Cigars 101

How to Ash Your Cigar

It’s inevitable. You’re relaxing, enjoying the flavor and aroma of your cigar and suddenly the time comes to “ash” your cigar; in other words, tap the ash off into the ashtray. It’s possibly the most effortless thing you have to do with a cigar besides puffing. There’s no right or wrong way to ash your cigars, so let’s digress and look at the ash itself.

Cigar ashes vary in color, texture and firmness. The colors can range from a variety of light to dark grays, to a gray with black lines, to more of a marble-like pattern to almost black. The color of the ash is generally determined by the minerals in the soil in which the leaves were grown.

Ash texture can range from silky smooth, to a series of slim ringlets, to toothy, to very rough and jagged.

A firm ash is preferable to a flaky one. It will also burn longer before having to tap it off. (How many times have you let the ash go only to find it in your lap a few seconds later?) A flaky ash will sprinkle flecks on your clothes as you smoke, and if it’s windy, it will blow off before you even have a chance to tap it.

The sign of an “ideal” ash is, when you tap it into the ashtray what remains is a “cherry” (ball-like) or a cone-shaped ash (bullet-like). That means the cigar is burning well. A lot of times the ash breaks off more squarely. In that case, if you’ve still got about a quarter-of-an-inch or more of ash left, you can “roll” the ash along the inside of the ashtray to form a more cone-like ash. This can be done with longer ashes, too. Simply place the ash-end of the cigar anywhere the base and the wall of the ashtray meet, and gently turn it, rounding-out the sharp and flakier edge of the ash.

How do you know when to ash? It should be obvious, but let’s say about every ½ to ¾ of an inch or so depending on its firmness. If it’s really firm, about every inch. When you’re ready to ash your cigar, test the ash by very gently touching it against the side of the ashtray wall. If it has a decent amount of resistance, you can probably go a little longer. Some cigars will burn three, four, and even five-inch long ashes before they’re tapped or fall off under their own weight. If it’s soft, it will begin to break up once it makes contact, in which case it’s simply tap-tap and let gravity do the rest.

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

Show all Gary Korb's Articles
master blenders klaas kelner davidoff cigars interview cacover

CA Master Blenders Video Podcast: Klaas Pieter Kelner, Davidoff Brand Ambassador

His father is one of the cigar industry’s legendary master blenders; Avo was his adopted uncle, he knows the cigar business inside and out. He’s also just a really nice guy: Klaas Pieter Kelner, Davidoff Cigars Brand Ambassador, who talks with us about growing up at the heart of the business, the appreciation of a fine cigar, and more

Read More
5 things you need to know about Culebra cigars CACover

5 Things You Need to Know About… Culebra Cigars

Culebras: those snaky-looking cigars, entwined in a set of three. Hard to find and rarely made these days, but they sure are fun to smoke, especially with two friends. Culebra cigars also have an interesting back story. We dig into what makes these time-honored cigars so unique, and demonstrate how to smoke them.
Read More
por larrañaga cigar review CACover MWC

My Weekend Cigar: Mar. 5, 2018 – Por Larrañaga 1834 Toro

Looking for a mellow morning cigar? I found it in My Weekend Cigar: the Por Larrañaga 1834 Toro. Ultra-smooth with a mild, nutty spiciness, this 6 x 50 did the trick alongside my morning cup(s) of coffee. See what else I have to say about My Weekend Cigar, in this short review!
Read More
top cigar events 2016 cover

CA Special Report: The 5 Most Extraordinary Cigar Events of 2016

It's our look back at 2016's most extraordinary cigar events: FDA vs. Premium Cigars, Cubans, and more big news that affected cigar lovers this past year.
Read More