With all lighting techniques, it is important to NOT allow the flame to touch the tobacco. Keep the fire just close enough so that your draw will bring the heat to the foot of the cigar or tobacco in your pipe. Twirling and slowly drawing on the cigar will light the foot without charring it and altering the tobacco's natural flavor.
CEDAR STRIPS (a.k.a. SPILLS)
Spanish cedar strips, also known as spills, are the most romantic, if not practical, method for lighting cigars. The strips can be procured from the dividers many cigar makers use for packaging. Most Tobacconists will simply give these dividers away to their customers at no charge. Cedar strips can be made by folding the divider to desired width and tearing it at the seam. The aroma and allure of using the cedar strip to light the foot of a cigar adds ceremony and panache to a potentially mundane ritual.
Not all matches are created equal.
Wooden matches are preferable for cigar and pipe lighting because they will burn longer and broader than cardboard. With any match, it is crucial to let the sulfur (and other chemicals) burn away before taking the flame to the tobacco. Luxury matches (as shown below) can be found with extra long cedar shanks. Long matches are not only elegant, but very useful when lighting a cigar with a large ring gauge.
BUTANE: TRADITIONAL FLAME
Traditional flame lighters emit a "soft" flame, like that of a match. They are available in a wide range of quality and price points, from inexpensive disposables to the world's most expensive and sophisticated lighter brands. Butane lighters come in a multitude of styles, including flint, battery & Piezo ignition, disposable, refillable, traditional flame, burner and torch varieties. (See Butane Lighter Maintenance.)
Originally the first "wind-proof" lighters used a super-heated coil or metal "burner" (as pictured here) to ignite tobacco products. This system is nearly impervious to wind, but very susceptible to clogging and damage because the burner is made of delicate metal wires. Lighting is a slow process with these lighters, unless they are enhanced with a traditional flame. The burner lighter is excellent for small ring gauge cigars or during wind storms, but may not be vigorous enough to light larger cigars on a regular basis.
Today, torches are the most popular lighter for cigar smokers, probably because they are quick and precise. Pressurized butane is responsible for the unique “torch” lighter which emits a super-hot pointed flame. Torch lighers are beloved for their power and quickness. Due to their precision, they are also especially handy for "touching up" cigars that are burning unevenly. While the “torch” flame is ideal in windy conditions, it is not suitable for pipe smoking because it will damage the briar.
Modern lighters come in many varieties; this section includes lighters with multiple functions and/or flame types. A combination lighter can have a burner and traditional flame, a cutter/punch, or other unique features.
Any traditional flame lighter is suitable for pipe smoking. Specialized pipe lighters emit a flame at a 45° or 90° angle instead of vertically out the top. For more information see thePipe Accessories section.
Liquid fuel lighters, like the one pictured here, may be the most reliable of all lighters. The instrument's simplicity yields a reliable lighter that rarely fails or breaks. Liquid fuel lighters use a wicking system (much like a "Tiki" torch) and flint ignition to create a traditional flame. Both the flints and wicks will need to be replaced over time. Their down side of a liquid fuel lighter is that it may impart its flavor onto the tobacco and your palate.
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