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Cigar 101

Cigar Repair: Fix Flaking & Cracked Wrappers

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

We’ve already provided a thorough overview on how to remedy a handful of common cigar problems, but we’re going to elaborate on how to repair a cigar with a cracked wrapper, which is a question that hits our inboxes often. If the wrapper on your cigar is simply cracked in a single spot or seems to be unraveling in a uniform piece, there’s a good chance you can fix it. If the wrapper is completely flaking apart (like a potato chip) over the entirety of the cigar, it may be beyond the point of no return.

Common Causes for a Cracked Wrapper

The most likely culprits that cause a cigar’s wrapper to crack include the following:

  • Too little humidity (dry or improper storage)
  • Seasonality (colder, dryer weather)
  • Improper transport (taking a cigar in and out of your pocket without cellophane or protection around the cigar)
  • Improper cutting (or using a dull cutter)
  • Knocking the cigar against an ashtray too aggressively
  • Removing the cigar band before the cigar is lit

Another factor to consider is the type of wrapper. For example, Cameroon and Indonesian wrappers are more fragile than other varietals. Because they are less resilient, there is a greater chance they can crack or unravel if exposed to precarious conditions. Regardless of how your cigar wound up in its compromised state, there are a couple of ways to repair a cracked wrapper leaf on a cigar.

How to Repair a Cracked Wrapper

The first and most effective method is to use pectin, which is a white to light brown powder or solution. Pectin is a citrus fruit extract, primarily used as a gelling agent in jams and jellies. Because it is tasteless and odorless, it’s a practical and harmless substance for patching up a cigar’s wrapper. An alternative to pectin is gum arabic (or acacia powder). When mixed with a touch of distilled water, you can apply it to a cigar wrapper leaf to seal it back into place.

If your cigar is missing a chunk of wrapper leaf in the mid-section, and the remnants no longer exist, you can always consider peeling a bit of wrapper leaf from a less expensive cigar and reapplying it to the cigar you want to smoke. This method, although not ideal, is worth considering if you’ve got an expensive or rare cigar with a damaged wrapper leaf. No one wants to toss out a Padron Family Reserve, a Fuente Fuente Opus X, or something you’ve been saving for a special occasion because the wrapper cracked.

If you’re in need of a quick impromptu wrapper leaf repair, you may be able to get away with a dab of ChapStick or Vaseline lip balm. Honey, syrup, or cola might do the trick too because they are naturally sticky. It’s worth a shot when outside the confines of your man cave.

Although the first instinct for a lot of guys is to lick a cracked wrapper or use their saliva to seal the wrapper back in place, these methods rarely prove effective. Eventually your saliva dries and the wrapper leaf will continue to come apart as before.

Prevent a Cracked Wrapper

The best way to deal with cracked cigar wrappers is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Maintain the humidity in your humidor. Keep an eye on your hygrometer and make sure it’s in the 65-70% RH (relative humidity) vicinity on a regular basis.

When taking a cigar or two to your next cigar-smoking destination, put them in a ziplock bag to protect them, even if they come in cellophane. Better yet, invest in a travel humidor or a cigar-carrying case. If you travel frequently with your cigars, a well-made cigar case is well worth the expense.

Make sure your cigar cutter has sharp blades. A dull cutter can easily crack the wrapper leaf if you’re struggling to the snip the end off, especially if you cut it too deeply. Applying too much pressure during a cut stresses the wrapper leaf and can cause it to split. Many brands like Xikar offer a lifetime warranty on their products and they will repair or replace the blades for free.

When you light up, wait until you’ve smoked the first half to two-thirds of your cigar before you take the band off. A tiny bit of gum arabic holds the cigar’s band in place. Tearing the band off a cold cigar can cause part of the wrapper leaf to tear off too. After you’ve been smoking for a bit, the heat from the lit end of your cigar will cause the gum arabic on the band to loosen and you can easily peel it away.

Don’t leave your cigars out in a cold car overnight or sitting on the dashboard under direct sunlight during a searing hot day. Wild swings in temperature and humidity are bad for cigars. Cigars are like sponges. They will expand and contract as the humidity and temperature change. Consistency is best.

Be gentle when ashing your cigar. Softly twist the ash off into an ashtray. Banging or needlessly knocking your cigar against the side of an ashtray can also cause the wrapper to crack. Although for some it’s tempting, you don’t have to ash your cigar after every puff. Take your time smoking. Nothing should be rushed when you want to enjoy a cigar.

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