After investing your hard-earned money in a quality cigar, the last thing you need is that stick blowing up (literally or figuratively) in your hands. While sometimes malfunctions can’t be avoided, there are some things you can do to help avoid having a twisted up, uneven, underperforming cigar. Let’s take a look at some of the common cigar malfunctions and what we can do to ensure they happen less often.
This phenomenon occurs when your cigar burns too quickly in the middle. When tunneling occurs, you are missing out on all of the flavor that the wrapper is supposed to provide because the filler is the only thing burning. One thing that can help you to avoid tunneling is proper humidification and proper lighting. When a cigar filler is too moist and squishy, it will burn unevenly as all of the tobacco is not working properly together. If it’s not lit correctly, you’ve have issues the whole time you’re trying to enjoy it. If it’s too late for preventive measures and tunneling is caught early enough, your experience can be saved by taking your cutter and chopping off the end of the cigar that is malfunctioning. Once cut, relight it and give it another try. If your stogie continues to have a reverse cone in the middle, it may be time to lay that one down and try another.
Just like rowing a small boat in the lake. Cigar canoeing is when your cigar burns too quickly on one side. The most common cause of canoeing is an improper light. Before firing up, it’s important to toast your cigar or warm up the foot (end you light) before you begin to kiss it (small puffs to ensure light). If one side is considerably more orange when you start, you’ll find yourself correcting it more often as you smoke. While smoking, it also helps to occasionally rotate the cigar. When you draw, pay attention to which side you see more of the orange burn. If you notice it on top of your stogie, turn it so that that portion is now on the bottom when you take your next draw. The frequent rotation will help to ensure that all of the sides ‘catch up” with one another. One more tip is to slow down and take more time between puffs. I find it helpful to put it down for a few minutes with the slower burning side down. Let the cigar and nature work in your favor to allow the flame to correct itself before you decide to keep adding flame.
Better known as the “blow up”. Just like anything that is rolled, a cigar can come unrolled while smoking it. This can happen when:
- Cigars are damaged in transit and/or storage
- If the glue for the band has gotten onto the wrapper and it’s removed
- If the band is too tight causing the cigar to swell in areas, or
- When the cigar is dry, brittle and under-humidified
- Cutting too much from the cap
If your cigar has small rips, applying a little saliva or a small amount of cigar glue or fruit pectin to the unraveled portion can repair them. These tacky substances are the same non-hazardous glues used to roll the cigar and apply the bands and can be purchased at your local tobacconists. If you can tell initially that the band is too tight, go ahead and remove it to help preserve your cigar’s performance. If you choose to leave the band on, wait until you’ve smoke closer to it and then remove, as the heat eventually loosens the glue used on the band.
The key to enjoying your cigar experience is taking your time and paying close attention to what your cigar is doing…or not doing. Being patient and using as little fuel as possible (not constantly relighting if not necessary) helps to ensure that you are not altering the taste of your stogie and it keeps your cigar even, attractive and enjoyable.
While these certainly are not the only ways to keep your cigar performing efficiently and tasting great, they will definitely get you started. If you have any additional tips, let us know by adding your techniques in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.