How to smoke a cigar

I just recently began smoking cigars, what is the proper way to do it?

Most of us can remember the day we were handed our first smoke and we had no clue how to go about it. My first cigar, a Churchill that I bought on a trip to Cuba, I smoked down to the nub and inhaled the smoke…and felt sick all night. I hope that the answers to the questions below can help you smoke like a pro and avoid the mistakes that I made my first time:

How do you hold the cigar, I assume not like a cigarette, but I’m kind of clueless as it is.

Do not hold a cigar between your index and middle finger like a cigarette, instead hold it between your index finger and thumb.

Should I remove the band from the cigar before lighting it?

It is a personal choice to remove the band of the cigar, but be aware that in certain places it is considered rude to advertise the brand you’re smoking. If you decide to take off the band, wait until you have smoked the cigar for a few minutes. The heat will make the gum on the band less adhesive and easier to remove without tearing the delicate wrapper. Whatever you decide to do, do not let the band burn as you smoke the cigar.

Anything I should know before lighting?

If the cigar comes wrapped in cellophane, paper or a cedar sleeve, remove these before you light it. You will also need to cut the closed end of the cigar with a cigar cutter. This is the end that you will put in your mouth. If the cigar has a foot band or a very large band, remove it as well. After you cut the cigar, test the draw by putting the cigar in your mouth and inhaling. If you cannot get air, try cutting the cigar a bit more to get a better draw.

What is the proper way to light a cigar?

You can light a cigar with a butane gas lighter or matches, but a gasoline lighter will affect its taste. You can find special cigar matches, which light up slowly, but an ordinary match will do. The most important thing is to take your time to light your cigar. Hold the cigar horizontally in contact with the flame. Rotate the flame around the foot of the cigar (the open end) until it starts to burn, then puff lightly. Make sure the burn is regular to avoid one side from burning faster than the other. Exhale gently over the foot of the cigar to assure a regular combustion. Some like to use a piece of cedar to light their cigars. Next time you buy a box of cigars, break off a piece of the cedar between the layer of cigars and try lighting your cigar with it.

While smoking a cigar... do I have to inhale all the smoke? ... Or just a little?

How about…none at all! You should not inhale the cigar smoke. The high alkalinity and amount of nicotine will make you cough and besides, you can enjoy a cigar’s flavor and body without inhaling.

How long should it take me to smoke a cigar?

To really appreciate your cigar, smoke slowly and not draw too frequently, which will heat it and spoil the taste. You should take about a puff a minute. Smoking too fast can also cause burn issues.To smoke a corona should take about one half hour, and the bigger cigars such as a Churchill or a Double Corona can take more than an hour.

What should I do if my cigar stops burning?

Do not worry, this is normal, especially if you have smoked more than half of it. Make the ash fall and light it up while burning the end of the wrapper. Next, exhale through the cigar to chase out the cold smoke (this is called purging the cigar) and light up your cigar as you would a new one. By doing this, you can smoke a cigar until two hours after you put it off; after two hours the whole cigar will have acquired the taste of the cold smoke. The longer sizes can be smoked the day after if less than half of it has been smoked.

I have been told it is bad form to shake the ash of a cigar, why?

That is because the better the cigar has been made the longer the ash. However, it is not necessary to shake the cigars to make the ash fall prematurely, nor is there need to try to keep it as long as possible: too long, it obstructs the airflow and irregular combustion develops. I will admit that I have been guilty of this because it is fun to see how long you can keep the ash!

How do I know when I should put down a cigar? I read that you should never smoke more than half.

When a cigar begins to let off too much heat and leaves an aftertaste in your mouth (generally during the last 2 inches), it is time to put it off. You don't have to put off a cigar like a cigarette by crushing it on an ashtray, in fact this is frowned upon because it stinks up the room; just let it stop burning by itself inside the ashtray. Do throw it away as soon as it is no longer lit.

What are some good cigars for beginners?

We're glad you asked. We recommend our Beginner's Luck 12-Cigar sampler if you are looking for affordable, quality smokes.

By Luzzie Normand
Co-Founder & Editor; Neptune Cigars Inc.
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