Ready to step up to 10 cigars that’ll kick your ash from here ‘til Tuesday? Here’s our picks for the top strong cigars that you need to smoke at least once – bonus points, if you can finish all 10.
2019 CA Report: 10 Top Cigar Lighters to Fit Any Budget
If you’re going to smoke premium hand rolled cigars, it’s pretty much a given that you have to own a torch butane lighter. They light your cigars quick and clean, and even if it’s windy, no problem. But, heed my warning that you’ve got to light your cigar with great care as the flames burn very hot – an average of 3,578 degrees Fahrenheit – which yeah, is pretty damned hot as I found out the hard way.
The first time I used a torch was on a bright and sunny day I heard the lighter hissing but couldn’t see a flame. So, being the rocket surgeon I sometimes am, I ran the lighter up my forearm to test it, and surprise, surprise, it was more than [email protected]#$!*& hot, as my skin began to sizzle and bubble accompanied by a godawful smell. Well, I’m a little more careful these days around my body parts, but equally as careful when putting a flame to the foot of my cigar because improper lighting can ruin that precious stick that you laid down your hard-earned money for (we’ll touch on that in a moment).
Matches, Zippos & Bics
People often ask the Cigar Advisor team if matches are the best way to light up and are Bics and Zippos bad to use. First, if using matches, you should really use wooden matches because with matchbook matches the sulfur goes into the cigar, where the wood is just cleaner to light with. Zippos and Bics use lighter fluid, where many feel it affects the taste of your cigar, but I personally feel the effect is nominal (walk through any cigar factory and every person there uses a Bic.) With that being said, I do feel that using a torch is definitely the best method for several reasons. A torch allows you to light up quicker and more accurately, and yes, the butane is much cleaner. The more refined your butane is, the cleaner it burns and is less likely to clog your lighter. Several excellent high-grade butane brands are Lotus, XIKAR, and Vector. Then there’s Dupont butane which is only meant for ST Dupont lighters.
If you do have a clogged lighter that’s not working, (and we’ve all got them sitting in a drawer that’s become an expensive lighter graveyard) here’s a CA Fan Mail video I did that shows you how to revive those presumably dead torches:
Types of Cigar Torches
There are basically four types of torch lighters: Single flame has one jet and is good for lighting smaller ring gauge sticks and for doing touch-up lighting on any size. Double flame can be used for smaller cigars to slightly larger. Triple flame is more for larger ring gauges (I’d say 52 and up) as the 3 jets cover more area, and a 4-jet is used for large sizes, perfect for a 6 x 60. Note: There are also butane kettle shaped lighters, and a very popular one actually made my top 10 list.
The Need to Bleed
When your lighter runs out of fluid, the best way to avoid having it clog up to where it stops working, is to bleed it of all the excess butane before filling. Air pockets get trapped in the chamber and you need to poke or press into the opening at the bottom to expel the excess gas. Put it right up to your ear to listen, and when there is no more hissing, your lighter is ready to be refilled.
Toasting & Lighting
Toasting a cigar is actually an important function as it prepares your cigar to be smoked. What I mean by preparing is, well think of it this way… you just took your cigar from a humidor that’s approximately 70 degrees and 70% humidity, and now you’re hitting it with a 3,578 degree flame right up the culo. I see so many guys just jam that searing hot flame deep into the foot, scorching the living hell out of the wrapper (The tip of the flame is the hottest part). What this can do is make the cigar swell and crack, as well as taste burnt and bitter. Toasting the foot is just holding your lighter a couple of inches away so the flame doesn’t actually touch, and circling it around the outer edge for about 5 seconds or so. This allows the wrapper, binder, and filler to marry, while allowing heat to slowly work its way into the tobacco. As the natural oils of the leaves warm, it prepares your cigar to burn evenly and flavorful. And, nobody really explains this better than Nick Perdomo in the Cigar 101 video he did for Cigar Advisor:
With all that being said, here’s the list of 10 lighters that I really like. They are listed from low to high in cost (prices effective at the time this was published), giving you some good buying options at various price points.
Lower Price Point: Lighters Under $20
This is the lighter I always keep in my car or travel with for several reasons. It’s a powerful triple flame torch made with great quality, and at $6.99, I’m not going to cry if I lose it somewhere. I really like the see-through base that shows your fuel level, and it holds a good amount of butane. The shape of the Cyclone fits nicely in your hand, and with the flip-top cap and push-button ignition, it’s super easy to use. For a no-frills lighter it works amazingly well and it’s one of the best-selling torches at Famous. It’s available in both charcoal gray and clear.
