How to Light a Cigar

June 22, 2015

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 tobacco.

When using a match, wait until the sulfur burns off before lighting the cigar. The ideal device is a wooden match and the best cigar lighter is a butane lighter.

Start lighting a 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.

Never let the flame touch the cigar, slowly puff on the cigar while rotating it around the flame.

Take a look at the foot and make sure the cigar is burning evenly. You can gently blow on the foot to ensure complete lighting. Once the cigar is lit, let it sit for a minute as the short delay will allow the freshly-lit cigar to stabilize.

First, you must “toast” the cigar’s foot. Sounds odd, but 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 (we’ll explain why that’s a problem in a moment).

A smartly dressed man enjoys a lit cigar.

How to Toast 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.

You’ll observe the outside wrapper and binder will have a white, ashen aspect after they’ve been properly toasted.

How to Light the Filler

Next, it’s time to ignite the filler. Use a long wooden match to create a larger flame area so you can light the entire foot evenly. Place the cigar between your lips. Then, hold the match about half an inch from the cigar (the flame is drawn in) and rotate the cigar as you draw in the air.

Releasing the Draw

When you release the pressure of inhalation (you don’t actually inhale, but you know what we mean), a surge of the flame should shoot up from the foot of the cigar and a puff of smoke should come from your mouth.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully lit your cigar!

How to light a cigar with a butane lighter

Lighting a cigar with a torch lighter (the best cigar lighter in my opinion) can be a little tricky, so make sure to pay close attention to the following video. By following the step-by-step instructions set by Nick, or the ones below, you will ensure a great light and even burn:

  1. Hold the cigar a few inches from the lighter, with the tip of the flame hitting the foot.
  2. Rotate the lighter around until the entire foot has been lit.
  3. Place the cigar in your mouth and begin to puff while you keep rotating the lighter around the foot.
  4. Ensure the entire foot of the cigar is now lit and then enjoy your cigar.

How to refill a butane lighter

There’s nothing quite like lighting a cigar with your favorite butane torch, but this great feeling also comes with the price of refilling your lighter. The process of refilling a butane torch is one of the most commonly asked questions among consumers.

It’s a sad fact that many cigar smokers get frustrated with their torches and toss them away. We’ll show you the proper way of filling so your lighter works every time.

Follow the steps below or watch the video to find out how to properly refill your butane lighter so that it works every time:

  1. Hold the lighter right side up.
  2. Using a small instrument, either a paper clip or a tiny screwdriver, press down on the gas nozzle on the lighter to release any access to fuel or air. Keep pressing until you no longer hear air coming out.
  3. Once it’s empty, hold the lighter upside down and place the fuel can nozzle in the lighter nozzle.
  4. Press down on the fuel can for about 5-7 seconds.
  5. Wait about 30 seconds for the fuel to warm up, then press down halfway on the ignition button to ensure the fuel is in the lighter. Then fully press the button to make sure it sparks a flame.

How to light a cigar with matches

Sometimes when you don’t have your zippo or torch at hand, you find yourself turning to good old traditional matches.

The technique is very similar to the information provided above, but here is a step-by-step guide for lighting your cigar with wooden matches:

  1. Light the match by striking it on the side of the matchbox. After it’s lit, hold the match with the head point down for 1-2 seconds to ensure it’s lit.
  2. Place the cigar in your mouth and hold the lit match up to the foot of the cigar.
  3. While puffing on the cigar to ensure it’s lit, rotate the cigar slowly to ensure the fire hits every part of the foot.
  4. After the cigar is fully lit, blow out the match and enjoy your cigar.

How to light a cigar with a Zippo lighter

Many cigar smokers prefer to light their smokes with butane lighters, which provide a much hotter and more accurate flame.

However, other cigar smokers love to light their favorite sticks with Zippo lighters, citing their near unmatched reliability. What’s more, Zippo lighters inspire a special kind of nostalgia that many smokers just love to indulge in.

