The Biggest Mistake You Can Make While Smoking A Cigar

Cigar smoke bankers
Cigar enthusiasts smoke during the 15th annual Havana Cigar Festival on March 1, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

There’s a lot to think about when you smoke a cigar. But lighting it should be a no-brainer.

The biggest mistake a novice can make when smoking a cigar is to use a Zippo lighter, said Michael Herklots, world-class tobacconist and VP of retail and brand development at Nat Sherman, a cigar emporium in midtown Manhattan

Mangling the head, screwing up the cut  —  those are manageable mistakes. Sparking up the prized cigar with a Zippo on the other hand  —  that’s a catastrophic mistake, Michael told us. 

When a smoker lights his cigar with a Zippo, he’s not 100% sure of the fuel that’s being used. Butane is ok. It’s odorless and free of oil. It won’t jeopardize the integrity or taste of the cigar. 

But some Zippos don’t use butane. They’re a bit more of a wild-card in terms of fuel usage. Some use low-grade, odorous fuels  —  like fuels made by Ronson  —  that will greatly taint your cigar. 

Try not to use candles to light your cigar, either. Herklots warned that any foreign substance entering your cigar is undesirable. A vanilla candle can compromise the taste of your tobacco blend. 

The best way to burn? A basic box of phosphorous matches should get the job done, as will non-aromatic and clean butane lighters.

Herklots suggests asking for a match box, taking two matches, and then lighting them against the striker. Once this is done, place the cigar in your mouth and delicately puff on it while lighting the uncut end. With your free hand, rotate the cigar so it doesn’t light unevenly.

When the outer rim of tobacco begins to glow, you’re good. Blow out the match and enjoy.

The original version of this post was written by Eli Epstein.