Cigars 101

How to Deal With a Tight Draw

How To Fix a Cigar with a Tight Draw

Updated June 2020

You’re about to light up that cigar you’ve been looking forward to all day, when you realize the cigar won’t draw. Doesn’t matter how good everyone says it tastes if you can’t taste anything.

It’s happened to all of us at one point or another. But if it’s happening to you regularly, there are some game-changing fixes that will give your troublesome cigars a new lease on life.

To fix a tight draw, we must first find out what caused it.

What causes a bad or tight draw in a cigar?

There are three primary suspects:

Check out this quick video to fix your tight draw!

1. The Cigar is Over-Humidified

Basically, it means your cigars are too wet, and while it can happen any time of year, the issue is most prevalent in the summer months. All the excess humidity in the air, especially in coastal areas, will make its way into your humidor. If you overlook it, your cigars will start having burning issues. They may be hard to keep lit, burning down one side, or difficult to draw, but all of these symptoms are warning signs of too much humidity. Here’s how to fix it.

How to Fix an over-humidified cigar:

Humidity Fix 1: If you’re using older humidifiers with propylene glycol beads, or even just distilled water, try removing one at a time (if you’re using multiples).

Humidity Fix 2: If you only have one humidifier, leave your humidor open for an hour or two to let some excess humidity out. This will allow some to evaporate from your cigars, too.

Humidity Fix 3: Dry box your cigars. This involves taking an empty cigar box (most shops will just give one to you) and placing the cigars inside anywhere from a few hours to a few days – depending on just how wet they are. The wood interior will be more effective at soaking up excess moisture, and this technique is especially effective for cigars that are stubbornly damp.

Humidity Fix 4: If you haven’t done so already, make the switch to a two-way system like Boveda. Not only do these humidifiers keep your cigars’ thirst quenched, but they remove moisture if there’s too much. Plus, the packs are cheap. On top of all that, they remove humidity slowly and gradually, the preferred speed of a natural product like this.

2. The Cigar has Construction Issues

These are easier to notice. Basically, the cigar won’t have much give. It should have a little ‘bounce’ to it when you press on it, and spring right back to shape. If it doesn’t move much – or at all – it was probably too tightly rolled.

How to Fix a Cigar That’s Rolled Too Tight:

Gently roll the cigar in between your fingers and your thumb down the entire length of the cigar. Doing this should loosen the tobacco inside and promote better airflow. You may need to do this more than once.

How Do I Know if a Cigar is Plugged?

Plugs are uncommon, but they have nothing to do with you or your humidor. What happened is that a large piece of tobacco stem or vein is lodged in the cigar and was missed during quality control. It’s kind of like drinking a cookies and cream milkshake and getting a piece of Oreo stuck in your straw. No more milkshake ‘til you get it out.

how to deal with a cigar with a tight draw twig stem or plug tobacco
I found this monster plug (looks like a middle stem) in a cigar last year. I was able to pull it out directly from the head. An occurrence like this is very rare.

How to fix a plugged cigar:

First, you have to find the plug’s location. If there were any hard spots that didn’t work themselves out from rolling the cigar between your fingers, a plug is the likely culprit. No matter how much you roll it, the spot is going to stay firm. The bad news is that you can’t get it out. The good news is that you can bore right through and bypass it altogether.

For this, you’ll need a draw poker. Place the tip dead center on the head of your cigar, apply firm, even pressure downward, and keep the poker as straight as possible.

how to fix a plugged cigar tight draw with a draw poker

You’ll know once you’ve gone through the plug because there will be less resistance. Pull the draw poker back out and repeat the process for good measure. You can do this from the foot if the plug is closer to it, but you may be better off cutting the cigar behind it and relighting.

If you don’t have a draw poker, you can use a (clean) grilling skewer, a straightened paper clip, and even a pair of scissors. Here’s a video that shows how to do it with scissors (jump to 3:38).

3. The Cigar was Cut or Lit Improperly

Let’s start with cutting a cigar. If you don’t cut enough of your cigar’s head off – especially when it comes to Belicosos and Torpedoes – you’ll get an inadequate draw. New smokers tend to cut too much off at first, and then learn the hard way how to properly cut their cigars. The problem is, when they apply the practice of less is more to tapered-head cigars, they don’t get much draw. Tapered cigars have much more wiggle room in their cutting areas, and I’d encourage you to cut more off the top to get a smoother draw. Check out this guide below to see what I’m talking about.

how to fix a cigar with a tight draw how to cut a torpedo cigar
Note: the cutting line shown here is a good starting point. Though there’s more room, you can still cut off too much. Start here and you should be getting better airflow; increase in small cuts as desired for your perfect draw.

And finally, there’s properly lighting a cigar. If you don’t have it fully lit, you’ll think you have a tough draw, but really, you’re just not producing much smoke. To make sure you’re burning properly, check out Nick Perdomo’s thorough video on it.

There you have it! You now possess the tools to make difficult draws a thing of the past. If you have a tip or trick not mentioned here that helps you, pass it along in the comments so we can share the wealth.