It's fair to assume that if you smoke cigars you already have a lighter; maybe even several of them. Cigar lighters are sort of like pens. Odds are you've got a number of them at your disposal, but there's probably one you use most often. That said, if you're not sure which lighter to use for your cigars, what follows is a brief description of the options available to you.
Basically, you've got two choices. A soft flame lighter, and the more popular torch, or jet flame lighter.
Soft Flame Lighters
Soft flame lighters have a flame similar to that of a candle. Typical examples of soft flame lighters are your disposable Bic-types and cheap convenience store imitations; though reputable manufacturers such as Xikar, Vector, et. al. (better known for their torch lighters), make some excellent soft flame models, plus they're refillable.
When using a soft flame lighter, you want to make sure that the white tip of the flame doesn't touch the foot of the cigar. The tip of the flame provides more than enough heat to properly toast and light your cigar. It may take a little longer, but when done right the results are excellent. Just two caveats:
- If you're using a plastic convenience store lighter, the metal tip can get very hot and burn your fingers.
- Generally speaking, soft flame lighters don’t work very well outdoors in windy conditions.
Therefore, if you prefer using a soft flame to light your cigars, since you'll be using it most often, you might want to invest in a high-quality soft flame lighter made by one of the companies I noted above, including Zippo. But first...
...a word about Zippos
Zippos are cool because they have that "iconic" American look and feel to them. Besides, certain models also become collectors items. However, because they run on liquid fuel they've been reputed to emanate an oily smell when lit. It's believed that this odor can affect the flavor of the tobacco, which is why many cigar smokers tend to avoid using Zippos. This may have been true with the original Zippo lighter fuel, but in recent years Zippo has developed a much more refined, premium-quality fuel that's essentially "odorless."
Torch/Jet Flame Lighters
For the majority of cigar smokers, the torch lighter is the standard. The neat thing about them is the flame is much hotter and more powerful. As a result, the flame toasts your cigars more quickly and is way more wind resistant. Another neat thing about torch lighters is they come in one, two, three, four, and even five jet models.
Single jet torch lighters are the most common, and generally lower in price. They work on all cigars, but because of their high temperature and pinpoint accuracy they can risk charring some cigars. For cigars with smaller ring gauges like 36 - 42, single flame torches are ideal. But when used on larger cigars with ring gauges of 48 and above, it may take longer for a single torch to do the trick. If you tend to smoke big cigars most of the time, you may have better luck with a two or three jet torch, as it will cover more surface area during the toasting process. This will also lessen the risk of overheating the foot.
Here again, regardless of how many jets are on a torch lighter, you want to keep the flame from touching the tobacco when lighting-up. This is another advantage to using a torch lighter. Because they're SO hot, you can toast a cigar from as far as several inches away from the foot. This gives you much better control over the entire toasting & lighting process, and may result in a more flavorful smoke.
(BTW: If you can't bear to part with your Zippo, but want a torch flame, check out the Z-Plus replacement insert. It turns your Zippo into a single torch flame lighter in seconds.)
No matter what type of cigar lighter you use, you're eventually going to have to refill it. If you think that just any brand of butane is sufficient for refilling your lighters, think again. If you want to get years as opposed to months of use from your lighter, you want to use the most refined fuel available. The more the gas has been filtered, the cleaner the burn. When purchasing lighter butane, make sure that it has been filtered at least 3 times, but the more the merrier. Xikar, Madelaine, and Lotus all make high quality butane. Lotus butane is triple refined, while Xikar's Premium Butane contains less than 15 parts per million of impurities.
Whichever lighter you decide is best for you, take good care of it and it will pay you back with unlimited lights.