Dos and Don’ts of Lighting Your Cigar with Matches

Lighting a Cigar with Matches


It is fairly well known in the cigar smoking world that a butane lighter is the optimal choice for lighting a cigar. Butane is odorless, is tasteless, and the things that it lacks are exactly the things that make it the most pure choice for smoking something that is all about taste. However, there are times when a torch butane lighter is just not accessible or times when you are ready to smoke a cigar but have run out of fuel. Yet, like Thomas Edison and his most famous invention, you just have to find a light.

Enter matches. Cigar purists will often avoid matches because of the same reasons that they enjoy butane – odor and taste. Matches tend to be sulfur-based, and the dry fuel that allows them to catch fire is not odorless nor is it tasteless. This does not mean that you can’t avoid matches all together, you just have to be a little more patient with them; allowing the sulfur to burn off so that all that is burning is the wood of the match. Just as we don’t throw a steak on the charcoal before it burns grey, we don’t instantly place the fire from a match up to our cigars as we don’t wish to affect the taste.

Patience and Lighting a Cigar with a Match

Picture yourself sitting on your favorite outdoor perch as the sun sets, cool breeze on your face, aged scotch on the rocks in hand – your reward to yourself after a long day of work. You smoothly pull your favorite 9cigars brand out of your jacket pocket and smile as you get ready to enjoy a nice quiet moment amongst friends. While this may or not be your ideal cigar smoking setting, it illustrates that the experience is meant to be enjoyed. Rather than rushing to get your cigar lit with your matches, take some time to enhance its flavor by toasting your cigar first.

To toast your cigar the patient, slow way, start by lighting your match (burning off the sulfur) and allowing the white part of the flame to touch the foot of your cigar. Spin the cigar slowly, watching closely to make sure you have a uniform toast and are preventing scorching. The process may take some practice, but if you hold the cigar at just the right angle you will have a perfect light.

The Three Matches Routine

Cigar Aficionado Executive Editor Gordon Mott described a method of lighting a cigar with matches that closely resembles the above in a story from his youth. Having been invited to the home of a Mexican Press Official (Mott was a foreign correspondent at the time), Mott was taught an interesting technique that involves three matches. Without clipping the cigar, the Press Official instructed Mott to do the above, using long matches to thoroughly and properly toast the cigar. The entire process takes about four minutes, but according to the refined official, it is the only way to light a cigar.

After the third match runs its course, you gently blow on the end, clip the head, blow on the end again, and take a deep draw on the cigar. While this technique may not be ideal for everyone, it emphasizes the culture and value some aficionados have with their smokes.

Your Take

What’s your take on lighting a cigar with matches? Anything you’d add? Anything you think we’re “full of it” on?

Comments (4)

  1. TX-GTO-79

    I’ve used the three match method before. I can’t say it changes the flavor at all but it certainly makes one slow down and concentrate on the light. It helps to relax the mind and prepare you to relax your body into your chair. I usually do this in a cigar lounge or bar. Hard to do outside at home as the wind will typically blow out my match.

    • 9cigars

      Good call about it making one slow down and concentrate.

  2. UP North

    I have to believe Cigars very much predate “Butane Torch LIGHTERS”
    WTF is wrong with you people? Do you think Fidel ever smoked a Cigar lit by anything but a match,General Grant, Groucho Marks and George Burns?
    Lighten the F up! Get a good stick and enjoy!

    • 9cigars

      We think you’re probably right about that Mr. North. We suppose a lot of things predate the good ‘ol torch lighter (including fire). Thanks for stopping by and for the feedback. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply to UP North Click here to cancel reply.