7 common cigars burn issues & how to fix them

February 8, 2024

There’s nothing worse than experiencing burning issues with your cigar. If a cigar doesn’t burn the right way, it can ruin the flavor, aroma, and the whole smoking experience.

Thankfully, cigar burn problems are common, and plenty are fixable with a little patience. Whether you’re a new smoker or have experienced these issues in the past, we recommend getting to know the seven common cigar burn issues and how to fix them.

 

 

The importance of a proper cigar burn

A proper cigar burn is essential for ensuring all the delicious components of the cigar (wrapper, binder, filler) are evenly lit. They then work together to divulge all notes, aromas, and subtleties to your palate.

Smoking a cigar should be a smooth operation. From toasting the foot of the cigar and taking your final puff, this experience should be seamless.

Sadly, not everything can be consistently perfect all the time, and like with everything, smoking cigars carries common problems. If your smoking experience isn’t providing effortless, delightful flavors, this could be a sign something is wrong.

 

 

 

 

The most common cigar burn problems

To know how to fix common cigar burn issues, you first need to identify the different problems.

 

Cigar tunneling

Tunneling is quite a common issue but it can be easily fixed. Cigar tunneling happens when the wrapper cools down or goes out while the filter keeps burning, causing a hole or tunnel in the cigar.

One way to prevent this is to ensure you puff consistently to prevent the wrapper from cooling.

You will need to torch the wrapper leaf. If this happens, always check if the tunnel is longer than a centimeter. For this we’d recommend throwing it out and starting over. If it’s shorter, clip the end and light it again.

 

Cigar coning

This issue is like tunneling but in the opposite way. Cigar coning happens when the wrapper burns faster than the tobacco, causing the long ash to shape into a cone and appear on the end of the cigar.

To prevent this from happening, we recommend smoking your cigar slowly. Set your cigar down to let it cool for a minute or two, and then smoke slower when you resume enjoying it.

 

Cigar canoeing

Cigar canoeing happens when a cigar is humidified unevenly or lit incorrectly. It can appear as a divergence in the burn lines, which can sometimes be severe. To prevent this, rotate your cigar while smoking. The rotation of the cigar allows the ash to heat at a more even pace.

To fix canoeing, either choose the side burning more slowly and light it or use a little moisture on the side burning faster.

Cigar splitting

Cigar splitting can happen for a few reasons, including smoking too fast, which cranks up the heat, or the cigar being over-humidified. Whatever the reason, this can still provide an unpleasant smoking experience.

If you start to notice your cigar splitting, try to slow down and enjoy the pleasantness of your cigar. Should you believe your cigar needs some extra attention in your humidor, look at the percentage in which your cigars are stored. This will guide you in resolving the problem.

Mouse hole burn

The mouse hole burn appears exactly as it sounds. It’s a small, blackened circle in the side of the wrapper above the burn line, which can then lead to a hole in the sidewall of the wrapper.

A mouse hole burn is typically caused by a tiny pocket or tunnel in the filler tobacco on one side of your cigar. This makes the cigar burn fast while the other side is hardly burning at all. To fix it, you can follow our recommended fix for canoeing, but mouse holes rarely get out of control.

A peeling wrapper

Sometimes, when you pick up your stogies, you may come across a damaged, cracked, or peeling wrapper, and there’s not much you could have done to prevent it.

However, if you have some lip balm or pectin, you can mix them with water to form a bond (like cigar glue) that you can use to seal a crack. When you’ve done this, ensure you let it dry well, and the cigar should be good to smoke.

Runners

A runner is when your cigar has a large vein in one of the wrappers. When it starts to burn, the vein travels down the cigar within minutes.

To fix this problem, apply a little moisture to the area of the wrapper that is right behind the runner. Finally, the cigar can catch up, and this technique slows down the runner.

Top tips for preventing cigar burn issues

Thankfully, none of these problems are the end of the world — just inconveniences. As we’ve already gone through, almost all these burning cigar problems can be fixed.

However, if you want to be one step ahead, it can help to know what you can do to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Proper storage

Proper storage is essential for any cigar enthusiast. A humidor is a vault to lock and safely store your stogies. It’s designed to provide your premium cigar collection with a pristine environment at the proper humidity to ensure they remain fresh and ready to smoke. We’d recommend investing in a good-quality humidor if you haven’t already.

Cutting techniques

When cutting your cigar, you require not only technique but also the expertise of a cigar cutter. If you use a knife, scissors, or something not designed for the delicacy of your cigar, this could cause some of these common problems to arise.

Cigar cutters are available in multiple shapes, can accommodate different cigars in thickness and length, and, more importantly, won’t damage the important elements of your cigar.

 

Lighting correctly

Sparking up a stogie is different from lighting a wick candle. A little patience is key, and mistakes can happen, so try not to let them ruin the enjoyable process. Aim to do it the same way you toast a marshmallow over a campfire. Be gentle, but don’t let the flame touch.

Then, carefully rotate your cigar to toast all the edges until you can see a glowing ring around the cigar head. Take your first puff to experience true smokers’ delight.

Work on your smoking technique

Before picking up a stogie, ensure you know how to smoke a cigar. This information can help you navigate where the problem is if you experience some of the common cigar burn issues.

Regardless of your smoking experience level, slow and steady is the best way to appreciate the nuanced notes of a delicious premium cigar.

We’d recommend aiming to draw on your stogie every 60-120 seconds. This way, you can be confident that you’re not smoking too fast and won’t experience any of these unpleasant cigar issues.

None of these problems are the end of the world — they are just minor inconveniences. The good news is that almost every situation has a fix, and if you know what to do, you can sit back and forget about all your troubles while smoking a flavorful cigar.

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