Question from Peter:
Smoking Cohiba Siglo IV and 2 out of 8 smokes had these white little granules appear from the ember of the foot and into the ash. Thus, the inch and a half ash would basically be covered in white dots, and I could watch them appear from the foot as I drew on the stick. It looks like vermiculite. Any ideas what I’m smoking?
You’re smoking a cigar, you look down at the ash, and you make a startling discovery. The ash has a number of small white dots on it, each of them roughly the size of the head of a pin. Your first reaction might be revulsion—you might think they look like eggs laid by tobacco beetles. There seems to be a couple of explanations for the appearance of these little white dots, however, neither of which includes insect eggs.
- Tooth. This refers to the texture of the wrapper leaf. Some leaves are “toothier” than others, meaning they are rougher and naturally have these little bumps. If you rub the white dots and they don’t come off the wrapper leaf, it may be a “toothy” wrapper. You may also notice tooth on the wrapper before you smoke the cigar and check the ash.
- Magnesium. It is also thought that these white dots can represent mineral deposits when tobacco is grown in soil which is particularly rich in magnesium. Magnesium deposits, like tooth, are harmless, and should not impact your smoking experience.
Other common culprits for white spots on a cigar include “bloom,” or “plume,” which is a crystallization of the oils in a cigar; this is also a harmless sign that a cigar has aged. One final possibility is mold, something you should always be alert for. Cigar mold usually has a fibrous or fuzzy appearance. You can still usually salvage moldy cigars as long as the mold hasn’t spread to the filler, simply by scraping the mold off. If you do have a mold problem, check your humidor’s settings to make sure the problem doesn’t spread. While your little white dots are most likely tooth or magnesium, it is easy to confuse all these different possibilities, so it is best to be aware of all of them.