The lighting of a cigar is a special moment. It’s the beginning of 2 hour journey where all is right with the world and the cares of your day disappear. This
moment ritual is one that must be taken seriously, patiently executed and done with precision and care.
In a world of bigger must be better, one phenomenon in the cigar world today are lighters that seem to have like 20 flames. Now I’ll be the first to say that some of the newer, heavier tabletop instruments are downright pretty to look at, but they (in the wrong hands) can cause ugly results to where the feet of our cigars don’t stand a chance against them.
So at this point you’re probably saying, “Justin, what’s the issue as long as I get it lit?” Well let me explain. Too much flame applied to your cigar hurts it. Over-lighting is cigarbuse. The tobacco whisperer in me hears their cries, “Justin, please stop them!” I whisper back, “OK, I’ll write about it and pray they read it!”
Benefits of not applying too much flame to your cigar
- It reduces the risk of uneven burns, canoeing and tunneling. When using a lighter with several impact points, it is easy to completely fry one side of your stick creating issues from the jump. When one side is ablaze and the other is slowly burning, other labor intensive steps must be taken to help them catch up to one another. If you’re spending more time correcting issues than enjoying your cigar, the whole point has been missed.
- When cigars burn too quickly their taste is altered. The well thought out ligas (blends) are not intended to taste like burnt paper…just like steaks are not meant to taste like charcoal ash. The tastes in cigars are meant to be savored and enjoyed. Too much flame (especially when sucked into the body of the cigar when lighting) gets you started on the wrong foot and it may take a long time before the fuel burns off and out, allowing the flavors level. Additionally, the gas that has been sucked into body of the cigar can now start to collect and sit in the head of the cigar, resulting in a burnt, rancid aftertaste.
How we can avoid scorching…especially with a multi-flame lighter
- Toast the foot of the cigar first (with a indirect flame, just enough to blacken the foot) and then wait a few seconds before lighting it around the edges by rotating. Focusing on the binder and wrapper is critical so they can get a head start on the filler. Once the outer leaves are going, the filler will kinda take care of itself, thus increasing your chances of an even burn.
- Tobacco is dry, thin and flammable so it doesn’t take much to start it ablaze. While having several flames looks cool, the more jets there are make it the harder to light with pinpoint accuracy. The key is control, which is why many cigar purest stick with long matches, cedar spills, single-flamed (no more than double) lighters or soft flamed lighters. Try holding your cigar and lighter in front of you while lighting so you can see what’s happening, as opposed to in your mouth and drawing…because while you’re watching one side, the other may be going up like a chimney.
- Another thing to consider is that the more jets you have, the hotter your flame will be. Start off a few inches away, watching the foot to see if the part of the flame you can’t see is igniting your stogie, as the hottest point of your flame is actually the tip. It is not even necessary for the actually flame to come in contact with your cigar, so measure twice and light once.
Similar to the way all clothing shouldn’t be purchased simply because they make it in your size, the fact that they make a cigar torch lighter with 14 flames doesn’t mean you should light your cigar with it. And if you do choose to go with a military grade flame thrower to get your cigar started, use the tips above to ensure that the experience is still an enjoyable one, not a 3-alarm one. Don’t forget to treat your cigar like the delicate work of art it is and respect it by lighting it properly, not like it’s a metal beam and you are a welder. Smoke well!