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.

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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