You hope it never happens, but one day when you least expect it…BAM!, your cigar begins to unravel on you. Your heartbeat increases; your mind becomes cluttered with frustration. “How am I going to smoke this cigar now?” you ask yourself. The last thing you want to do is trash it, especially if it’s a favorite, a pricey primo, or both.
The unraveling wrapper is one of those snafus that’s hard to fix unless you just happen to have some roller’s glue, and most cigar smokers don’t own a bottle of roller’s glue. The good news is, depending on how and where the cigar is unraveling there are several ways you can repair it, and you don’t have to be a torcedor either. Just keep in mind that whichever method you use, be it the remedies listed here, or your own invention, wrapper leaf can be very delicate, so caution and patience are the keys to getting the job done right. Finally, NEVER use spit; it just doesn’t work.
Remedy No.1: Lip Balm
Though it may seem a bit far-fetched, lip balms such as ChapStick®, Burt’s Bees®, Vaseline®, etc., make a good emergency tool for repairing unraveling cigars. First, make sure the balm is not flavored or mentholated, otherwise you’ll taste it, especially if the repair is at the head-end of the cigar. Rather than go into detail here, watch this video that my fellow Cigar Advisor Jonathan Detore made on Cigar Wrapper Repair. It will also show you how to apply your repair substance of choice.
Remedy No.2: Honey
Honey also comes in handy for emergency repairs. It sure is sticky enough, and will hold that wrapper down when carefully applied. The only downside is, honey doesn’t dry very quickly, so you want to use as little as possible and wipe away any excess honey that oozes out. If the repair is at the head, you’ll probably taste it, but it shouldn’t affect the flavor of the cigar that much, if at all. I also recommend using a small paintbrush (like that used for watercolors), for applying honey rather than your finger since you could tear the wrapper even more when using the latter method.
Remedy No.3: Gummy bears and similar gummy candies
I’m probably setting myself up for some ribbing here, but the following is a true story…
Recently, I had an unfurling wrapper leaf twice in as many weeks. In the past, I’ve used just about everything short of duct tape to repair an unraveled wrapper leaf: spit, honey, maple syrup, lip balm, coffee with cream & sugar, cola – anything that was sticky enough to hold down the leaf long enough to finish my cigar; sometimes with success, but more often without.
As for these two unfurling instances: the first, a CAO CX2 Robusto, the second, a Flores y Rodriguez Unicos. They were just too good to let them die a premature death. I searched around for a solution with no luck. Little did I know that the answer to my problem was right under my nose.
In one of my desk drawers I had a bottle of fiber gummies. If you’re familiar with gummy candy like gummy bears, they’re made with gelatin, which is made from pectin. The fiber gummies are just like the candy bears except they have some other ingredients and are cube-shaped. When wet they become very sticky. So, now for the solution…
I placed the damaged cigar on my desk, then wet the gummy (you can use saliva or water). The wrapper had unfurled enough to get the gummy under it, and I used it to gently wipe the affected area of the cigar. If the wrapper is thick enough, sometimes you can wipe it on the underside of the unfurling leaf, but you risk tearing it. Here again, you might want to use a small paintbrush dipped in water first. It will also help you get into any tight spaces more easily. The trick is, you want the gummy wet enough to get a good coating. Following the application I carefully “rolled” the wrapper back in place and, voila! – it took and it held-up. Go figure. Even if you can repair only part of the loose wrapper, it’s better than smoking binder.
The next time you’re in the candy section of the supermarket, pickup some gummy candies for snacking and leave a few around for cigar repair emergencies. Hey, you never know.
Remedy No.3: Make your own roller’s glue
I saved the best homemade recipe for last. Most roller’s glue is clear and made from gum arabic, but you can also use pectin. You’ll find it in the baking aisle of the supermarket. It’s a white powder that thickens when water is added to it. I recently made some myself and it works like a charm. All you need is a tiny glass vial or small plastic Rx vial, pectin, distilled water, and something to stir with.
1) Fill the vial about halfway with distilled water.
2) Add 1 tsp. of pectin and stir the mixture thoroughly with something thin and sturdy like a swizzle stick (I used a chopstick). The mixture will be milky in color.
3) Keep stirring until ALL of the pectin has dissolved. If the mixture is too thin, add 1/4 teaspoon of pectin and stir again. Keep adding a 1/4 teaspoon of pectin and stirring until it thickens to a consistency that’s similar to fresh honey. You’ll notice that in a few weeks, the mixture will begin to clear up.
4) Apply to the wrapper as directed above, preferably using a small paint brush, and you’re in business!
May your cigars always be fresh and their wrappers trouble-free; but just in case…keep this blog handy.