When you’re lighting your cigar with a Zippo, let the wick burn for a moment or two. This wait allows the fuel residue to burn off so that it won’t affect the taste of your cigar:

  1. Toast the bottom of the cigar with the flame
  2. Rotate the cigar as you go to ensure an even light
  3. Take your first puff
  4. Draw on the cigar at a careful pace
  5. Touch up uneven areas if needed

How to re-fuel a zippo lighter

Much like a butane lighter, a Zippo lighter also needs refueling on a fairly regular basis. Refueling a Zippo lighter is a careful process, which many smokers consider to be an art.

  1. Remove the lighter from the casing
  2. On the bottom material that says “lift to fill” place a pen or small object in the center hole and lift it up
  3. Open your zippo fuel and fill the cotton underneath the lift to fill material
  4. Fill until the top of the cotton is wet
  5. Place the material down again and wipe the lighter down with a paper towel
  6. Insert lighter back into the casing


How to use a Zippo wick

Another maintenance job on a Zippo center around the wick, which will need replacing when it starts burning out. Check out our step-by-step guide, here:

  1. Remove the Lighter from its casing
  2. Unscrew the spring-loaded holder
  3. Using needle-nose pliers, remove all the cotton in the lighter
  4. Using the pliers, pull out the old wick
  5. Insert the new wick through the top of the lighter
  6. Once inserted about an inch, use pliers to pull the rest of the wick through
  7. Make sure the top of the wick is level with the outer metal shell
  8. Push cotton back into place, and screw in the spring-loaded holder
  9. Insert the lighter back into the casing

How to Look After a Burning Cigar

Technical Note

Never use a lighter with a noxious gas (i.e., a Zippo) to light your cigar, although a butane lighter is acceptable. 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.

Letting the Ash Burn

Most premium handmade cigars (those costing from $3 to $30 each) will hold a very long ash before falling off. The ash on cheaper cigars tends to flake easily and fall off more frequently.

Properly grown and maintained cigar tobacco will have a whiter ash than the sometimes very gray ash produced on lower-quality cigars.

While some smokers like to see how long the ash on a cigar can grow before falling off by itself – keep in mind when in a public place where cigar smoking is permitted, or at a party, you don’t want cigar ashes to fall on your clothes, a floor, or a rug.

It’s always wise as you see the ash starting to gain length to gently tap it off.

Do you Keep the Cigar Band on a Burning Cigar?

It’s mostly a personal decision when opting to take a cigar band off or leave it on while smoking one’s favorite cigar.

Some say that leaving the band on promotes conversation among cigar smokers, while others say it’s a showy thing to do that displays a lack of proper cigar etiquette.

If you do decide to remove the cigar band, make sure you let the cigar heat up before taking it off as the heat from the cigar will help loosen the glue that holds the band on.

Remember too, that taking the band off some brands of Cuban cigars (even after heating), like the Montecristo Cigars, is very difficult and can result in damage to the cigar wrapper.

Relighting a Cigar

Perhaps some of the most overlooked aspects of cigar smoking are relighting and extinguishing cigars. On the subject of relighting, cigars, by nature, will go out if not puffed on every few minutes, so relighting a fresh cigar isn’t a problem.

While some contend you can save a partially smoked cigar for more than 24 hours, it’s best to avoid relighting a cigar that hasn’t been smoked in more than two hours.

When relighting a cigar, hold the flame in front of the foot and blow out to help expel any old gases or ash that may have become trapped in the cigar. After that, follow standard lighting procedures.

To extinguish a cigar, just let it go out by itself in a cigar ashtray. Stubbing-out a cigar produces a stale odor that can linger in a room. Once you’re sure your cigar is out, dispose of it in a safe manner.

A smartly dressed man enjoys a lit cigar.


5 responses to “How to Light a Cigar”

  1. Señor Clean says:

    Oh, so that is what that pile of long matches are. Well, looks like it’s time to break out the cubans.

  2. Barantos of ReCon says:

    From where?

  3. Wow, it’s interesting that if you don’t light a cigar properly, you could affect the taste of the tobacco. Personally, I haven’t tried a cigar, but my dad and my grandfather enjoy them. And so, I’ve been researching all about cigars, and I found interesting all the special steps and cares they need. I think I might try them out sometime. I appreciate you helping me learn more about how to light and put out a cigar properly.

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