How to Deal with Mold on Cigars and in the Humidor

How to deal with mold

Question from a reader:

I got some white small spots on my cigars and also in the humidor, most likely it's mold. Can you please help me with a few tips?
Dan

One day you go to get a cigar out of your humidor and you notice something: there is a change in the appearance of your cigars. Maybe you see some fuzzy patches on your cigar wrappers, or perhaps some white spots on the cigars or the sides of the humidor. You immediately have a sinking feeling — could your cigars be ruined by mold? What can you do to identify, prevent, and remove mold from your cigars?

Is it Mold or Bloom?

First things first. You need to figure out whether the “mold” on your cigars is really mold or not. It could just as well be something else called bloom, or plume. As the oils in your cigar rise slowly to the surface, they crystallize at the top, giving a “dusted” appearance to the wrapper of your cigar. As bloom progresses, you will see whiteness coating your cigar—usually fairly evenly, though there may still be some spottiness to it.

Note that sometimes bloom does not form evenly. Sometimes it will take the form of white spots. If your cigar has white spots, it may be bloom and it may be mold. Look at the texture of the spots. If they look hairy or fibrous, they are mold. If they look crystalline/dusty, they are probably bloom. You can find a comparative picture in this article about cigar wrappers.

Bloom on cigars is not a problem. In fact, some cigar smokers prefer their cigars to have bloom.

Mold on the other hand is a fungus which appears on cigars when your humidor’s environment isn’t being properly maintained. Once the humidity level exceeds 80%, mold may start to form on the wrappers and the sides of the humidor. Look for telltale patches of blue or grey, green or white fuzz.

What to Do About Mold

If all you have is bloom, you don’t need to do anything about it. But if you have mold, take the moldy cigars and set them aside so the mold doesn’t spread to your other stogies, and wipe down the humidor’s interior walls using an isopropyl alcohol solution. The mold will be killed by the alcohol. Unfortunately, the mold may leave permanent stains on the humidor’s walls.

When you wipe down your humidor, if you do not see any stains, you may have only had bloom, but it’s not a guarantee. If you do see stains, that’s an additional sign you do have mold. You can actually still smoke the moldy cigars (if the mold is white; if it's green or blue it's most likely that the cigar is lost), as long as the mold hasn’t spread to the interior. First you will want to kill that mold, though. You may be able to accomplish this by keeping the cigars outside your humidor for 36 hours and then putting them back inside. If you are feeling more aggressive, you can put them in the freezer.

Prevention Measures

You don’t want this to happen again, so reduce the humidity level in your humidor to around 72%, and make sure the temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Some fluctuation is fine, as long as things stay within a reasonable range (about 66-79%). Outside that range, you’ll encounter problems with freshness. If your humidor is malfunctioning, you may have to replace it. Check on your cigars regularly to ensure your problem is solved.

The Cure for “Cigar Breath” Found!

Smoking breath

A malady that has long plagued the cigar smoking man (and woman)… Cigar Breath!

No matter how much you brush your teeth or your tongue or your face, it's still there!

Try as you might, no mint or spray can hide the Funk that is Cigar Breath.

Until now!

That’s right, for only a couple of bucks at your neighborhood grocer, you too can eliminate that noxious odor that emanates from the depths of your mouth after you’ve enjoyed your favorite cigar of choice.

What is it you ask? It’s…

Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds!

That’s right, pop 10 or 15 in your mouth and suck on them for a couple of minutes, you will taste licorice from the seeds, but more importantly when you spit the seeds out, your cigar breath is ‘Poof!’ gone!

I stumbled on this due to my love of Indian cuisine. Instead of a little tin of mints, they will often have a little plate of anise seeds, fennel seeds and licorice candies. I love the taste of licorice so I got some of the ingredients to make a batch of mine at home.

I just so happened to have smoked a cigar prior and upon spitting out the seeds I noticed my cigar breath was gone, the wife didn’t even comment on my breath (and she ALWAYS does).

If you can handle the taste of licorice, give fennel seeds a try and see if it works for you.

The Definitive Cigar Wrapper Guide from A to Z

The Definitive Cigar Wrapper Guide from A to Z

There is a lot of information online about cigar wrappers, mostly listing different shades and providing short characteristics of each type. We've decided to go a bit further and attempted to create a sort of library about cigar wrappers. This page will list all articles about cigar wrappers ever published on CigarInspector.com.

