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Smoking the Cigar

You now have a lit cigar in your hand. Allow it to cool down a little bit after the initial lighting, say for about a minute. After this take a puff every 30-90 seconds depending on how the cigar is burning. Puffing too often can cause the cigar to overheat and give it a harsh flavor. Puffing too infrequently will allow the cigar to go out.

We think that tipping the ash of a cigar should be done only when it is necessary, as opposed to nearly every puff as you see some people doing it. A well-made hand rolled cigar can easily sport an ash of 0.5" and often times well over 1" before it needs to be tipped. You can tell a good cigar by it's ash. We've found that the best way to tip the ash off of a cigar is to take two nice long puffs which heat the end up, wait about 5 seconds and lightly tap the cigar. Ideally this will cause the ash to break cleanly right at the boundary of the burning material leaving you with a perfect glowing orange cone at the end of the cigar. If the ash doesn't fall off with a light but sharp tap or two, it's not ready to be tipped. Forcing the ash to fall off, in our experience, can cause part of the glowing ember to come out of the cigar along with the ash leading to all sorts of problems including the cigar going out, uneven burning, lack of smoke and harshness. Give the cigar a little extra cool-down time after tipping, since the above double long puff method heats it up a little more than usual.

If the cigar starts to burn unevenly, orient the edge of the cigar which is burning the slowest towards the bottom when holding it or setting it in the ashtray. This may seem counter-intuitive, but there is more fresh oxygen at the bottom of the cigar than at the top where all the burn products are coming out. If this fails to rectify the situation, hold a flame very briefly to the edge of the cigar which is burning slower. This gets the recalcitrant part of the wrapper smoldering again, causing the burn to even back out.

If you have to let a cigar go out, blow through it before it goes out to remove the smoke inside the cigar before it has a chance to become stale. This can greatly improve the taste of the relit cigar. However this mostly depends on the cigar and your tastes, rather than some magical procedure. It is our opinion that you should, if possible, avoid letting cigars go out.

If your cigar does go out, for whatever reason, relight it slowly. Knock most of the ash off the end and gently blow through the cigar to get the stale smoke and fumes out of the cigar. Hold the remaining ash and partially charred tobacco in the flame for a few seconds while turning it before drawing on the cigar. When lighting the cigar start at the edges of the wrapper and work in a little. You'll probably find that by the time you have the edges lit, the whole cigar will be burning again.

Smoke the cigar until it either becomes too strong or it's burning your fingers, whichever comes first. If you're the curious sort, you can disassemble the cigar butt to see just how the layers are constructed. Wait until the cigar is out before attempting this.

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You had to light it too?