Lighting a cigar is one of the most crucial processes in enjoying a great smoke. Besides being a perfect opportunity to show off your collection of torches and to see who has the longest… flame, your lighting technique will in large part determine the quality of your cigar smoking experience. I think learning how to light a cigar with a torch lighter is an important step in getting the perfect smoke.
Along with the trim, the initial toasting of your cigar represents the most critical aspect of the ritual of enjoying a fine cigar. Keep in mind that an improper light may result in an uneven burn, a lousy draw and a nasty taste in your cigar.
Let’s start with the proper instrument for the light. There are many tools that have been used to light the foot of a cigar: matches of various kinds, lighters, candles, blowtorches, and even outdoor propane heaters have been used with varying levels of success. For a variety of reasons, the butane torch lighter is my favorite when it comes to the task of lighting my cigars. Butane is colorless, odorless, flavorless and it burns hot. It is also easy to control the flame so you can get the heat exactly where you want it.
No matter what you use to light your smoke, it is very important not to scorch the foot of the cigar. If you char the filler tobacco, you will draw all the soot through the length of the cigar creating that nasty flavor associated with anything that is burnt.
To light your cigar with a torch lighter, first find a place that is relatively free from wind and that is relatively dark. A strong wind can play havoc with your torch flame and, since butane burns so clean, the flame is very difficult to see in broad daylight. Ideally, you should light your cigar out of direct sunlight and in a windless environment.
Light Your Cigar With a Torch Lighter
Next, light your torch and hold the very tip of the flame about a half-inch away from the foot of the cigar. As I said earlier, the torch flame is extremely hot and is the hottest at the very tip, sometimes reaching as high as 2500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is much hotter than a match or a soft-flame lighter. Use the tip of the flame to gently toast the foot of the cigar, kind of like roasting a marshmallow. You want to slowly rotate the cigar so that you heat the foot evenly without charring the foot.
Once you get the tobacco at the edges of the cigar glowing, blow gently on the foot of the cigar to make sure the edges are completely lit, and then (important!) put the cigar in your mouth and blow out through the cigar (i.e., “purging”). This will clear any foul chemicals that were produced if you accidentally over-torched the foot. Then, puff gently while again heating the foot with your torch. At this point you may see flames leaping from the foot of the cigar as you take each puff. Try not to let this get out of hand, you don’t want to scorch the foot of the cigar, so back the flame away from the foot as you continue to gently puff.
When you think you have the cigar well lit, take a look at the foot and blow gently. The perfect light should result in an evenly glowing foot. If the foot is glowing evenly, you can sit back and enjoy your smoke. If the foot seems not fully lit, put your flame over the unlit section and gently toast for a couple of seconds and then repeat the puff and toast routine.