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When preparing to cut your cigar, closely examine the "head" - this is the closed end of
the cigar that you will clip. Most cigars have what is called a "cap" - a bit of tobacco leaf used to close
of the end. Inspect the cigar to determine how far down the length of the cigar the cap goes (this is
usually 1/4" - 3/8" sometimes less, and on figurado shapes, sometimes longer). Where the cap stops is your
cutting limit. If you cut beneath the cap, or even too close to the bottom of it, your cigar may start to
The goal is to cut as little of the cigar as possible while creating an opening
approximately 75%-85% of the width of the end. This might mean cutting as little as 1/32" down or as much as
3/8" - it depends on the cigar's roll and cap.
When using a guillotine cutter, line up your cigar at eye level and clip it quickly. This
method will almost always guarantee a clean, straight cut.
A punch cutter, although not really a "cutter", is easy to use, makes a perfectly round
opening, and negates the problem of how much to clip.
Another popular option is a V-Cut clipper. Cap length isn't a concern here, as the smoker
rests the cigar against the clipper while it takes out a v-notched shaped bit of tobacco of the same size
Cigar scissors are elegant, but difficult to use and hard to carry around. Other more
personal methods include razor blades, Swiss Army or pocket knives, or even your teeth. Ultimately, clipping
your cigar is a matter of what works best for you.
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Is there a special, approved method to lighting a cigar that all smokers should
use? This question will provide endless hours of debate with your fellow aficionados. Everyone seems
to have their own opinion on how best to light a cigar. Ultimately, you'll have to find your own
best method. To help, here are a few "opinions" we've gathered.
When using a match, wait until the sulfur burns off before placing it to your cigar. Many
smokers prefer long cedar matches called a cedar spill. A cedar spill is a long, thin strip of Spanish Cedar
which is lit first and then used to light the cigar. This method is often observed at fancy cigar dinners,
as it is a rather elegant way to light up, but not all circumstances lend itself to this method.
Butane lighters seem to be the lighter of choice. Many smokers complain that gasoline
based lighters impart an unpleasant flavor. Zippo (who manufactures such lighters) claims that if the flame
is allowed to burn a few seconds first, the disturbing odor will dissipate.
Whatever your flame source, preheat the foot by slowly rolling the cigar above the flame.
Once the foot is heated, place the cigar in your mouth and draw as you keep slowly rolling the cigar above
the flame, but never quite letting the flame touch the cigar. Slowly spin the cigar to establish an even
burn. Once you've got it going (examine the glowing foot to make sure the burn is even) take a few slow
steady draws. Then wait a half minute or so for the burn to establish. Now sit back and enjoy.
If one of your cigars ever goes out, knock off the ash, gently blow through the cigar to
clear out the old smoke, then follow your method of choice to relight. If you ever need to refill your
lighter, check out our tips for that
Check out our instructional video on How to Light a Cigar to see the proper technique in
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