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Cigar 101

How to Fix a Cigar with a Hard Draw

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

You’ve been looking forward to smoking a cigar all day but the second you cut it and light up, it sucks – or rather, you “suck” because there’s no draw no matter how hard you pull on the end. That’s the classic indication of a plugged cigar. Luckily, it’s a rare occurrence, but it can happen to any hand-rolled premium regardless of price. Here are a few common causes for a plugged cigar, and the best ways to fix a cigar with a hard draw.

Your Cigar was Over-Filled or Rolled Incorrectly

Among the rarest causes for a plugged cigar is that the roller (or buncher) at the factory added a little too much tobacco. Sometimes it's not even the roller’s fault. A bit of expansion and contraction occurs during the shipping process which can provoke the tobaccos in a cigar to obstruct the draw.

If you suspect your cigar is plugged at the foot or at the head, try piercing one or both ends with a cigar piercer. You can loosen up the draw with a couple of quick but gentle pokes with a piercer. If you haven’t got a piercer handy, you can always improvise with a paper clip or the end of a match stick.

Your Cigar is Over-Humidified

If you notice the humidity level in your humidor is running high (anything over 70% RH can be too high), your cigar may be over-humidified. A cigar that’s too moist won’t draw easily. The best way to remedy an over-humidified smoke is to let it sit out of the humidor overnight or for a day before you smoke it. Some aficionados practice this trick even if their cigars aren’t plugged.

You Didn’t Cut Your Cigar Correctly

Did you cut enough off the head? Sometimes, snipping a little more off at the cap can open up the draw on a cigar considerably, especially if you’re smoking a Torpedo or a Figurado with a tapered head.

Also, some guys refuse to use a straight cut because they’re too attached to a punch cut or a V-cut. Naturally, a V-cutter or a punch cutter will create a more constricted draw. Don’t be afraid to take off a little more of the cap off with a straight cutter when the draw is just too tight. While we don’t recommend cutting a cigar too deep, sometimes it’s necessary even if you started out with a straight cut. Nine times out of ten, a deeper cut will correct a plugged draw.

Moisture from Your Mouth

Some connoisseurs can’t help it. Deliberately or inadvertently, they saturate the end of their cigars with saliva while they’re smoking. This also occurs more often with Torpedo-shaped cigars and cigars that have been cut with a punch cutter or V-cutter. The smaller the opening in a cigar’s cut, the easier it is for an obstruction to occur. You can correct a cigar that’s gotten a bit too wet simply by slicing the saturated portion of the head off with a straight cutter.

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