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Cigar 101

How to Fix & Prevent Cigar Canoeing

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Whoa! You just lit up and part of your cigar is burning like the back tires on a car at the Indy 500 while the rest of the ash is hanging around the starting line. Before you panic, your cigar is canoeing. Most cigars canoe a little in the beginning but will straighten out after a few minutes. Be patient and don’t rush to any conclusions by incinerating the entire foot of your cigar with a close-up dose of heat from your torch lighter. You’ll likely only make things worse.

An Under-Filled Cigar

When a cigar is canoeing, it will burn unevenly. Part of the cigar will burn hotter and faster than the rest and it can start to look like a canoe with the center burnt out (or hollowed out), hence the term. There are a handful of reasons why a cigar will canoe. The main one is that the cigar was rolled incorrectly or it is under-filled. When you draw on an under-filled cigar, oxygen and air pass through the loosest part of the cigar faster than the rest, which accelerates the burn in one area. The best way to correct an under-filled burn is to gently touch up the ash on your cigar with a soft flame lighter. If the burn can’t be salvaged, the taste of the cigar will likely be unappealing. Let it go out and smoke a different cigar. Thankfully, under-filled cigars are very rare.

Light Your Cigar Evenly

Lighting your cigar unevenly in the first place or puffing too fast can also cause your cigar to canoe. Review our advice on how to light a cigar. Take measured puffs on your cigar and don’t try to huff it into your palate too quickly. Cigars are all about patiently experiencing the nuances of taste. Drawing too fast in quick succession or charring the entire foot right in the beginning interfere with the way a premium handmade cigar is intended to burn.

Don’t Chomp Down Too Hard

Chomping down on the head of your cigar too tight or crimping the end with your teeth can restrict part of the draw. This can also cause your cigar to canoe. Make sure you’re not exclusively drawing from just one side of the cigar. If you’re a habitual chomper, try to spin the cigar around in your mouth while you’re smoking and chomp on it evenly. The goal is to keep the head open for an easy, unrestricted draw.

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