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Saturday, May 7, 2011

How to light a cigar

How to light a cigar

Occasionally one of my friends will come over to have a cigar. Sometimes, it may be the first time they've ever had a cigar, or they say they don't know how to light a cigar.

Here's a good method - it assumes you have the following hardware:
- a cigar!
- a lighter of some sort (matches, butane torch, other heat source)
- a cigar trimmer (Yes, this is important in order to properly cut the end off. Not using one may damage your cigar.) This method assumes you are not using a punch.

Cutting the cigar
- The goal here is to take off the part of the cigar end without damaging the cigar.
- Take the time to look at the end of the cigar you are going to cut off. If you aren't sure, because sometimes some cigars are closed on both ends, it will be the end near the band (paper label).
- In looking at this, you will see that the side of the cigar runs, in an even side, from the end you will light to the end you are going to cut.
- At the end you are going to cut, it transitions from the straight side to the final rounded end point. This transition area is known as the shoulder.
- Your goal is to cut into the shoulder and remove the end, but still leave a part of the shoulder on the cigar. This will help prevent the cigar from unraveling, so it is a worthwhile goal.
- Using your cigar trimmer, remove the shoulder. Once cut, you want to have an opening that is about 2/3rds open, from the center of the opening, to the shoulder. In other words, as measured from the center of end of the cigar, you want to leave about 1/3rd of the shoulder and remove 2/3rd of the shoulder.
- Once you have made your cut, you can examine it to remove, either with the trimmer or your fingers, any loose tobacco from the end to keep them from getting onto your tongue.

Lighting the cigar
- I like to pre-toast the cigar.
- Extend down at a 45 degree angle. If you aren't sure what this angle is, then using a non-digital clock as an example, from the center of the hands, the cigar would be pointing down to 4:30. It's not critical that this be exact.
- Holding your source of heat, with it ignited, place the end of the cigar just above the top of the open flame. The bottom edge of the cigar should be just above the open flame, so the heat will interact with the cigar edge, then flow up the face of the end of the cigar.
- Slowly rotate the cigar to expose all edges of the cigar to the flame. If it catches fire, then pull the cigar up a little to reduce the amount of heat being applied to the cigar.
- Insert the cigar into your mouth, and adjust to the same angle as previously.
- Place the flame in the same position as before.
- Draw air through the cigar and into your mouth, but not into your lungs or into your throat.
- Continue to rotate the cigar while drawing and maintaining the angle.
- When you feel you have the cigar lit, remove it from your mouth to examine the lit end.
- Blow air onto the end of the lit cigar to examine the lit end - this will make the lit end glow red. Examine it to ensure you have a uniform lit end, all around the end of the cigar.
- If some areas are not red but are dark, those dark areas are unlit, and may make your cigar burn unevenly if not lit. If you have dark areas that aren't lit, then rotate the cigar so these dark areas are at the bottom of the cigar where the flame will be, and ignite these areas using the same methods outlined above. Repeat until you have an even lit end.

- You only draw cigar smoke into your mouth.
- How you draw on the cigar will greatly influence the overall taste of your cigar. You want to draw lightly enough to obtain a good mouthfull of smoke, but without doing it with such vigor that you cause the smoke to be hot.
- If you find your smoke is hot, then you may be drawing too forcefully (the cigar may also not have been stored properly at too low a humidity, which will make a cigar burn hot).
- A good cigar will have uniform ash, and can grow to 1 inch or so. I like to drop mine ashes at about 3/4 inch. To drop your ash, it is easiest to do so after just taking a draw when the end is hot, then tap it over the ash tray - it will fall off.
- if you begin to taste a bitter taste, then your cigar is finished. If it appears you have a lot of cigar left, then it's probably turned bitter because you were drawing too heavily. Trying drawing more gently, and this will help prevent the early build up of tars that make it bitter.

- When you begin to taste a change in the taste of the cigar, it is time to quit that cigar!
- Never grind out your cigar like some do with cigarettes! Always place them onto the ash tray and let them extinguish themselves. Otherwise, you will be greeted with a terrible smell!


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