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Cigar 101

When & How to Purge a Cigar

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Purging a cigar is the practice of gently blowing air through your cigar, after it’s lit and you’ve been smoking it for a while, as opposed to drawing on it to pull the smoke into your palate. Purging cigars stirs controversy among aficionados, not because the practice of purging a cigar is ill-advised – rather it’s why people purge cigars that irks some cigar lovers.

Why Purge a Cigar?

The main reason people purge cigars is to save a half-smoked cigar for later. What’s the big deal? Well, some aficionados consider it sacrilegious to save a cigar you’ve already started smoking for another time. While it’s best to finish a cigar in one sitting, unexpected circumstances can necessitate preserving what’s left of a good cigar so you can smoke it later, especially if it’s a larger size or a cigar you spent a lot of money to buy. A cigar that you purge, allowing it to burn out so you can smoke it later, will never taste as good as one that you smoke all at once, but there are other reasons to purge a cigar we cover below.

How to Purge a Cigar

Imagine you’ve been smoking your favorite Churchill for thirty minutes and an urgent call or text beckons you home. You were just getting to the sweet spot, but you’re determined to finish the job later if you can’t enjoy the rest of your cigar right now.

  1. Observe the end of your cigar to make sure the ash isn’t loose or about to fall in your lap.
  2. Instead of taking another puff, gently blow air through the cigar from the head.
  3. Allow the cigar to cool and gracefully go out.
  4. Cut the ash off behind the burn line.
  5. If you must travel with what’s left of your cigar, seal it in a Ziplock bag. Half-smoked cigars emit a pungent aroma. Never store a half-smoked cigar in your humidor.

How Purging a Cigar Can Improve Its Taste or Burn?

You can purge a cigar even if you plan to continue smoking it all at once. Essentially, you’re pushing out stale smoke or tar buildup by injecting fresh oxygen into the cigar when you blow air into it. If your cigar is canoeing or burning crooked, purging it can cause the burn to self-correct without touching up the foot with your lighter.

If a cigar begins to taste bitter while you’re smoking it, purging it is a way to expel unwanted flavor and stagnant smoke or oil. The key is to allow the cigar a few moments to cool down after you blow air into it before you continue puffing. You can also clip the ash off and relight your cigar, after you’ve purged it, to improve the taste. Purging a cigar encourages a fresh, full draw. It’s like hitting the reset button when a cigar isn’t performing to your standards.

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