Jet Line Phantom Triple
Once again, for its very low price, we have a triple flame torch that not only looks stylish but does the job quite well. It has many of the features that more expensive lighters display like push-button ignition, a clear fuel tank, and a flame adjustment swivel dial at the bottom. This Jet Line is available in four vibrant colors: black, red, chrome, and yellow, and it even comes with a lifetime guarantee which is impressive for the cost. The Phantom is a hell of a value, and I keep one in the glove compartment and one in my jacket pocket at all times.
The Firebird Hookah looks almost like a mini pistol that James Bond would carry, but in fact, it’s a superb single-jet torch lighter at a ridiculously low price. The body is rubber coated for a nice grip, there’s a clear fuel gauge window, a single action ignition up top, and an easy to use flame adjuster. This windproof beauty is made with Colibri’s state-of-the-art Quantum Ignition System that doesn’t require batteries or flints. Definitely a great lighter to keep in your golf bag. Another terrific value and its available in black and silver.
Mid-Range Price Point: Lighters Under $50
Vertigo Big Buddah
This hefty quad jet beast comes in at 4 inches high by 2 ¼ inches wide, and with its huge butane reservoir, it’s gonna take a whole lot of lights before it runs out. Perfect for wider ring gauge smokes, it features a fold-out cigar punch at the bottom along with a nice sized flame adjustment dial. This is the lighter the boys and I have had on the poker table forever and it’s great for the back patio. This big boy is very affordably priced for all you are getting, and with Vertigo’s 1-year warranty, you know it is the cigar accessory to count on. Available in gun metal, chrome, and Cigar Monster black.
XIKAR Allume Riot
This compact, sleek, and good looking single-jet lighter is perfect for the cigar smoker on the go as it neatly stores just about anywhere. The pin-point flame will give you perfect accuracy for toasting and lighting your cigar. The Allume also features a fuel gauge window and a flame adjustment dial, and as always, it comes with the XIKAR lifetime guarantee. This beauty is stylishly designed, guaranteed to have your friends asking, “What is that lighter and where did you get it?” It’s affordably priced and available in an array of rich colors.
Alec Bradley Table Top Lighter/Burner
Ok, ok, so it’s not “all” about the hand-held torch, because this chic little kettle lighter from Alec Bradley is a fixture in many a cigar bar or club. It’s got a huge fuel reservoir and depending on how high the fuel adjustment is set the flame can last for a good 2 hours. There’s a push-button ignition and a nice little handle to grip while lighting. It’s just right for cigar bars and man caves because it sits there perfectly, virtually impossible to tip over, lights any size cigar, and it’ll be quite a while before this guy needs refilling. And, what a great gift for any cigar lover.
Higher Price Point: Lighters Over $50
Lotus Black Label Dominator
This is the perfect example of gorgeous style and function coming together. The powerful quad jets on the Dominator are precision pointed to light any size stick. Its nickname, the Swiss Army knife of cigar lighters, comes from the built-in twin blade punch cutter, along with a pair of cigar scissors built into the side that can be used for cutting torpedoes. It’s got a fuel tank that holds an ample amount of fluid, as well as an easy to use flame adjustment wheel. I’ve used this lighter many times and it feels great in your hands and looks impressive when firing up. Available in black, chrome, and gun metal.
The Orion just might be one of the coolest looking line of cigar lighters on the market today. While it sports a unique polished retro look and design, it is precision engineered featuring the latest technology on the market. The sturdy housing is made entirely of metal, there’s a fuel level window so you never run out, and an 8mm cigar punch is built right in. This really is a beautifully made piece, its available red, black and red, and gun metal, and the one I personally love is the polished orange.
XIKAR Volta Quad
As far as table top lighters go, the Volta is an amazing piece of engineering that’s incredibly sturdy and just visually bad-ass sleek. You’ll notice that big-ash push-button igniter that opens the top like the aperture on a camera, exposing those four very powerful laser jets. The fuel reservoir is large and there’s a red hue fuel gauge along with a ratcheting flame adjustment wheel at the very bottom. The Volta is available in five great colors, including red, black, silver, gun metal, and an attractive vintage bronze.
Luxury Price Point: Lighters Over $1000
ST Dupont Ligne 2 Diamond Head
When you purchase an ST Dupont lighter you’re making a statement – and it’s basically, “I have a shit-ton of money, and I only want the best.” And there’s no doubt that they are the best, as these lighters have approximately 70 components, they go through 500 – 600 basic treatments, and the assembly of each unit can take up to four to five months. Famous has a quantity of 1 in stock, so you’d better break out the credit card and snag this incredible piece of flame throwing luxury before somebody beats you to it. Damn, I wanted three of ‘em.