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How to Light a Cigar Properly (not like in the movies)

Posted by Joe Box on

Lighting your cigar is one of the most important things you do before smoking a cigar. Discover the Do’s and Don’t’syou need to know when lighting your cigar.

It looks cool but you’re ruining your cigar experience….

You see it in the movies all the time; guy or gal goes to light their cigar, puts the cigar in their mouth, lifts the lighter to the cigar, ignites the lighter and takes a few huge puffs on the cigar…..

Bad, Bad, Bad!

The Most Important Thing Before Lighting A Cigar

Lighting your cigar is by far the most important part of the preparation of your cigar. It’s really, really important to take your time with this. The biggest mistake that I constantly see people making with their cigar, is incorrectly lighting it.

Take your time and you will maximise your enjoyment.

The correct lighting has a dramatic effect on the flavour and the taste of the cigar. The first thing you need to realise is that ‘heat’ is the enemy to the flavour of the cigar. So, the more heat that you actually put into the cigar the more bitterness you're going to get towards the middle and the end of the smoking experience.

Once you know this, you will realise the worst thing you can do in smoking your cigar is to put the cigar to your mouth, put the flame to the cigar and then draw an intense amount of heat through it. This is particularly so with jet flame lighters .

Why Heat is the Key to Lighting a Cigar

The key to lighting the cigar is using the heat of the flame rather than the flame itself to completely char the end of the cigar, and fully light it before you place it to your lips. This is going to ensure a cool smoke and a more flavoursome cigar .

So here’s the best way to do this is;

First, ignite your lighter. I normally recommend using a jet flame lighter. It’s the easiest and quickest way to light your cigar, but remember to take your time with the lighting. You're going to smoke a cigar for an hour or two depending on how long the cigar is. So, taking an extra minute or two when lighting the cigar will ensure your smoking experience is greatly enhanced.

So after you ignite the lighter, move the cigar closer to the lighter on a 45 degree angle. This makes sure the actual flame is not touching the cigar. The aim is to transfer the heat of the flame, rather than striking the cigar with the flame itself.

Having the flame on a 45 degree angle to the cigar ensures that the heat of the flame is not shooting straight down the length of the cigar and putting enormous amounts of heat into it.

By gently charring the end of the cigar with the lighter perched on a 45 degree, means it's going to take a few seconds for the cigar to start lighting up. But don't worry about this. Maintain the same distance from the cigar and use the heat of the flame, rather than the flame itself .

Then, slowly rotate the heat of the flame around the outside of the edge of the cigar and work your way into the middle. You want to make sure that the cigar is fully lit all the way around and before puffing on the cigar.

Taking your time to char the end of the cigar, you can check to see that it is fully lit in one of a couple of different ways.

Firstly, turn the cigar around and gently blow on the end of the cigar. This way you will know if the cigar is not fully lit by the black spots you see on the edge of the cigar. The whole end of the cigar should be grey or burning red.

The second way, which is a method used when lighting someone else’s cigar, is what we call the ‘Cigar Wave’. That is, gently pushing air through the cigar by waving the cigar downwards in an arc-like fashion. This simulates drawing on the cigar, as air is pushed through the cigar as it’s waved.

If you now have a look at the cigar you can see whether it's fully lit. If the cigar looks fully lit at this point in time, you can go ahead and either place it in your mouth, or hand the cigar to the person you are lighting it for.

Cigar Smoking Do’s &Don’t’s


  1. Never draw on your cigar whilst putting the flame to the cigar.
  2. Never use a lighter which uses lighter fluid such as a zippo. This has an almost kerosene- like taste to it and will definitely taint the flavour and taste of the cigar.
  3. Never use something like a candle to light the end of a cigar. The wax in the candle will again taint the flavour and taste of the cigar, and will ruin the whole smoking experience .



  1. Ignite the lighter before taking it to the cigar.
  2. Use the heat of the flame, rather than the flame itself.
  3. Have the lighter on a 45 degree angle to the cigar .
  4. Using the heat of the flame to completely char the end of the cigar until it ignites, making sure the cigar is fully lit and no black spots are showing on the edge of the cigar. Use the heat of the flame to work your way all the way to the middle.
  5. Once you think the cigar is fully lit, turn the cigar around and gently blow on the end of the cigar to check that it is fully lit.
  6. If the cigar is fully lit, place the cigar to your mouth and have a long gentle puff and enjoy.


Joe Box - Your Brother of the Leaf

PS:Just in case you cheated and scrolled all the way to the bottom…don’t stuff it up…here are 6 DO’s and 5 DON’T’S - follow them for max smoking experience…

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