How to Light a Cigar

How to Light a Cigar

Lighting a cigar takes more time, and thus more patience, than lighting a cigarette.

The simplest way to explain how to light a cigar is to compare it to roasting a marshmallow. You want to roast it, not actually stick it in the flame.

  1. With the cigar in your hand, and not in your mouth, keep the cigar close to the flame without actually touching the cigar to the flame. Keep your cigar out of the flame, with the flame close to the head of the cigar. Do not roast the cigar wrapper.
  2. When roasting the cigar, rotate it so all parts of the tip are roasted equally. Keep going until all of the edges are thinly blackened and there’s a glowing ring all the way around the cigar’s tip.
  3. Raise the unlit end of the cigar to your mouth and take your first puff. The head should burn evenly while you draw your puff. If the head doesn’t burn evenly, take the cigar out of your mouth and touch up the uneven parts with the flame again.

In general, you shouldn’t light your cigar with a flame from a source that could negatively affect the essence of your cigar, such as flames from a candle, a Zippo lighter and other oil-filled lighters, and standard sulfur matches. The lighting methods acan add odd flavors to your smoke. However, they may only last a few puffs.

Many aficionados recommend lighting a cigar with a spill (a strip of cedar). However, it is difficult to use in the wind, compared to butane lighters, and not very transportable compared to lighters. You can also use extra-long sulfurless matches.

Different Ways to Light a Cigar

Torch Lighter

When using a torch lighter, it’s important to know how to hold the flame and place the foot of the cigar near the flame. This way, the cigar will receive indirect heat from the flame and be toastier than if it were placed directly in contact with the flame. A general rule of thumb is to hold a cigar one inch away from the flame with a soft flame. Then, simply hold the light directly over the foot of the stub.

Typical Bic Lighter

To start your cigar smoking experience, you should learn how to light a cigar with a typical Bic lighter. A Bic lighter has a soft flame, which means it moves with wind. A Bic lighter should be used the same was a a torch lighter, but it is more difficult to keep the flame at the right distance from the foot of the cigar. The final result should be a strong red ember at the end of the smoke.


To light a cigar with a cedar spill, light one end on fire and hold it in one hand while holding the cigar in the other. Hold the cedar spill at a slightly downward angle since the flame will burn in an upward direction. Toast the foot of the cigar of the flame as the spill burns.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get cedar spills. You can take the thin cedar sheets from cigar boxes and break them apart to make cedar spills.

Wooden Matches

Wooden matches are better than traditional matches in books for two main reasons. Wooden matches are longer and allow you the time necessary to toast a cigar. Lighting a cigar with traditional matches could require 4 or more matches. The biggest reason to not use traditional matches is that they have sulfur, which would negatively impact the flavor of cigars. Make sure to use sulfurless wooden matches.

FAQs About Lighting Cigars

Why can't you use a regular lighter for cigars?

Yes, regular lighters use butane, so there it is ok to use without worrying about affecting the flavor profile of your cigar. The only issues are that wind affects the flame of a regular lighter (unlike a torch) and the lighter can get hot where your thumb is while toasting the cigar.

Will a Bic ruin a cigar?

Using a Bic lighter will not ruin your cigar. In fact, I use it often simply because my torch lighter runs out of butane. Bic lighters also use butane, so there’s nothing to worry about. 

The only issue I have with using a Bic is the flame is easily affected by wind, unlike a torch lighter.

What is toasting a cigar?

Cigar smokers toast a cigar by holding a flame close to the end of the cigar without letting the flame touch it. The purpose is to warm all three components of the cigar: the filler, the binder, and the wrapper. The majority of the flavor comes from the wrapper. 

Take your time toasting the cigar, rotating the cigar in your hand to ensure it is being evenly toasted. Without proper toasting, only the filler will be ignited.

After the foot of the cigar is toasted, you should take a draw from the cigar and the entire end should turn bright red.

Can you use a Zippo to light a cigar?

We advise to never use a Zippo to light your cigar. Yes, you can light a cigar with a Zippo, but you shouldn’t. The flame’s odor will have a negative effect on the flavor of your cigar.

Are butane lighters bad for cigars?

Butane lighters are not bad for cigars. In fact, many aficionados prefer butane lighters.

Do you need a cigar lighter to light a cigar?

No. You don’t need a cigar lighter to light a cigar. If you are spending significant money on your cigars, you might want to carefully consider what you use to light your cigar, since you made introduce bad flavors if you use specific lighters or fire sources.