If you have smoked cigars long enough, chances are you have encountered one that didn’t burn properly. From canoeing to tunneling to burn holes to an uneven burn, there is no shortage of pitfalls that can make smoking a cigar less of a pleasure and more of a chore. In this Cigars 101 Guide, we’ll cover the most common causes of these burn issues, how to deal with them, and how to avoid them altogether.
For starters, it’s important to mention that cigars are a handmade, agricultural product. For that reason, you can expect to deal with burn issues occasionally from even the most prestigious manufacturers. This is especially true with canoeing, which usually starts with a “run” in the cigar wrapper that grows into a much larger problem.
The cause of these runs generally boils down to either an incorrectly bunched cigar, which causes one side to burn at a faster rate, or a prominent vein in the wrapper, which can act as a fuse of sorts, igniting the wrapper tobacco surrounding it. Unfortunately, your options in these cases are limited to wetting the fast-burning spot, or allowing the cigar to go out before re-cutting and lighting it.
Burn holes on the wrapper can also cause these runners. These are relatively small burn holes that appear on the wrapper below the burn line, caused by an incorrect bunch, usually a small pocket or void where there is no tobacco.
Having said all that, construction issues like these are rare. Most cigar manufacturers are serious about quality assurance. The plain fact is that user error probably accounts for 80-90% of cigar burn issues.
This includes both improper smoking technique and improper humidification. If you experience a blistered, thick burn line, an overly wavy burn, or a cigar that just won’t stay lit, odds are your cigars are being stored above the ideal humidity range: no higher than 72 Rh, though stronger cigars tend to perform more favorably when stored in the 60-65% humidity range.
If, however, you find that your cigars are burning entirely too fast and are extremely hot, then your cigars are most likely under-humidified. Once cigars lose enough moisture, it becomes difficult or even impossible to restore them to their former glory. Your best bet is to maintain a healthy humidor by checking your cigars periodically.
Likewise, if you find that your cigars are consistently burning unevenly or are bitter, odds are you’re over-smoking. Smoking too fast causes bitter flavors and tar buildup, not to mention incomplete combustion of the tobaccos. For best results, smoke slowly…your cigars will thank you.