We hope that this information will help you select and understand cigars. Our research has found that cigar makers tend to generalize their wrapper descriptions or have different names for the same type of wrapper. So hopefully we'll help you explain some of the inconsistencies. We also included examples of existing cigars with a particular wrapper whenever possible.

Do not forget though that the wrapper is not responsible for the flavor of the cigar alone, and how much does the wrapper contribute to a cigar's flavor is another discussion in its own. Oh, and before you start, have a look at our Cigar Wrappers F.A.Q. and learn about common tobacco strains.

Wrappers by Origin

Wrappers by Type

Wrappers by Color

  • Candela - green eggs and ham, please.
  • Colorado - the red-headed stepchild of cigars.
  • Maduro - includes Brazilian, Costa Rican, Nicaraguan and Mexican maduros as well as Connecticut Broadleaf, Aripiraca and Mata Fina wrapper types.

"Extinct" Wrapper Types

These are wrappers rarely seen anymore or are from plants no longer grown or used for wrapper leaaves.

  • El Corojo : the forefather to the modern day Corojo plant.

 

Top 9 Cigars Under $5

Following the blog post about the best options when selecting cigars as a gift, it's now time to cover the budget cigars area. Indeed, there are so many cheap cigars out there (think about all those bundles from large distributors) that it's rather hard to find a sub-$5 stick that fits the bill. Of course, when you buy a sampler or even a box of such cigars, the stakes are not high, but still, we're always better off with some guidance.

Below is a list of our favorite cigars that cost under $5 if bought by box. Keep in mind that this selection is subjective, so your mileage may vary, as usual. And if you don't find your favorite budget cigar below, let us know in the comments area!

Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente

Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente Natural

Natural or Maduro (or even Sun-Grown), these cigars from one of the major manufacturers rarely disappoint. Well-built, with a medium body, they can be lit daily.
[review of the natural] [review of the maduro] [compare prices]

CAO La Traviata

CAO La Traviata Favorito

The La Traviata is quite a complex cigar, and is definitely worth trying. One of the best price/quality ratios out there.
[review / compare prices]

Alec Bradley American Classic

Alec Bradley American Classic

Connecticut wrappers are rare guests in most lists, but this one definitely should not be missed. Alec Bradley American Classic is the brand's entry in the budget cigars market, and it's a success.
[review / compare prices]

Cu-Avana

Cu-Avana Punisher

This value brand offers a few decent options, including the Punisher (warning - infused wrapper!) which retails for just under $5 or more traditional Natural and Maduro, available at a whopping $2 each.
[review of the Punisher] [review of the maduro] [compare prices]

Gurkha Royal Challenge

Gurkha Royal Challenge

What? A Gurkha? It may sound strange, but this Royal Challenge is actually rather good. And at $5, unlike most other offerings that sell for $10+, a sampler of these is affordable.
[review / compare prices]

Brickhouse

Brickhouse Churchill

Does this cigar really have to be on all lists? Seems like the answer is yes, unless they decide to double the MSRP. Until then, let's enjoy these fine smokes.
[review / compare prices]

Toraño Master Series

Torano Master Series Churchill

Another major manufacturer with a budget smoke. And, again, the results are pretty good. Torano Master Series is a frequent guest in my humidor, thanks to its bold flavor and reliable construction.
[review / compare prices]

Padron 2000

Padron 2000 Maduro

Of course, we couldn't leave this one out. Padron 2000 was one of the best cheap stogies when I started smoking cigars. It stood its ground.
[review / compare prices]

Flor de Oliva

Flor de Oliva Presidente

Not a flavor bomb by any means, the Flor de Oliva is a good quality stick at a super price. Can be enjoyed by any smoker, beginner or veteran.
[review / compare prices]

Your suggestions in the comments below are more than welcome!

Storing cigars in their boxes

Storing cigars in their boxes

Reader's question: "I have 10 boxes of Cuban cigars that I want to age for at least 2 years. Should I leave them sealed in their boxes as they came or should I take them out of their boxes before storing them in my humidor? Which is the better option?"

