Cigars 101

Why are my cigars burning crookedly?

Q: I have noticed that, after I light my cigar, the outer wrapper of the cigar burns unevenly and the ash may be formed on half the circumference, but the other side is still intact wrapper. Why does this occur?
— Gary Balas in Arlington Hts., IL

A: I’ve posted several Q&A’s about this. This is called “tunneling” (when only the filler and binder burn), or “canoeing” (when all the tobaccos burn only on one side.) Sounds like you’re referring to the latter, and it may have to do with several things:

  1. The general quality of the cigar.
  2. The quality of the rolling (many bundle brands, often seconds, will do this, but it also happens to the best, though rarely.)
  3. The binder, which burns the fastest of the leaves, may have been folded over itself during the rolling forcing one side of the cigar to burn more quickly than the other.

Make sure your cigars are properly humidified, well-packed (few or no soft spots along the body of the cigar), that you light your cigars as evenly as possible, and finally, try rotating your cigar as you smoke it, especially outside, where wind can cause the cigar to burn poorly.

Finally, a really cool trick that works is: Once you see it start to canoe, or your cigar burns unevenly, place the cigar in the ashtray with the non-burning side (longer side) on the bottom. If you catch it early enough, the cigar will often straighten out by itself.

Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
Salvatore ScaliseDavid FalakiRoger Lindley Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Salvatore Scalise
Salvatore Scalise

great artical

Roger Lindley
Roger Lindley

I found mine do that when I puff too often…..if I let it go about a minute between puffs, it burns evenly.

David Falaki
David Falaki

Great info. Just to add, I would also stress the lighting process is the key to success. Invest in a torch lighter and rotate during lighting

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 Liana Fuente Arturo Fuente cigars Cigar Advisor Cover

Master Blenders: Liana Fuente, VP of Brand Development – Arturo Fuente Cigars

Hear Arturo Fuente Cigars’ Liana Fuente tell us about growing-up Fuente, her passion for cigars, the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, and more in this edition of the Master Blenders podcast…

Read More
fan mail cigar questions answered part 26 cacover

Fan Mail: Your Burning Cigar Questions, Answered (Part 26)

More Fan Mail: with more readers’ cigar questions coming in, the Cigar Advisors lighten the load and answer their top 4 burning questions with a trick for cutting cigars, what your cigar’s ash color means, keeping your cigar lit and premium vs. machine made. Watch our videos now!

Read More

2018 CA Report: 10 Best Short Cigars Worth Smoking

Short in stature, tall on flavor! If you thought short cigars weren't going to smoke long enough, or weren't worth the coin that bigger cigars often command - let these ten petite primos change your mind. Our best short cigar picks will spark your interest; and from what we learned, you may be as impressed as we were.
Read More
Indomina by AJ Fernandez cigar Review CACover_

Cigar Advisor Panel: Indomina by AJ Fernandez Cigar Review – Video

He's at it again: Indomina by AJ Fernandez promises a hearty, well-rounded smoke brimming with spicy goodness. With a Nicaraguan longfiller core, Mexican binder and a gorgeous Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper, will it deliver? Our Cigar Advisor review panel lit-up this Nicaraguan - watch the video now to see our verdict!
Read More