Cigars 101

How to Deal With a Tight Draw

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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: 

  1. Over-humidification  
  2. Construction issues / plugs 
  3. Inadequate cuts / lights 

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 watertry 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 cheapOn 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 cigarIf 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. 

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James Sullivan
7 years ago

First time it happened to me.

Sonny Brady
7 years ago

A skewer stick makes a good “draw poker.”

Steve Fye
3 years ago
Reply to  Sonny Brady

I use a wooden rounded toothpick. The square toothpicks can leave slivers of wood inside the cigar and you don’t want that. If it’s too far in, a skewer would work better, but toothpicks are much cheaper.

Jared Gulick
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Fye

That’s a great idea, Steve!

Giovanni Hendriksen
5 years ago

Had a box of RyJ Belvederes and over half of them didn’t draw at all even with a long wooden skewer it didn’t get better…very frustrating !

John Romano D'Orazio
4 years ago

I recently had a cigar with a tight draw, tried looking it with a paper clip but didn’t help. Then I squeezed it a little between my teeth as I was drawing and voila, it began to draw better! Furthermore I accidentally inhaled through my nose a bit while drawing and noticed a very pleasant flavor. I’m sure that depends on the cigar but I wound up enjoying this tight draw cigar very much!

Smoke shop Tega Cay
4 years ago

According to famous smoke shop in Tega Cay tight draw leads to the breaking of cigar and to avoid this type of mistake you can gently open the cap from the cigar and put in one way so to avoid its mistake of opening and closing the cigar in a safe manner.

Rev bIGhIG
3 years ago

Get a PerfecDraw poker. The spikey harpoon-like tip pulls out plugs, doesn’t just push them to the sides where they heat up and expand again.
Always does the trick, highly recommended.

Gary Korb
3 years ago
Reply to  Rev bIGhIG

I have an Havana Draw poker I got years ago. I has a “diamond cut” pattern area on the shaft that cuts through tough tobacco.

Jared Gulick
3 years ago
Reply to  Rev bIGhIG

Thanks for the tip, Rev! John got me a really nice one with the same type of design. Very helpful!

1 year ago

The best fix of all, that I recently discovered:

Just carefully follow the seam from the lit end down. Then carefully unroll the outer leaf, starting a the draw end, do this with the cigar on a table.
Unroll it about 1/2 way and gently break up just a bit of the tobacco without disturbing
the over all shape. Then roll the outer leave back up, lick or wet the last quarter
of the outer leaf to seal the cigar. I then roll it in my hands but in the
direction the outer leaf so as to tighten it. In a pinch you can use a tiny bit
of tape, if the cigar wants to keep unrolling.

It takes a few cigars to get the hang of this, but once you do, you can turn a crappy
cigar into a fantastic one!

8 months ago

There is a video to tough for me to see,

Jared Gulick

Jared Gulick

Features Editor, Jared Gulick, is a Certified Tobacconist, nerd of all things science, musician and serial abuser of the Oxford comma. He made his way to the Famous Smoke Shop retail store in 2018 and joined the Advisors when it was discovered that he could locate the shift key. Prior to his work in the cigar industry, he was a recording studio engineer, songwriter, and a journalism major at Northampton Community College.

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