Friday, February 15, 2008

Lighting cigars: lighter fluid vs. butane

Several weeks ago, I posted a question in the CigarAdvisor.com Q&A about Zippo lighters, which use lighter fluid as opposed to butane. In his question the writer states, "I've read that this type of lighter taints the flavor of cigars."

In my reply, I wrote: "True, there is an 'oily' emission from the flame that may affect the flavor of the cigar, but I often wonder how much this really impacts the taste over the entire course of the smoke...You might as well try it once and taste for yourself."

So, being in possession of a Zippo model myself, I decided to take my own advice and give it a whirl. I love this lighter. It's a chrome "Lady Luck" model, which sports a bikini-clad brunette standing in front of five playing cards that comprise a Royal Flush in Spades. I bought it more for fun because I collect kitschy objects, but since I prefer torch lighters, I never used it to light my cigars.

I filled the lighter with Zippo Premium Lighter Fluid. The can states: "Clean Burning/Improved Ignition/Low Odor." When flicked, the lighter does emanate a slight odor, but it's more noticeable in small spaces, like a car.

The main difference was it took much longer to toast the cigar, and perhaps this is where any fumes might enter the shaft and mingle with the filler leaves. However, I lit up several cigars with my Zippo, and frankly, I didn't taste anything funky in the cigar. Plus, I surmised there was "truth in advertising" with regard to this more refined blend of lighter fluid.

For now, I think I'll stick with my torch lighters, mainly because they're just more efficient and hold up better under windy conditions. But as far as lighter fluid vs. butane is concerned, I don't think there's all that much to be concerned about.

Your thoughts?

7 comments:

Cigar Tailor said...

I have to agree with you, I did the same test with my Zippo lighter and another butane lighter, didn't notice much of a difference between the two except when I am outside, the Zippo is very difficult to get a nice clean lit on the cigar.

Gary Korb said...

Thanks for the comment. True, the torch is much more accurate. I lit up a Rocky Patel Honduran Classic Churchill Maduro the other day with my Zippo, and it seemed like it was taking forever to toast. Amazing how the lighter didn't get too hot, either. I was also sure this time the cigar would have an oily taste, but again, it didn't. Props again to Zippo on their premium lighter fluid.

Anonymous said...

I've been loyal to my Zippo for decades. I tried the butane insert but that did not work as well as the old reliable. I went back to the original insert recently and do not notice any appreciable taste from the lite.

I plan to stick with the original Zippo and forget about torches. I've been there and have gone through several bucks worth of torches over the years.

My Zippo is loyal and true, never failing me in its responsibilities.

Bob
The Metropolitan Society
http://www.metrocigar.com

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Zippo doesn't change the taste. I think only the snootiest of epicureans would disagree... and who wants to be seen with them?!

Seriously though, I love my zippo, a gift from my girlfriend when I started smoking cigars. I think lighting is an important part of the smoking experience. It's more meaningful to me ---and, no, it doesn't affect the taste.

Anonymous said...

Make your own fuel!

If you're smoking cigars I recommend something like Cognac. I usually mix it with something like a little everclear to get the spark to light it better. I keep it in a small 2oz to 4oz bottle with squeeze top for easy refill. (And so you can enjoy the rest of the Cognac with the cigar)

The flame is a lot more blue and looks really cool. It really makes the cigar taste so much better, real Cognac through out the cigar, mmmm! No matches ever again!!

Alec said...

Try using 80% rum, you don't need any other fuel, just the 80% does the trick. Pure natural..

Pitty I don't like the strong odor that comes from it, and it might get expensive.
Perhaps the cognac is a better idea.

Anonymous said...

I light my cigars with an old naphta-filled IMCO lighter (40 years old piece from my father) and I use the Zippo Fluid. I have no problem with the taste of the fluid. After toasting the foot of the cigar I give the stogie into my mouth and put the foot above the flame. But! I DON'T PUFF, I blow lightly through the cigar to make whole surface of the foot glowing.
After setting the foot to glow I wait cca 30 seconds and I can puff. NO CHANGE OF TASTE.
Greetings and cool smoke for all.
Reinhard