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Latest revision or addition: August 29, 2018

HOW TO SMOKE A CIGAR - BETTER



INTRO

You already know that the best way to smoke a cigar is the way you are doing it now -- otherwise, you wouldn't be smoking your cigar that way.

Or would you?

But, are there some other little techniques that you could employ at would make your enjoyment of a cigar even better?

For the newbie, there are excellent guides and suggestions on cigar selection, maintenance, and smoking at a variety of websites. I will furnish some helpful links at the bottom of this discussion. You are encouraged to go to them for other high-quality guidance.

What I am presenting below are some of my small suggestions (with
REASONS) that may or may not be included in many cigar smoking tutorials.

Experiment with them to see if any make a difference and enhance your cigar smoking experience. Only adopt what makes sense and pleases you.

EVEN BEFORE SMOKING


TAMP TAMP TAMP


I probably don't even have to mention this, as you have undoubtedly, by this time, have

discovered -- the hard way -- that it is best to tamp the to be lit end (also known as the "foot" of the cigar) a few times on a surface before lighting up.
 

REASON
: There may be small bits of loose tobacco leaf that when initially ignited will fall on your clothing, furniture, rugs or skin (ouch) causing damage or burns. The tamping will reduce this possibility. A word to the wise.

YOUR CIGAR BAND(S) Some have two

Here is something to think about - the removal of your cigar band(s). Some smokers like to remove the bands before lighting up
[Not necessaraly recommended. See comments below] while others wait until their cigars are partially smoked. Sometimes at the last second before they either burst into flame or smother the cigars.

If you are the former, then you know that
MOST ALL cigars have their bands wound counterclockwise as you would look at the mouth end of a cigar. By using your nail under the top edge of the band you can lift and unwind the band in a clockwise direction. [I have found a couple varieties of cigars have their bands wound opposite of what I have just described. But there is the probability that there are more. So look first.]

REASON: If you wait too long you may find yourself struggling with the removal of the band, burning your fingers and/or dropping lit ashes all over the place

.
HINT: If you like to smoke your cigar with the band on (I do), before lighting up, just use your nail to bend over a little corner of the band's end which will become a 'pull or starting point' and will greatly facilitate the band's removal at a later time of your choosing without your struggling and possibly disturbing the wrapper or ash. Also as the foot of the cigar is approaching the band it's heat may soften the band's glue facilitating the removal.


ADDITION 180318 - You may find that some cigar bands just happen to be loose around the cigar. In that case, the band can easily be slipped off the head end of the cigar when desired. Hopefully, this occurrence is not due to an improperly humidified cigar which has shrunk in width which might provide you with a less than desirable smoke. Sometimes the heat from the being smoked cigar will cause the band to loosen so that it may be easily slid off. But here is a warning - be very careful that during the "slip-off" maneuver, that you, at the same time, don't catch and tear the wrapper with the band as you might be quite sorry if you do as your smoking enjoyment will be most certainly lessened due to the damaged wrapper -- that you inadvertently caused.


ADDITION 180814 - If you remove the band before you smoke your cigar you run the risk of tearing the wrapper, especially if some object or even some excess glue is bonding the band to the wrapper. If the wrapper gets torn it more than likely than not will open up an air passageway and may keep you from being able to draw properly, thus ruining your anticipated smoking experience. Even worse, it might cause the entire wrapper to begin to become unraveled destining the cigar for the trash bin. Now if a slight tear occurs you can fix it using cigar repair glue and crack sealer [I will discuss this in a later section in the near future] but I have never seen anyone use this product in public and I assume it may be done best at home.


MOISTEN THE END

Before you cut the mouth end (also known as the "head") of the cigar you are about to light, moisten it with your tongue and lips. A good way is to place the cigar in your mouth and rotate it clockwise while wetting it with your tongue.

  REASONS: Most outer leaf cigar wrappers will be affixed in a counterclockwise direction (but check your particular cigar) and there will be less chance of you disturbing the wrapper if you follow the above.


By doing this you will help prevent the wrapper from splitting and flaking during the end cutting or punching and will create a cleaner cut or punch.

Of course you may develop alternate methods of moistening the end of a cigar. I am also assuming here that you have treated your cigars well and that they a properly humidified in the process.

CUTTING THE END

There are several ways of cutting the mouth end of a cigar before smoking. Some may be more suitable for a larger or smaller ring size and the firmness of the cigar.

Some popular cigar end cutters include the guillotine, V-cutter, scissors, punch, Shuriken 6-slit cigar cutter, and a rusty nail. Some people just bite the end off -- at least in the movies. Remember Edward G. Robinson?

You will soon know, by experimentation, which is best for each type of cutter for each of the varieties of cigars you smoke.

