For me, it was a matter of forgetting I had one with me. I was so used to just grabbing it along with my wallet, handkerchief, keys and cell phone from my valet that I neglected to remember they are illegal to travel with. At the time, I was carrying a fairly expensive S.T. Dupont lighter and when I emptied my pockets at security, I was given the option of surrendering the lighter or missing my flight. There is nothing worse than learning this lesson the hard way.
Butane lighters are prohibited from flying with, whether it be in your carry-on or your checked luggage. The best advice I can offer if you plan to smoke a pipe or cigar on your trip is to simply buy an inexpensive butane lighter or wooden cigar matches upon your arrival. You can usually find a fairly cheap metal torch lighter for the ten-dollar mark and most shops will fill it for you upon purchase which prevents you from also having to buy fuel. The other option is to smoke in a cigar lounge exclusively, where there are usually house lighters available for you to use. One final tip that I often do myself is just to buy a single cigar when I want to smoke it. Most tobacconists will be happy to cut the cigar for you and light it. If you do want to save it until you return to your hotel or get to a certain place, they will usually offer you a free match box or at least a couple of matches to get the job done. I’ve never been refused this and even though I always offer to pay, in my experience they have never accepted money for it.
Of course, over the years, manufacturers have competed against each other by introducing more flame options, but for the most part, three is the most you’ll ever need. The biggest benefit to more flames is the ability to light a larger circumference, evenly, and at the same time. For those who smoke larger ring gauge cigars, this can be highly desirable. The second reason some men purchase double or triple flame lighters is simply because of the appearance. However, I will note – for what it’s worth – that on a personal level, I much prefer a single flame as it offers more control over the light and, in my opinion, looks far more elegant than a beastly three flames scorching your cigar. There are many lighters on the market available for cigar and pipe smokers. With a lighter you get what you pay for and having a high-quality lighter means the difference between getting an even and quick light or having a lighter that gets clogged doesn’t burn evenly or can be dangerous to use. My standard rule of thumb is that if you can buy the lighter anywhere other than a reputable tobacconist, it’s not worth your money. Even in the event it clearly advertises itself as a torch lighter, avoiding the Zippos and BICs from 7-Eleven and other convenience stores is always critical. I’ve owned many lighters over the years, and these are the brands I have been consistently impressed with. Dupont is a producer of high-quality luxury accessories. The lighters produced by them are as much of a tool as they are a piece of art, and the limited editions can cost thousands of dollars as they’re handcrafted and made from precious materials. Dupont also sells some resplendent lighters that start at just a couple hundred dollars. Still far more elegant than the gaudy Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bugatti lighters, they offer classic design and workmanship that is comparable to any other premium torch lighter on the market. If you have the money, I highly recommend a lighter from S.T. My second favorite cigar lighter brand, Xikar lighters are less expensive than S.T. Dupont but offer a consistent light that is revered by its loyal customer base. The lighters they produce come in various shapes and styles, but every one of them is well made and is consistently hard working for you as a daily lighter or as the occasional lighter brought out after dinner parties. Colibri is another well-known brand that makes various cigar accessories. It’s not a brand that I use regularly, but I have a few of them in the back of the drawer I keep my tobacco accessories in. Colibri was the first torch lighter I ever owned, and it was one that worked very well for me. Their lighters tend to be priced on the lower-end, ranging from about $20 upwards of $50, but they offer consistent lights and are excellent for the new cigar smoker for the aforementioned reasons as well as the lack of maintenance required. A well known European lighter brand, Lotus makes a variety of lighters but specializes in more contemporary offerings that pay homage to sports cars and aviation. They are quite reasonable and range in price from around $50 to over $150. Overall, they make very attractive lighters that look more expensive than they really are. For the modern gentleman looking for a conversation piece at an inexpensive price, Lotus might be your best bet.
When compared with your friends Zippos you’ll be a shoe-in for the win every time. For an even less expensive lighter, it might be worth considering the Vertigo range by Lotus which has a very industrial appearance. Let’s be clear about one point: Your lighter is only as good as the fuel inside it. Butane is the only acceptable fuel that should ever be used for a cigar or pipe lighter, but that doesn’t mean all butane is the same. Xikar often compares their lighters to fighter jets, and there’s a reason we don’t fill up a fighter jet at the Piggly Wiggly. When it comes to quality butane, you want the purest fuel available with the lowest possible level of impurities. This means that just as you would avoid Zippo lighters, it’s wise to avoid their butane as well. The zippo which should not be used to light pipes or cigars.
I only use Xikar Purofine as it has some of the lowest levels of impurities at just 15 parts per million. By using a high-quality butane, I’m ensuring that my burner valves don’t get clogged and that my lighter doesn’t suffer from misfires.