Cigars 101

How to Get Rid of “Cigar Mouth”

Cigar Mouth – How to Get Rid of That After-Cigar Taste

by Gary Korb

In all the years I’ve been smoking cigars, I’ve rarely come across a fellow cigar smoker who had bad breath from doing so. I’m talking about that nauseatingly putrid, so awful I have to turn my head away, week-old road kill-level breath. However, there is one thing that most cigar smokers experience; it’s called “cigar mouth,” or “ashtray breath,” that lingering taste of your last cigar on your palate.

Although there is no one single product or procedure that will entirely remove the taste of a cigar, there are several things you can do to minimize it.

A tried-and-true method for combatting cigar mouth is to drink something made with citric acid. Tonics work better than the lighter fruit-flavored, carbonated waters. Bitter Lemon is the most effective, yet Bitter Lime and Tonic Water with quinine will do the job.  The key here is the citric acid, which can cut up to 90% of the cigar taste in your mouth.

vodka tonic to cure cigar mouth
When life hands you lemons…make a vodka tonic – it’s a very effective palate cleanser.

I pair some of my cigars with vodka & tonic and a splash of Rose’s Lime Juice,  since it leaves a clean feeling on my palate between puffs. Sometimes I don’t add the vodka, but the alcohol does add a little extra grease cutter.

If you don’t like the bitter aftertaste of tonics, try drinking them with some cheese. Harder, sharper cheeses seem to work best.

Most bad breath comes from food residue on your tongue, like garlic breath, for example. Brushing your teeth and your tongue, will remove a good amount of cigar slime, but if you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, pick up a tongue scraper. (Dentists often give them out along with a new toothbrush, floss, etc., after a cleaning.)

get rid of cigar mouth with a Tongue scraper
A tongue scraper is a great way to get rid of that lingering after-cigar taste. Try it – your palate will thank you.

If you don’t already have a tongue scraper, you can purchase one at most pharmacies; they come in several styles, too. The one I have looks like a little plastic saw with tiny teeth and hollow, spoon-shaped ends for your fingers.  The scraper has a “soft” side and a “regular” side. The “soft” side has smoother teeth, so when you scrape your tongue (from back to front), you’ll feel a light pressure as the scraper works its way forward. Now try the “regular” side. You’ll notice that the teeth are much sharper and you’ll feel a noticeable difference. When you’re done, clean the gunk off of the scraper by rinsing it under hot water, or with an antibacterial mouthwash.

Finally, if you’re away from home, “curiously strong” after-dinner mints, hard candy sour balls, or hot cinnamon balls will go a long way. However, experience has taught me that digging into a box and firing up another cigar too close to finishing that mint will kill the flavor of your cigar.

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.

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