REASONS: You may find that cutting a very firmly hard draw cigar with a punch is not the best choice and in that case, a guillotine or V-cutter would be a better selection. If you are smoking a small ring cigar, perhaps only the guillotine cutter would be your proper choice. And please forget about using a rusty nail.

HINT: It is important that you not cut too much from the head end of the cigar if you are using a guillotine or scissors style of cutter. Only cut between the mouth end and the shoulder of the cigar.


BLOW, BLOW, BLOW

This is often overlooked. Before even attempting to light your cigar, blow into it a couple of times at the cut end.

REASON: By blowing into your cigar you will be adding a little moisture to its innards, helping it to create a more even burn while smoking. Also, in some over-aged cigars the tobacco can begin to break down and produce dust. When blowing into your cigar and you see dust coming out the foot end you are being warned that this has happened. You will most probably find that smoking this particular cigar will not be as good as you had hoped or expected.

HINT: Pretend you are blowing up a balloon. If you find that blowing thru the cigar is difficult and drawing through it is also difficult, the cigar may have been rolled too tight during its construction. Your only salvations, short of selecting another cigar, are making the cut in the mouth end a little bigger, giving the cigar a nice massage (be careful not to damage the wrapper), and/or using a cigar draw poker which pokes from the cigar's head to foot creating a tunneled air passage (use as a last resort.)


LIGHTING YOUR CIGAR


At this point, many just place a cigar in their mouth, take some sort of lighter, and burn the hell out of the end and a bunch of the wrapper, drawing deeply (usually creating an unwanted internal cone (or funnel) of burning tobacco.) Try to resist this. And at all times be gentle with your drawing intakes.

HINT: As an experiment, try the following technique and see if it doesn't create a better smoking and better tasting technique. I learned this in Paris France in the early 1960s when I was living and working there and have practiced it ever since as it creates a better smoking experience, at least for me. See icons


Also, don't be reluctant in trying
OTHER techniques that you may see or read about as they may be even better for you.


TOASTING THE END

The initial objective is
NOT to light the cigar, but to only gently toast its end - not the wrapper, keeping the direct flame at a slight distance. Using your torch (butane) lighter, WOODEN match, lit cedar spill (stick), or whatever (but no gas lighters similar to Bics), just toast the end evenly while holding the cigar and rotating it. Again, do not let the flame touch the cigar. The cigar is NOT in your mouth at the moment. Try and concentrate the heat towards the foot of the cigar without letting the flame touch.

REASON: This will help toast and set up the foot end for a second, more even lighting.


WIND YOUR WATCH

Holding your cigar between your first and index finger, vigorously shake it as if you were winding a self-winding watch for about 20-30 shakes.

REASON: This will fan the cigar's end causing and more even burn without really advancing the smoldering area into the interior the cigar, helping to even the burn. It will also bring attention to you from all the other cigar smokers in the room who will be wondering what the hell you are doing. Your explanation to them will make you sound like an expert. Tell them that it is a French technique or a technique taught to you by the Dutch Masters or even Fidel. It's OK to tell a little white lie at this point.

NOTE: Some smokers, instead of shaking their cigars, blow on the end that they just toasted. This is certainly acceptable, but be careful as you may blow a lit ash on your, pants, shirt, sofa, or rug while doing this, causing unwanted damage and embarrassment.


THE SECOND LIGHTING

Now continuing, relight the
END again, with the cigar out of your mouth in the same manner as above.

REASON: This time you will notice that the desired red glow will be spread evenly over the end of the cigar, facilitated by the previous toasting and shaking (or blowing) and will assist in a slow-burning even disk of embers advancing down your cigar as you enjoy it.


ALMOST THERE

One last thing before you begin smoking your cigar.
RESIST the temptation of drawing in, and first GENTLY BLOW OUT through the cigar for one breath.

REASON: It is said by some writers, that this will help to expel any residue of gases, sulfur, or lighter fluid that may have been trapped during the lighting process.

SMOKING AND ENJOYING YOUR CIGAR


OK. now we are getting down to the brass tacks of enjoying your cigar. From all this preparation your cigar is now lit and has produced a small even ring of ashes.

THE SLOW DRAG




Nothing too forceful or too often. Overheating your cigar will produce negative smoking results. You will develop a timing that will allow you to keep your cigar lit and not extinguished by too infrequent a drag. Experience here is your best teacher.

REASON: You are endeavoring to keep your cigar burning at a slow rate without causing it to burn hotter than it should. The stronger your draw, the hotter it will burn.


TURN, TURN, TURN

After each drag, it might behoove you to turn your cigar while in your mouth about a quarter of a turn.

REASON: Your objective is to keep the ash burning regularly as you smoke your cigar preventing just one section burning down.


VERTICAL IS UP

Holding the cigar in a vertical position when out of your mouth is strongly suggested.

REASON: Again this will greatly assist you in creating an even burn down the cigar and help to prevent one side burning way down too quickly. I realize that this may be difficult to accomplish at times, so try and do it as much as possible to promote the even burn.


