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Stogie Tips: Pass the Wooden Matches, Please

10 May 2007

Last June, I published one of our first Stogie Tips: a short article on how to properly light a cigar. Aside from the ever-important “toasting the foot” strategy, the bulk of piece dealt with various means with which to light a stogie.

I came to the conclusion that “due to their resistance to wind and perfect flames, the best tools for igniting cigars are butane lighters.” This is a commonly held principle among seasoned cigar smokers, but I’m here to tell you that I was wrong.

I’m sure many out there – especially lighter manufacturers and retailers – will disagree, but, truth be told, I’ll take a handful of wooden matches over the best butane torch any day of the week.

“But wait,” you ask, “don’t matches take a lot longer to light a cigar than a torch?” I won’t disagree with that. If you light a cigar properly, it could take three to four wooden matches – and upwards of several minutes – to establish a good light.

But, as Mike Copperman of Bethesda Tobacco so graciously taught me, that’s all part of the cigar-smoking process. You see, taking time to properly light a fine stogie is a ritual that shouldn’t be rushed. Before the first puff, take in the aromas as the flame dances off the tobacco. Build the anticipation. After all, the cigar hobby is meant to be enjoyed in a relaxed, slow-paced environment.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen friends, acquaintances, and video bloggers butcher their cigars by flash-frying the foot. Where’s the ceremony or nostalgia in that? Besides, it’s hard to build anticipation in .02 seconds. Like I wrote before, please take time to smoke.

Another critique of wooden matches is that, once struck, they exude sulfur, an odorous element that can alter the taste and smell of a cigar. While it’s true that modern match heads contain antimony sulfide and potassium chlorate, their effect on tobacco taste is negligible. Besides, you can easily bypass this risk by waiting one to two seconds after the match is struck before touching it to the foot.

Finally, many butane torch fans cite their method’s excellent resistance to wind as the coup de grậs. I won’t oppose that point. I’m not going out on a limb when I say that lighters are much better in a stiff breeze. Most of the time, however, I find the wind is not a major factor. Save for those occasions when I’m on the golf course, I’ll still take my matches over a lighter.

Please note that I write this not to offend or irritate, but only to prod. Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I’m really turned off by all those fancy gadgets that have flooded the industry.

Besides, why spend $470 on a torch that you’re just going to loose between the couch cushions – especially when you can pick up a pack of wooden matches for free every time you hit up a bar or restaurant?

Patrick A

Tags: cigars

Drew Estate

31 Responses to “Stogie Tips: Pass the Wooden Matches, Please”

  1. Beattie Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 4:30 am #

    Great post. I was thinking about picking up one of those really nice torches, but you've convinced me otherwise.

    Although, like you said, there are times when a trusty torch comes in handy…

  2. Patrick A Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 4:35 am #

    Beattie,

    My advice to you is to pick up the Ronson JetLite from Wal-Mart. As we wrote in previous posts, it's under $3 and it works just fine. That way, you'll have something available when you need it.

    Otherwise, stick to the matches.

  3. George E Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 7:02 am #

    Patrick –

    You're absolutely on target. We should all take a vow to remember that smoking cigars is about smoking cigars, not about accumulating gadgets and doo-dads.

    P.S. The other great thing about that Ronson lighter is it works just fine on cheap Ronson butane. No triple-refined gas needed.

  4. Scott Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 8:20 am #

    Hey, I'm not one to knock a good wooden match, but sometimes even the best piece of cedar is no contest against a strong wind. I was at a very windy and rainy Virginia Gold Cup on Saturday…and my very fancy lighter came in very handy for the many of us who were smoking cigars. No one had to huddle in corners or attempt to suck the life out of our cigar to get a decent even burn going.

    For me, cigar smoking is the same as drinking good wine. Part of the appeal – as I see it – can be the gadgets and doo-dads. I like setting my cigar in a nice ashtray, or snipping it with a a fine cutter nearly as much I as enjoy opening wine with a great corkscrew or drinking it from a great glass.

    Smoking cigars is a pleasure…why not try to get as much out of the experience as one can?

  5. George E Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 11:12 am #

    Scott — Well, I'm a firm believer in "to each his own" and I likely overstated my case. If those things bring you pleasure, I say that's fine by me.

