Common cigar burning problems & how to fix them

Whether you’re a seasoned cigar smoker or just a newbie, cigar burn issues happen to the best of us. Be it canoeing, tunnelling, spitting or more, cigar burns are deeply frustrating and ultimately affect the smoking experience. While they’re a common problem, they can still be remedied. Take a look at the most common cigar burning problems and how you can fix them. 

How does an uneven burn happen with a cigar?

An uneven burn in a cigar can occur due to various factors throughout the smoking process. One primary cause is the construction of the cigar itself. If the filler tobacco is not evenly distributed within the cigar or packed too loosely, it can result in an uneven burn. Similarly, if the wrapper leaf is wrapped too tightly or has imperfections, it may hinder the burn’s even progression.

Inadequate lighting techniques can also contribute to an uneven burn. If the foot of the cigar is not evenly and thoroughly lit, it can cause certain areas to burn faster than others.

Likewise, the way a cigar is smoked can also impact the burn. Taking puffs too quickly or irregularly can result in an uneven burn, while a relaxed and steady puffing rate allows the cigar to burn more consistently.

Furthermore, environmental factors can also influence burn consistency. Windy conditions can disrupt the burn line, while high humidity levels can make the cigar burn slower and unevenly.

What is cigar canoeing?

Cigar canoeing refers to an uneven burn where one side of the cigar burns faster than the other, creating a protruding cone shape resembling a canoe. It can occur due to several factors, such as unevenly packed filler tobacco, improper lighting, or insufficient humidity. 

To fix canoeing, gently roll or rotate the cigar between your fingers to encourage the slower-burning side to catch up. Applying heat to the uneven side can also help even out the burn line – but be cautious not to speed up the burn on the affected side. In more extreme cases, you can cut the cigar just past the affected area and then inhale slowly to reduce harmful smells and flavours that may have lingered. Finally, if the cigar is too dry, placing it in a humidor can restore moisture and improve the burn. 

What is cigar tunnelling?

Cigar tunnelling, also known as coning, occurs when the centre of the cigar burns faster than the outer layers, creating a hollow tunnel-like effect. This issue typically results from uneven packing or a poor draw, which causes the inner portion of the cigar to burn more rapidly. 

The most effective way to prevent tunnelling is to puff on your cigar to ensure the wrapper does not get too cool. If you suspect that a tunnel has already formed,  even up the burn by lighting the outside tobacco with your lighter and begin smoking at a slightly faster rate. Just like a canoe burn issue, if your cigar is too far gone, allow your cigar to cool and go out, then cut and re-light to resume your smoke.

What is cigar splitting?

Cigar splitting refers to a burn issue where the wrapper leaf of the cigar begins to crack or split during the smoking process. This can occur due to various factors, including excessive moisture, uneven expansion of the tobacco, or a sudden temperature change. 

To repair a split cigar, ensure that your cigars are correctly humidified. Overly moist cigars can expand rapidly and cause the wrapper to split. Monitoring and maintaining a suitable humidity level, typically around 70% in your humidor, is crucial. Additionally, avoid exposing cigars to sudden changes in temperature or humidity, as these fluctuations can contribute to splitting. Gradual acclimation to different environments is essential!

What is a mousehole burn? 

Finally, another cigar burn issue you may encounter is a mousehole burn – a small blackened circle in the side of the wrapper above the burn line. A mousehole burn is typically caused by a pocket or tunnel in the filler tobacco on one side of your cigar, making it burn fast on one side and not at all on the other. 

To address a mousehole burn, there are a few potential remedies. One approach is to press gently and hold the hole against the ash to create a temporary seal. This can help prevent excessive air intake through the hole and minimise any adverse effects on the smoking experience. Another option is to apply a small amount of saliva to the mousehole to act as a sealant – although this may alter the cigar’s taste.

While these remedies may help mitigate the issue temporarily, they’re not permanent fixes. Mousehole burns are typically the result of a manufacturing defect or inconsistency in the tobacco, and fixing them may be challenging. 

An uneven burn can be a frustrating situation to encounter. However, with our quick fixes for an uneven burn, you should hopefully be able to resume your smoke in no time.