What people do differs a good deal, but it depends in part on how long you plan to leave your cigars in the humidor. If you won’t be keeping them in there for all that long (a few weeks or a month), you can probably just pop the box right in and leave them there. It’s highly recommended you take off the outer layer of cello first since this allows more of the humidity to seep into the box. In fact, you don’t need to keep your cigars in the box at all. Some people take them right out and just put them in the humidor individually. The main reason to keep the box in the humidor is simply for organization.

Another option is to keep the cigars in the box (with the cello layer removed), store them in the humidor, and then prop them open, either all the time or once a week or so. You don’t need to prop them open wide, just wide enough for the humidity to seep in. You can use a match or anything else to wedge the boxes open just slightly, and then the humidity from the humidor can easily get inside. You can store your cigars indefinitely this way.

Tar coming out of my cigar: what to do?

I recently received this question by e-mail from our reader George and thought I'd write a quick blog post about it:

I sometimes come across tar in liquid form coming out of the end of the cigar, why does that happen?

So this is how your disturbing experience happened. You cut the head of your cigar and noticed, after you started smoking, a dark substance oozing out. Or perhaps you didn’t even notice that it was oozing and got a little in your mouth—yuck. What is this stuff and why does it happen? What do you do about it if it happens to you?

The answer is not entirely clear or certain, but the likely explanation has to do with sap (as plant sap). The stuff oozing out of your cigar is a natural substance, presumably some excess sap from the stem or leaf of the tobacco plant which failed to evaporate during the fermentation process. So it’s mostly tobacco juice, tar, and resin. It is utterly disgusting to taste, so if you see it, you’re going to want to get rid of it. Usually the trick is to make a new cut just below where you see the resin oozing out, and this will typically get rid of it. Thankfully this doesn’t happen all that often, and you can rest assured it has nothing to do with your technique, nor does it point toward a quality problem with the cigars. It’s just a quirk of the manufacturing process that comes up now and again. Usually it’s easy to resolve, and then you can enjoy the rest of your cigar.

How to store tubo cigars: do I need a humidor?

How to store tubo cigars

I've received several questions lately regarding tubo cigars storage. I decided it was time to write a short article about this aspect of cigar care. Of course, feel free to add your insight in the comments area.

You’ve purchased a cigar and it came in one of those little storage tubes called tubos. Now you’re wondering whether you need to put your cigar in the humidor or whether the tubo is sufficient to keep it fresh. If you do need to put the cigar in the humidor, does that mean you do or don’t still need the tubo?

The key to answering this question is to look at what the tubo is really used for. While the tubo might look like it’s intended to keep the cigar fresh, its main purpose is actually just to protect your cigar from physical damage. The tubo makes it easy to carry your cigar around without worrying about dinging it up. While a tubo will temporarily keep your cigar from drying out, it won’t do it for longer than several days since tubos are not airtight (in the vast majority of cases). This would be useful if you purchased a cigar while travelling, for example, and you needed to keep the cigar fresh for a few days before you could return home to place it in your humidor. Or perhaps you’re traveling and just want to save the cigar for a couple days later on your trip—either way the tubo has you covered.

If on the other hand you’ll be storing your cigar for longer than several days, you will need to place it in the humidor or it will indeed dry out. Your next question is probably whether you should store the cigar in the humidor with the tubo on or not. There is no hard and fast rule on this, but generally speaking you need to maintain airflow to your cigar. You can either remove the cigar from the tubo entirely before placing it in the humidor, or you can leave the cigar inside the tubo but keep the cap of the tubo off. Davidoff Cigars has recognized the importance of airflow when storing cigars by designing a tubo which reveals a slit for airflow when you twist it.

If your cigar isn’t going inside a humidor and you’re planning to smoke it in a few days, then be aware that an aluminum tubo won’t preserve freshness as long as a corked or sealed glass tubo. Also, if you leave the tubo out in the sunlight or under any heat source (even just a lamp), your cigar will dry out faster.

How to revive dried cigars

How to fix dried cigars

It’s pretty easy for cigars to become dried out. Sometimes you misplace a box of cigars and forget to store them in your humidor (incredible, but it does happen). Sometimes you find a box of old cigars in your grandparents’ basement. Or your non-smoking friend tells you about his trip to Cuba seven months ago and how he brought back a box full of Behikes for your birthday. Anyway, by the time you find those cigars, they’re completely dry. The good news is that depending on how far gone they are, you may be able to bring them back, although, in most cases, somewhat short of their original quality. You’ll still be able to enjoy them, but some of their flavors may be lost. If the wrappers of the cigars are cracked or unraveling, then it’s too late to revive them (they’ll fall apart as you try to smoke them)—but if the wrappers are intact, there is a good chance you can 'repair' them. The process of reviving dried cigars is not a quick one, but with some time and patience you’ll be able to save your cigars.

