Troubleshooting Common Cigar Problems

The finest things in life are finicky. Making good food takes deliberation, taste and trial-and-error testing. And brewing good beer, distilling quality spirits or making world-class wine involves dialing in several minute and precise factors.

Naturally, cigars require similar attention to detail – care and meticulousness to ensure they perform at their peak. Before a cigar arrives at your local shop, it’s already gone through time-honored processes of growing, sorting, curing and hand-rolling. As the new owner, steward and enjoyer of this product, your job is to ensure that all that hard work pays off.

If you’re curious about how to get the most bang for your cigar buck, and how to avoid common cigar-related problems, you’ve arrived at the right article. Below, you’ll find three common cigar problems alongside troubleshooting for reviving your cigar.

Dry Cigars

Dryness is the most common issue plaguing beginner cigar aficionados. Some assume that you can buy a cigar, leave it in its tube or (worse) naked, and it will retain its freshness. Unfortunately, cigars are natural, organic products that – like any other leaf or plant material – will dry out with exposure to dry environments. If your cigar feels dry or crackly when you pinch it, or it burns too quickly, draws too harshly or tastes bitter, you’re dealing with a dried-out cigar.

Thankfully, all is not lost. The key with dried cigars is to reintroduce moisture slowly. The best way to troubleshoot a dried cigar is by placing it in an airtight container or humidor bag with a Boveda humidity control packet. They’re easy to find and inexpensive, a standard in the world of cigars. Look for a packet with 69% RH (relative humidity) and store the cigar for four to six weeks before enjoying.

In the future, invest in various Boveda RH packets and a quality at-home humidor.

Peeling Wrappers

The next most common problem with a cigar is peeling. Peeling can happen for several reasons. Your cigar might be overly dry (see above). The wrapper might have been physically jostled, either in transit or by a particularly emphatic tapping. Or the instrument you use to cut the cigar tip might be too blunt, thereby squeezing rather than shearing the wrapper.

If you’re dealing with a small crack or peel, the solution is relatively straightforward. Invest in some flavorless, food-safe rolling glue to stick the wrapper back on. If you’ve reached this article in a panic, without access to rolling glue, a little dab of honey works in a pinch.


Canoeing occurs when one end of the cigar combusts quicker than the other. The effect – an ember burning down one side but not the other – resembles a crude canoe shape, hence the name. Canoeing is typically the result of an improperly lit cigar; the user hasn’t lit the foot evenly, so the flame only catches on one side. However, canoeing can occasionally be the fault of the roller. Remember, these are individually hand-rolled products prone to human error; a roller might pack the cigar too tightly for an even draw.

Don’t panic. And definitely don’t keep drawing to try and “even out” the problem. The best way to fix a canoe is to catch it early, lighting the unlit side in an attempt to force an even ember. Continuing canoeing can indicate a rolling problem. In this case, snuff the ember and return the cigar to the shop where you purchased it. Most quality cigar shops will inspect the issue and happily offer a refund or replacement.

If you’re just getting into the world of cigars, don’t be intimidated. Like all of life’s finest things, cigars take a little foreknowledge and care to enjoy. But with the right tools, moisture control and know-how, you can enjoy a superior product every time.

Shield Yourself Now

Lewis Gordon is a successful businessman living in Boston, Massachusetts. When he’s not working, he enjoys travelling – especially tasting other cuisines, scuba diving, watching and playing soccer. Lewis also has a love of dogs and is the proud owner of an English Setter.

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