by guest blogger David F. Cline
Tools and Tips
So – you’re on the fourth tee, you’ve played well so far, and you decide to light up a cigar to celebrate your success. You select a cigar from your bag, use your cutter to nip off the cap, then prepare to light. And from your pocket, you pull … what? Paper matches? No!
Veteran cigar smokers have learned to never light cigars with matches, unless it really is all you have. Why? Many reasons, but mostly for taste. When you light a match, small bits of sulfur burn, causing sulfur dioxide. If you use a match to light your smoke, do you really want to mark the taste with a whiff of sulfur dioxide? I didn’t think so.
Go to your friendly cigar shop and invest in a butane lighter. They run anywhere from $10 on up, and are quite reliable. Also, get a tank of butane fuel, and refill when necessary. My lighter has three flames, and even on a windy day, it provides me with an easy light. Also, on the golf course, using a lighter allows you to close it put it back in your pocket. With matches … well, do you want to carry burnt matches around until you find a trash can? Again, I didn’t think so.
Now, in a pinch, you could use wooden matches. Some companies – in fact, some cigar stores – offer them, which are better. It may take you a few matches to get your cigar adequately lit, but in a pinch, they will serve the purpose.
So the time has come to light up. I had been smoking cigars for several years before I learned how to properly light a cigar – and the first cigar I lit properly tasted and burned better than any other before it. Here’s what you do:
1. Prepare the cap either by removing it with a cigar cutter or punching it. I prefer the cutter; I can never seem to get a wide enough opening with a punch.
2. Keep the band on! I know it is tempting to remove it – it always is for me – but you risk damaging the wrapper. Let the cigar burn for 15-20 minutes before you carefully remove the band.
3. Hold the cigar away from you, and without puffing, light and burn around the foot of the cigar about 1/4 –inch all the way around. This will also help light the end of the cigar – a process called toasting.
4. When the toasting is complete, place the cigar in your mouth, and rotate it over the flame while gently puffing a few times. Within 10-20 seconds or so, your cigar should be adequately lit. At that time, lightly blow on the lit end of the cigar – that will help it burn more evenly.
I hope these tips help. I would like to hear any suggestions or thoughts you might have – and please feel free to ask questions, too. Next time, I will talk about where and how to buy.