Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back Off The Flame!

Chemistry class, or good old harmless experimenting in the garage or shop, taught us that some things burn more easily than others.  While we often think that flame makes things burn, it’s actually heat that makes materials catch fire, or incinerate.  So when you light your cigar it’s not happening because you hold the flame to the foot and make it burn.  Your cigar burns because you bring a heat source close enough to cause the tobacco to reach its burning point.
Tobacco burns in the neighborhood of 800 degrees Fahrenheit.  Properly stored cigars have higher moisture content than dry materials so it takes a little more time to ignite.  It is also the humidity content that causes your cigar to smolder elegantly instead of bursting into a brush fire.

My preferred means of lighting my cigar is a butane lighter.  Almost exclusively, I rely on a single flame torch lighter.  Multiple flames certainly work faster, but “torch” is the right word for them.  All I need is a heat source that is easily controlled and not unwieldy.  Butane lighters put out about 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit of heat.  Care is required with multi-flame lighters as they make it rather easy to scorch up the side of your wrapper.
So, with the massive heat output of a butane lighter, don’t go putting the flame right up to your cigar.  You can easily and evenly toast and light the foot of your cigar without ever putting the flame directly to the tobacco.  Granted, if you’re lighting a cigar in gale force conditions, cram the flame into the end and make it happen.  But, for all more civilized times of lighting a great cigar, back off a bit, and maybe take an extra ten or fifteen seconds.  It will light up nice and evenly and not only will the burn be better, but so will the flavors.

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