  6. Scott Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 1:42 pm #

    George –

    No worries, pal…it's a conversation, not an argument. God knows I've drank my share of wine from a paper cup or from the bottle…haha

  7. Brian Friday, May 11, 2007 at 11:42 am #

    But that $470 Dunhill lighter looks so good with new box of CAO Vision! LOL

    In all seriousness, I will try the match approach the next time around. I like the intentionally unhurried time I spend smoking a good cigar. Elaborate rituals and extra fire could only stand to make it better! 🙂

  8. david Saturday, May 12, 2007 at 1:32 am #

    Patrick did I miss something? I really didn't read one strong compelling point for matches over butane lighters.

    You can find cheap butane lighters.

    Lighter the cigar faster only means you get to enjoy the cigar sooner, what's wrong with that? I take my time pre-light. I inspect it thoroughly and cut it, that's enough ceremony for me.

  9. demolay tobacco Friday, August 15, 2008 at 10:46 am #

    i like to buy a few case of wood stick matches ,like a small size and 10 sticks in the box if you have, so let me know the price for each case and the shipping will be to california, ventura

    thank you

  10. Dave L. Sunday, February 1, 2009 at 7:38 am #

    I agree there are times when a torch lighter comes in handy, especially in windy conditions but if it's that case, can I really relax and enjoy my cigar? I prefer to savor and anticipate a good cigar and the ritual I use to light up. I lean toward the three match technique, using either a 3 to 4 inch long match I slowly toast the foot until I have achieved a consistent even light, only then do I cut the head and with a few short draws I'm on my way. Considering the many years it took to create the cigar I'm about to enjoy why rush the experience? It's time well spent!

    Enjoy!

    Dave L.

  11. your mom Monday, February 2, 2009 at 11:11 pm #

    hi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Anonymous Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    Что-то мне кажется, на вашем блоге развелось слишком много так называемых говн*комментатров, которым лишь бы ляпнуть чего-нибудь:)

  13. Vectis Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    Where can an individiual (not a business) buy 3 or 4 inch long wooden matches?

  14. Don Monday, August 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    So I have an alternative that is actually amazing I think. I like to light up old cedar from an old cigar box that i broke into small but long pieces and dried in the sun. Not only does it stay lit well an longer than a match but I add that cedar flavor into the mix when I prepare to take the first puff.

  15. Dave D Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    WTF EVER MAN. I enjoy my cigar. You all enjoy lookin like me when u smoke. As a cigar and cannabis smoker I understand that a bic is the most important tool to a true smoker. But if wooden matches make u feel cool, then use them, that's why you smoke. I give away more than I smoke, I always have a quality box of stogies on my desk. My favorite is the million dollar stogie. The stogie of the day is busted up on my big ass desk, rerolled with high quality cannabis by my lovely, amazing secretary, and smoked with my colleagues, we call it the million dollar stoagie because I cut my secretary a million dollar check when I hired her, I told her its for the stoagies she rolled(friend of my wife).that's what its all about, the million dollar stoagie. I also call the stoagie after a deal the however many million dollar stoagie. They peak my rush by makin me feel crude n dirty greedy ass rich n I roll with it, smokin like a stack on a locomotive. On a roll. Nice hit a scotch to rough me up, smack me in the face a couple times. That's what its about. Its not about how everyone else smokes it, or the best way, none of you know how to truly enjoy a cigar. Worrying about how too light it. Its nice that your life sucks that bad that you dedicate half an hour do a burning wad. Cigars aren't luxury baby, they just accompany it in ways that you all clearly do not understand. I wish I had time to share more but I'd have to start chargin. No need to thank me. It doesn't matter much from u piss ons anyways. What u say dosnt matter. Hahaha. U r all piss ons. Remember me when u relax with ur smoke. Forever. You will never have my $$$,$$$,$$$. U can't afford a real cigar. Anything under $30 bucks means ur a wannabe. Oh mahahaha.n. Hahaha. Wtf.

  16. Lavanya Friday, March 1, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    After arriving of more varieties of match sticks like wax and cardboard, wooden sticks are still more popular.

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