OILS IN MOUTH

When you smoke to enjoy a cigar, don't be too quick to expel the smoke.

REASON: The smoke contains an essence of oils and flavors that will begin to coat the inside of your mouth, tongue, and even lips, so that you can BETTER appreciate the taste when you give yourself the time.


HINT: With the smoke in your closed mouth, take a breath of air THROUGH YOUR NOSE while not disturbing the trapped smoke in your mouth which is doing its 'flavorful job' of bringing you pleasure and taste. After your breath (some do two or more), slowly and gently blow the smoke from your mouth and pay attention to the taste that you are experiencing. Even your lips will have a pleasant taste - at least to you.


ASHES OFF

As your cigar burns while being smoked, an ash forms at the lit end (as if you didn't know.) Don't be too quick to knock or flick it off. At the same time don't be too slow only to have it fall in your lap. Ouch!

You will find that it is a sort of balancing act depending upon your method of smoking and the construction of the cigar. Some cigars, usually of higher quality, can support a longer ash, while others can't. This is where your experience with the particular cigar comes into play. Many cigar aficionados report that a cigar burning with a longer ash is better. Your personal trial and errors are important here. Take your time. Don't approach this in a 'half-ashed' manner.
HINT: Speaking of knocking off the ash, be gentle here too. Just roll the ash lightly on the inside of the ashtray. It will then take care of ash removal in the appropriate amount. Then take a gentle puff right after you knock off the ash.


REASON: Some of the residual heat will also be removed when the ash leaves the cigar and you will want to take that gentle puff to rekindle the even burning glowing ring that existed before you removed the ash. If you wait too long you might find that your cigar goes out. Bummer.


RE-LIGHTING

This is where a torch lighter comes in handy. You can take a cigar that needs re-lighting in one hand and the torch in the other and direct the flame(s) towards the end of the cigar while holding it over an ashtray or some other receptacle to catch any errant droppings -- especially anything that may be hot or lit. In this case, do not use the 'wind your watch' action mentioned in the paragraph concerning initially lighting your cigar unless you want to turn your cigar into a 4th of July sparkler. If you would rather re-light the cigar while in your mouth, please make sure your name is not Pinocchio or you'll suffer dire consequences. Remember the preferred method of lighting a cigar, whether initially or during a re-light is when the cigar is
NOT in your mouth.

HINTS: First, before re-lighting, dislodge the ash, if necessary, and blow gently into the mouth of the cigar to remove any old smoke and residual gases that may be lingering. Then remove it from your mouth for the actual lighting.

When you place the cigar back in your mouth, after being lit, again take gentle puffs to get your cigar going again.


LIGHTER IN FREEZER

If you use a butane refillable torch lighter you might like this following hint.

HINT: Place your torch lighter in the freezer of your refrigerator for an half-hour before you intend to fill it. The difference in temperature between the gas in the butane container and your cold lighter will allow more gas to enter the chamber of your lighter.




I most probably will be adding more hints and tips to this web page in the future so check back every once in a while to see what's new. I will place additions and contrbutions at the bottom so that you can easily identify them.

YOUR SUGGESTIONS

Perhaps you have some suggestions, hints or techniques that you would like to contribute to this web page. Please feel free to email me at
ghayman3@comcast.net. I will be glad to include your worthy contributions on this page giving you full credit.

This web page is for the benefit for all cigar smokers who are interested. It contains some suggestions, ideas, and hints that may be of value to some. It is not meant to be, nor is it, the final word. If there is something posted here that is of value to you, then you are a winner for finding it.

Happy Smoke Rings.

Gary Hayman

 CIGAR SMOKING INFO LINKS OF INTEREST

I've only listed a few of the major ones. Look for more with your browser's search engine. You might notice that some information between the sites are different, even may be at odds with other contributions. That is where your comparison of ideas and wisdom comes into play. Experiment and judge for yourself.

JR Cigars - "Cigar School"
Famous Cigars, Cigar Advisor "Cigars 101"
Thompson Cigar - "Cigars 101"
Cigar World - "How To Smoke A Cigar Like A Pro"
The Manual - "How to Smoke a Cigar Like You Actually Know What You’re Doing"
Up Swing Report - "How To Smoke A Cigar"
Wikihow - "How To Smoke A Cigar"
Cigars International [Video] - "How To Smoke A Cigar"
Cigars International [Video] - Do's and Don'ts - "Cutting & Lighting Cigars"



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- Enjoying Your Cigars More -
web page as they too may have some interest in the contents.
Give them this link:
http://bit.ly/EnjoyingCigars
or
http://ghayman.net/cigars

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This entire project, its conception, development, execution, and maintenance is a philanthropic public service endeavor on the part of Gary Hayman and is in support of those individuals who enjoy smoking a cigar every now and then.