How to Light a Cigar: The Art of Lighting a Fine Cigar

There’s almost nothing worse than seeing a cigar newbie light a cigar. It kind of goes something like this:

First, the novice cigar smoker carefully examines the foreign object in his/her hand, wondering which side you light. Psst…it’s the end that’s already cut.

how to light a cigar

Next, the real fun begins when given the opportunity to cut their own cigar. It’s not pretty and it usually ends up looking like a frayed gas station Backwoods cigar after being mutilated by the novice cigar smoker. Hint, don’t cut the cigar below the “cap” of the cigar, that’s what’s holding it together!

Finally, it’s time to light their first cigar (hopefully their first because any self-respecting cigar smoker would educate them on the spot).

Usually, the first mistake that beginning cigar smokers make is with the cigar lighter. They usually pull out their trusty Bic lighter and go to town burning the end of the cigar like it’s a tree branch, ruining the pleasure of the first puff. Instead, they end up with a disgusting, tainted taste in their mouth. What a shame!

Here’s How to Really Cut and Light a Cigar

First things first, you need a good cut on your cigar. Whether that’s a straight cut, a v-cut or a punch, it needs to be cut with a quality cigar cutter with sharp blades.

It’s not a tree trunk so don’t cut your cigar in half. Instead, cut just a bit off the cap of the cigar. That’s the tiny little piece of tobacco leaf that basically keeps the cigar from unraveling. If you cut off too much, you’re going to end up with a cigar that ends up coming apart in your mouth, leaving you chewing and spitting out tobacco. Not a good thing.

Get a Good Butane Torch Lighter for Cigars

Remember our novice cigar smoker in the beginning of this article and his BIC lighter? Well you can forget about using one of those to light a fine cigar (or any cigar really). You need to find a good butane-powered cigar lighter.

We actually just wrote a post about the best cigar lighters here.

Why do you need a specific cigar lighter? Because using a cigarette lighter like a Zippo or BIC is going to impart a nasty aftertaste to your cigar, ruining the natural flavor of the cigar. Butane lighters and torch lighters for cigars are odorless, unlike cigarette lighters that contain lighter fluid that smells like gas and you don’t want to taste gas in your cigar.

Toasting the Tip of the Cigar

Now you’ve got a well-cut cigar, a good torch lighter and some confidence.

The first step to lighting any quality cigar is to “toast” the cigar. That means that you’ll run the end of the cigar very close to the flame of your cigar lighter. Hold the cigar in your hand and gently rotate the flame of your lighter in a circle to lightly toast your cigar. Don’t puff on it yet!

Think of it kind of like toasting marshmallows, you don’t want to stick your cigar directly in the flame so as to not burn it. Instead, you want to gently toast the the tip of your cigar to get it going before putting the cut end in your mouth.

Toasting your cigar before actually putting it in your mouth and lighting it will ensure an even burn throughout your smoke. It also helps to get the full flavor of your cigar on your first puff to your last.

Here’s a good video on how to toast and light a cigar from Cigar Aficionado:

Toast the cigar until you get a sense of the aroma then you’re going to put the cigar in your mouth to finally light it.

Lighting Your Cigar

After you’ve toasted your cigar, place the cigar in your mouth. Now don’t suck on it or lick it, just gently put the cigar between your lips. You’re going to then bring the cigar lighter torch to the end of the cigar while slowly turning the cigar with your fingers as you give it a few puffs to get it lit.

Remember not to inhale cigar smoke! Just gently give it a few puffs and release the smoke out of your mouth as you turn the cigar. Once you get a good draw on the cigar, you’re lit and you can start enjoying your first real cigar!

That Wasn’t Too Hard, Was It?

Now that you know how to properly light a cigar, it opens up a world of amazing cigar flavors and aromas that you can choose from in the future.

Knowing how to properly light a cigar allows you to taste the full flavor of each cigar and not taste a burnt stick like you may have been doing before.