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.

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4 Comments on “How to Deal with Mold on Cigars and in the Humidor”

  1. An other way to distinguish mold from plumb is to wipe it off with your finger, rub it between finger an thumb and smell it. Mold has a distinct smell. We’ve all smelled it before. Plumb will have no smell or smell like ceder or your cigar.

  2. KimberlyErskine says:

    This was a really interesting article to read. I like that you described both mold and plumb. This could probably help save others who may think their cigars are moldy when in reality it’s just plumb from throwing them out. Great tips on preventing mold, too!

  3. Aldo Mombello says:

    Dear aficionados, mould is a great problem but “bicho” Lsioderma Serricorne larval stage is an other great problem I have studied this problem the first god thing is conserve cigars at temperature under 18°C/70°F. If your cigars are contaminated there are many soluctions that I know the firs is put out of humidor boxes with bichos frozen them under -10-20C° and after smoking becouse low temperature block cigar natural evolution and could damage them, the second is an hormonal weapon and other that I could write if editor want it.

  4. I had a very bad mold situation in one of my humidors. My family was out of town for a week during very hot and humid summer and the temperature went up to 95F with humidity in the house close to 80. :
    Upon returning I found some of the cigars covered in mold from the cap to the foot and the mold was covering the foot trying to get inside cigars, or may be it did.
    I wiped the mold from the wrapper with a soft dry cloth and “toasted” slightly the foot with a wide flame lighter running the flame gently until the mold disappeared, but the tobacco was intact. Then put those cigars in a dry humidor for two days, before putting them back to 72 humidity. One month later I smoked some of those cigars with a few friends and they were perfect. DON’T trow cigars even when the foot gets moldy. Use the flame as described.

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