.   The use of matches often results in a hard time toasting a cigar.   Matches tend to blacken the tobacco while toasting and most matches are rather short causing you to light additional matches to complete the toasting process.


puffing on a cigarLighting the Filler
Next, it’s time to ignite the filler. Use a long wooden match to create a larger flame area so that you can light the entire foot evenly.    If using a butane lighter then once again use the lighter at a 45-degree angle.   Note that direct contact of the butane flame is not necessary, nor recommended.   Place the cigar between your lips.  Then, hold the match (or lighter flame) about a half an inch from the cigar (the flame is drawn in) and rotate the cigar as you draw in air.

Releasing the Draw
When properly lighting and puffing on the cigar a surge of flame should shoot up from the foot of the cigar and a puff of smoke should come from your mouth.  A couple of puffs while lighting and you should have a good complete burn on the foot of the cigar.   Take a look at the foot and make sure the cigar is burning evenly.

blow into your cigarThe Finishing Touch
You can gently blow on the foot to insure a complete lighting. Once the cigar is lit, let it sit for about a minute as the short delay will allow the freshly-lit cigar to stabilize.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully lit your cigar!  ENJOY!!