There are several different techniques you can use to revive dried cigars, most of which will take you several weeks to complete. Don’t ever put your extremely dry cigars into a fully charged humidor right away. This will ruin them. It’s a good idea to equip yourself with a hygrometer which can measure moisture. This will help you to control the process of reviving the cigars and to know when the process is complete and the cigars are ready.

Technique #1

  • Get a Tupperware container or a plastic bag. Don’t use a cedar box, since wood aerates moisture, both absorbing it and releasing it at the same time. The result is that you won’t be able to build up moisture in a cedar box, which is what you need to be able to do. So use plastic instead. Tupperware containers and plastic bags both can seal, which is critical.
  • Get a sponge, or alternately oasis foam, and access to distilled water (propylene glycol works too). Start out by placing the cigars in the box or bag with the hygrometer and sealing them in. Walk away for a few hours then come back and read the humidity on the hygrometer. This will give you an idea where you’re starting from.
  • Next, place about a teaspoon of water on your sponge or oasis foam, and place that inside the box or bag with the cigars and the hygrometer.
  • Walk away again, but keep coming back to check on the process regularly. You’re waiting for the hygrometer to read 70%. Every 24 hours open up the bag and add another teaspoon of water to your sponge.
  • Once the hygrometer reaches 70%, you’ll need to maintain the humidity level in the box or bag at 65%-70% for 2-3 weeks, adding distilled water to your sponge as necessary. Every few days you’ll need to gently turn the cigars over a quarter turn.
  • After several weeks the process should be complete and the cigars revitalized.

Technique #2

  • Open the box of dried cigars and place the box in a damp location such as a cellar or crawl space where moisture gathers.
  • Keep the box of cigars in the damp place for roughly a week. You may need to do it longer if your cigars are extra dry. During that week, rotate the cigars a quarter turn every couple of days.
  • After a week or two is up (depending on the severity of the dryness you’re trying to counteract), put the cigars in your humidor at 70% humidity. Continue to rotate the cigars a quarter turn every few days. The process will be complete when every cigar has been turned the full way around at least two times.

Technique #3

If your humidor isn’t fully charged, then consider placing the cigars inside for a week. Only after a week should you consider charging the humidor fully and letting the cigars sit in the fully charged humidor. Again, never put the dried out cigars into a fully charged humidor to start with.

Technique #4

Dampen a sponge or a paper towel. Either wrap the damp paper towel around the cigar box and leave it for a week, or use the sponge to dampen the cigar box. You don’t want to get the box wet. You just want to create moisture. If you go with the sponge method, put the box in a sealed plastic bag for a couple of days. After that your cigars should be ready. This is a rush method though and it is more likely to fail than the others.

And if you don’t want to do it yourself…

Some cigar shops will actually revive dried cigars as a service to regular customers. As professionals, they are adept at providing cigars with just the right amount of humidity to restore them (some cigar stores will also store cigars for customers in humidors to keep them at the right level of humidity to begin with). This is really a good idea if you don’t feel confident about doing it yourself since you won’t risk ruining your cigars.

Techniques 1 and 2 are probably the best ones to go with if you are going to try to revive your dried cigars yourself. The last technique is probably not a great one to go with unless you’re in a big rush—but the fact is, the best results aren’t going to come with a rush job, and you’re more likely to ruin your cigars permanently if you’re in a hurry to get them back into pristine condition. Take your time reviving your dried cigars—the problem wasn’t created overnight and won’t be solved overnight. With several weeks to a month of diligence though, you should be able to revive even extremely dry cigars—always assuming they aren’t peeling apart or cracked when you start out.

Again, revived cigars will probably not be as great as they were before you (or somebody else) let them dry out. Expect some lost flavor. If you’ve never tried a particular cigar before and you try one for the first time after reviving it, chances are you won’t be getting an entirely accurate idea of its quality. It’s certainly still better than losing the cigar completely though!

PS Know any other techniques to repair dried cigars? The comment section is all yours.

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