Last year at the Tweetup in Chattanooga, I met Thomas Person, President of Commonweath Cedar Spills. His company specializes in the creation of cedar strips that can be used to light cigars. But they’re more than simple strips of wood. Each spill is tapered from a thicker handle to a smaller bulbous lighting end, and can be customized in a number of different ways. (The ones I’ve been using have a little flame logo at the lighting end, and the company’s website, CedarSpills.com written along the shaft.)
After Mr. Person told me about his operation, I told him I thought it was a great idea. For years now, I have been using the cedar I’ve removed from individual cigars (and pieces of sheets found in humidors) to light my cigars. But I couldn’t recall ever coming across any for sale. Sure, sometimes you’ll find miscellaneous cedar pieces available at the counter of a cigar shop, but those are generally in short supply, and intended for use on premises.
Before we parted ways, Mr. Person gave me a box to try out. And so I have over the past half year, finding the spill approach to lighting more enticing as the weather grew colder. Here are a few of my thoughts.
What I like most about Cedar Spills is the indulgent impracticality. At any given moment, I have at least one or two sources of fire that would more quickly light up a cigar of any size. And in fact, I usually have use one of them to light up the spill. But the point is, I’m in no hurry. And in theory, you really shouldn’t be when it comes to anything cigar related. Let’s face it, nothing about this hobby is practical, nor any aspect of it made better by rushing.
I have also noticed an improvement in flavor, at least initially, when compared to quickly lighting a cigar with a torch, which, I’m sure, is due in no small part to the difference in lighting temperature. But with a spill, I take it a step further. I toast a little bit longer, and don’t puff on the cigar while the flame is applied to the foot.
The Commonwealth Cedar Spills also produce a smaller, longer lasting flame than you’ll get from the cedar wrapped around your cigar. (Based on past experience, those razor-thin things can go from wood to fire ball to ash very quickly.) Which makes it more controllable, easier to get a proper light and less dangerous to use indoors. Not to mention sparing your fingers.
The biggest drawback to using Cedar Spills is, they’re not very efficient. They’re a little spendy (around 50 cents a spill), they won’t work well anywhere there’s a breeze, you can’t throw them in a pocket like a lighter, and you’re still going to need a separate source of fire. But like I said before, the drawbacks are a big part the attraction. If lighting your cigar is all about speed and efficiency, you’re probably not enjoy using a cedar spill.
Commonweath Cedar Spills are a definite buy in my book. Though they’ll never be my primary lighting method, they’re a fun alternative, one that encourages relaxation, and makes cigar lighting less of a thoughtless, mechanical thing. And if you use them infrequently the way I do, you’ll a box will last you quite some time. (I’m still nowhere close to needing a refill.)
If you’re interested in buying some Commonweath Cedar Spills and your local retailer doesn’t carry them, you can find them at CedarSpills.com, starting around $25 for a 50 to 60 spill refill up to boxes of 100 in personalized boxes made from exotic materials like walnut, mahogany or something called “Colonel’s Red Wood” for $75. (Those options look great, but I’m holding out for Stogie Review Blue.)