How to Repair Cigars with Peeling and Cracked Wrappers

It happens. You reach into your humidor for that great cigar you’ve been looking forward to all day and you notice the wrapper is starting to peel away from the roll. If you light-up, the peel will only get worse. So what can you do? Using saliva seems like a practical solution, but rarely, if ever, works. Some cigar smokers also resort to using bee’s wax-based lip balm, but there are no guarantees with that either because it never really dries.

Acacia helps fix cracked cigar wrappersUnraveling cigars are best fixed with acacia powder, better known as gum arabic, or vegetable gum. This is what cigar rollers use for preparing the wrapper leaf and cap when they roll cigars. Gum arabic, which can be found in the baking aisle at some supermarkets, spice shops, and online, comes in powdered form. When mixed with distilled water to the right consistency, it can be a real life saver, or to put it another way, a real cigar saver. It’s also odorless and colorless. Simply apply a modest amount of the liquefied gum to the wrapper and carefully “roll” the detached portion of wrapper leaf back into place.

Another product that can be used for repairing unraveling wrappers is Pectin. Pectin comes in both powder and liquid form, and you might already have some in the house. Normally used for canning jams and jellies, when applied carefully to the wrapper leaf as described above, you should get similar results.

What about cigars that are cracked in the middle or at the foot?

When a cigar is cracked in the middle, in some cases it may be minor, but any crack in a wrapper leaf, no matter how small, is going to leak smoke and may negatively affect the way the cigar draws and burns.

The best way to repair this type of crack is to take a small piece of wrapper leaf (it could come from a cigar stub of the same blend or another cigar with the same type of wrapper leaf),
and use it to “patch” the crack, not unlike the way you’d fix a blown tire.

First, cut a piece of wrapper leaf to the approximate size you need to completely cover the crack. Then lightly wet the piece of wrapper leaf with gum arabic solution, paste it over the trouble spot and let it dry. In the meantime, go get another cigar.

If the crack starts at the foot of the cigar, first see how far up the length of the cigar the crack goes. If it’s less than an inch you might be better off cutting the cigar as cleanly as possible just above the crack. The cigar will be shorter, but you might still be able to get a decent smoke out of it. If you go that route, make sure you use a really sharp and powerful double blade cigar cutter. If the body of the cigar fits comfortably in the hole and the cutter is very sharp, snap the cutter as quickly as possible for a clean cut. Sometimes you get a rough edge, but it’s better than tossing the cigar.

If you’d rather not take any chances, repeat the process described above for repairing a crack in the middle of a cigar.

Remember, if the wrapper is cracked and you don’t have gum arabic or pectin, there is very little you can do to repair it. By having a small jar of gum arabic in the house, at least you know there’s hope.

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  1. Wes T. (mobarbq) says:

    I have successfully used a small amount of real honey (not honey “sauce” like from KFC) smeared along the edge of the ravel, and then let it dry. It gives off a bit of a caramel smell when you later smoke the cigar. Maybe just another idea.

  2. Patrick Hughes says:

    I have read that milk works.

  3. Richard Kelly says:

    Interesting but what causes the wrapper to detach and unfold like that? Is it because it is kept too dry or too humid or is it just a problem with the cigar itself?

  4. Gary Korb says:

    Hi Richard,
    Actually, both overly dry and overly moist cigars can unravel, but a dry cigar is more likely to unfurl. And to totally confuse you, yes, sometimes a bad rolling job will cause a cigar to come apart. ;-)

  5. Ken E. says:

    Cool info, I have a very nice, aged cigar from a “south of Florida” Island that needs a repair. This tip wil surely help with that.

  6. Adrian says:

    Interesting, I will try this method and see how it comes out. I will also try the honey and milk that was posted in the comments.

  7. Byron says:

    Gum Arabic is hard to find, and over-priced if you do — Hobby Lobby sells small bottles in the artist supplies dept. for $14.99. But there in the same store is Elmer’s School Glue. Not the white paste, but a clear, non-toxic product from China that seems identical to Gum Arabic, except very slightly thicker and lacking the yellowish color — and it’s five ounces for $2.50, enough for several lifetimes. If you doubt they’re the same thing, rub a little of each between your fingers and see for yourself.

  8. Leonard says:

    Cracks on the mouth-end of cigars, I always repair using rolling paper.

    Just ask your kid who smokes secretly for two rolling papers per cracked cigar, otherwise buy at wallmart ;). Then stick one rolling paper all the way around the cigar, just above the start of the crack. Then cut off the sticky part of the second rolling paper and apply to the open side of the first rolling paper, to seal it. When I smoke this repaired cigar I apply some lip-balm or vaseline to my lips to keep the rolling paper from sticking to my lips.

    This method works perfectly for cracks at the mouth-end of the cigar, does not change the flavor and can be done with cheap supplies from any local shop.

  9. Sam says:

    @ Leonard. Great idea it saved my Cohiba!