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Cigar 101

How to Fix & Prevent Cigar Tunneling

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

What’s with the mysterious ash at the end of your cigar? It looks like you could stick your finger inside. Don’t do that, you will burn yourself. Your cigar clearly isn’t combusting correctly, though. The wrapper hasn’t budged an inch but the binder and filler tobaccos have already gone up in smoke somehow. Your cigar is tunneling. Here are some quick tips on why a cigar tunnels and how to fix the situation.

Make Sure You’ve Got a Thorough Light

If you neglected to hit the edges (the wrapper and outermost tobaccos) of your cigar when firing up, the core tobaccos can potentially burn at an accelerated rate. As a result, the interior filler tobaccos can burn up faster than the wrapper and binder. Ideally, the ash on a premium handmade cigar should appear uniform, or even, up to the edge. You’re supposed to taste the binder, filler, and wrapper leaf in unison with one another. Touch up the foot of the cigar around the edges to get the wrapper back on track with the filler tobaccos.

Puffing Too Infrequently

If you’re busy delivering a speech in your pal’s man cave and a year passes in between puffs, your cigar can tunnel. Don’t completely neglect your cigar once you’ve started smoking it. Sometimes, the center tobaccos become insulated by the ash and they will keep smoldering while the outer leaves begin to cool. Simply take more frequent puffs to keep the burn even.

Is the Wrapper Leaf the Culprit?

Thicker, oilier wrappers like certain Maduro and Oscuro varietals will burn slower because they are heartier leaves than a traditional Connecticut Shade. That doesn’t mean you should avoid smoking dark and succulent cigars. Simply be aware, you may have to touch up the edges of the wrapper a few times over the course of the cigar to boost the burn on an oilier wrapper.

Was the Cigar Rolled Properly?

It’s very rare, but once in a while a cigar is not properly rolled. If there is slight gap between the wrapper leaf and the binder tobaccos, the cigar can tunnel. On the flip side, if a little too much binder tobacco goes into a cigar, the center of the cigar can combust faster than the wrapper leaf. If there’s an inherent problem with the way a cigar has been constructed which makes it too uncomfortable to smoke, simply let it go out and start a new one.  

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