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Cutting and Lighting a Cigar

While both cutting and lighting of a cigar is a tool/hand exercise, it is also an experience to be enjoyed and anticipated. A cigar is a thing of beauty. Many are hand-made, often touched by over a 100 hands of various workers that offer you this cigar for your enjoyment.

Before you cut and light the cigar, take a minute to examine it. Note the color, shape, and texture. And especially take in the aroma! A good cigar has the aroma of the earth that it came from. The pleasure is not just in smoking the cigar.

A cigar should be cut so as to just remove the very top of the cap – typically two layers of tobacco leaf. The objective is to remove just enough of the cap to produce an easy draw while smoking without damaging the wrapper where it meets the cap. A good cut will still have a slight dome between the cap and the side of the cigar.

Cigar cutters come in a number of different models, including single and double-blade, punch and scissor-style. Each has a following, and they will all claim that their way is the best. The “best” cut is one that you are comfortable with and can execute easily and consistently.

The Punch:
A simple small hole is punched in the cap of the cigar. This type of cut tends to cause the least damage to the cap. Punches are offered with different size holes to accommodate different cigar ring gauges. The punch style cutter is not practical on some cigar shapes such as torpedoes, bellicose and figurado.

The Guillotine Cut:
This style cutter surgically removes the cap leaving a small round opening. It can be in the form of a single-blade, double-blade, stationary model or scissor style. Typically, this is the easiest cut to master, but attention is required so as to not remove too much of the cap.

The “V” Cut:
The cutter slices a v-shaped groove across the cap. To execute properly, the user needs a shape cutter and a steady hand since the possibility of damaging the cap is high if not done correctly. In some situations, the cap end can unravel and expand.

Whatever method is employed, the quality of the cutter is very important! Inexpensive cutters are not cost effective, since the quality of the blade is typically not for long-term use. The blades will quickly dull, and the cut on the cigar uneven and jagged. The cost of a good-quality cutter is money well spent.


Lighting a cigar properly ensures a pleasurable smoke. To begin with always use a butane lighter (preferably a dual or triple flame), or a cedar match. Avoid using a fluid-type lighter (a Zippo for example), or paper matches as these can impart odors to the cigar. Remember to be patient! Nothing spoils the enjoyment of a good cigar faster than a badly lit cigar. Take your time and enjoy!

Toasting the Foot:
Hold your cigar at a 45 degree angle slightly above the tip of the flame of your lighter. Slowly twist or rotate the cigar until all parts of the foot are evenly charred.

Place the cigar to your lips, continue to apply the flame to the foot of the cigar and slowly draw on the cigar until the cigar is lite. It may be necessary to “touch-up” the foot to ensure an even burn.

As the cigar is smoked, an ash will form on the foot. The length of the ash varies, and at the appropriate time, the ash should be gently removed. This can most easily by accomplished by a gentle tap of the cigar on the rim of the ashtray.

If your cigar goes out, it can be re-lite. Gently remove any ash form the foot, and proceed with lighting the foot. Cigars will go out if not attended to, this is normal. Try to avoid long periods of time with the cigar “out”, as this will result in bitterness when you re-light.  For maximum pleasure, allow a sufficient amount of time to enjoy your cigar. Letting the cigar go out, and then re-lighting is not as pleasurable as enjoying it in one sitting.


Cigars will extinguish themselves if left un-attended. Do not crush the cigar in the ashtray to put it out, just leave it in the ashtray and it will extinguish on its own.




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