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Cigar 101

Ventilating Your Cigar-Smoking Room

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Maybe you live in one of those fair weather, permanent vacation climates. But if you’re like your pals at Holt’s (in Philadelphia), winter gets flipped on at some point during the last few months of the year. That means smoking our favorite cigars outside is considerably less ideal. Even if it stays warmer, sometimes it’s tough to enjoy a premium cigar when the wind or rain acts up, sending ashes off in every direction and constantly threatening your cigar’s burn.

That’s why smoking inside is key. And since cigar-friendly pubs are as few and far between as they are these days, smoking at home is a critical option. Like most folks, you’ve probably got a partner, roommate, children, or pets who share the same roof. Toasting up a premium smoke over the picnic table is no big deal, but when all that smoke stays inside, it’s going to ruffle some feathers if you’re not considerate. Who wants to meet an angry mob as soon as you emerge from your cigar room? Not us. Luckily, there are ways to minimize and remove the smell of cigars, so that you can smoke freely inside.

Plus, sometimes you really want to smoke a premium blend or something special you’ve been saving like an Ashton ESG or a Padron 1964 Anniversary. Those are hardly bundle-grade utility smokes relegated to pushing the snow blower around. And they’re not cheap, so when you’re ready to fire one up, you don’t want to wear three pairs of gloves and get interrupted with a gust of snow in your face. That’s hardly a romantic way to enjoy a premium smoke you just spent your hard-earned dough on. The good news is, there are plenty of practical solutions for smoking inside. Cigar smoke ventilation doesn’t have to be an advanced application of HVAC science. It can be simple.

Choose the Best Room

Before you start striking matches and spinning a stogie around in your lips – ask yourself an easy question, does this room have any windows? Or a door? Or an exhaust fan or ventilation that’s connected to the outside? If the answer is no, break out the schematics for your abode and decide if you’ve chosen the best location. Smoking cigars inside is always best when you can control where the smoke is going and provide an avenue for its escape.

If you’re building an in-home smoking room or cigar lounge from the ground up, spray foam insulation is generally recommended as the best insulator underneath your drywall. It covers a lot of nooks and crannies that standard insulation won’t. This offers maximum insurance your smoke production is confined to the room. Containing the smoke makes it easier to direct it out through an isolated window or vent so that it can’t mingle with the clean air circulating in your home’s HVAC system.

If you’re outfitting a space that’s been there for eons, no worries. You don’t have to start tearing the walls apart. We’ve got methods to combat conditions in a number of pre-existing environments.

Keep the Smoke in One Room with Duct Tape and a Towel

This may seem a bit sophomoric, but it does work. Once you’ve got your space squared away, you can begin to curtail smoke distribution throughout your home with a few simple steps. Get a roll of duct tape and cover the air return vent(s) going into your room. Make sure you’re not covering the supply vent, just the return. The return is the vent that draws the air out of the room and sends it throughout the rest of the house. If the air is smoky, it will get transmitted into many other areas of your home through the return.

When the return is covered, the air now needs to go somewhere else. The most obvious place is right out under the door. We also want to avoid that scenario or smoky air will populate your home from under the door. Simply roll up a towel and cover the gap at the bottom of the door(s). Once your air return is covered and the door is blocked, just open a window – as much as an inch or two is fine. With nowhere else to go, the air is gradually forced out through the window, sparing the rest of your home the aroma of traveling cigar smoke.

Duct-taping vents isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing or permanent answer, but it sure beats freezing while smoking your cigar outside in the winter. Plus, these are simple, temporary solutions you can put into action if you and your pals decide to indulge in an impromptu cigar. Just remember to take the tape off the vent after the air clears.

Exhaust Fans

Exhaust fans are an obvious and easy ventilation solution. A simple box fan that is flipped around and placed inside the window so that it blows air to the outside is an effective method for vacuuming the smoke out of a room. More advanced exhaust fans can be integrated into your ductwork, ceiling, or walls with varying degrees of complexity. Some may require installation by a professional.

If you’ve taken the time to cover your air return vents and any gaps at the bottom of the door(s) as suggested above, an exhaust fan in the window or room will be all the more effective.

Best Exhaust Fans for Smoking Rooms:

If you decide to go the industrial route, you’ll have to do some research or consult with a specialist. To understand what kind of cost to anticipate, you will need to consider your room’s dimensions along with the number of people who will be smoking. Exhaust fans are rated by CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute). For example, if your room measures 10’ x 12’ with ceilings that are 8’ high, you would need an exhaust fan rated at 200-300 CFM for a single smoker. For 4 or 5 smokers, a CFM of 900-1100 would be required. It is best if the fan is connected to insulated ductwork that expels the air to the outside.

When a more advanced system isn’t in the budget, or you’re living in a rental property where renovating isn’t feasible, try placing a basic box fan in an open window. You can choose from a number of fans designed for use in a standard household window, such as Lasko which you can buy at Home Depot. You can also consider an air purifier.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers are ideal for a number of reasons. Some models can easily be maneuvered from one room to the next. Many rely on activated carbon to purify the air of smoke and other unwanted smells. A number of cigar lounges and bars you visit utilize air purifiers to clear the air in smoking areas.

Rabbit Air produces a full suite of air purifiers beginning at a few hundred dollars. The Rabbit Air MinusA2 780A/N has proven to work wonders in smoking environments with the company’s Odor Remover Air Filter. This model retails for around $600. The brand’s contemporary, efficient design has made it a popular choice for cigar lovers. Dyson also offers an array of futuristic purifiers while Honeywell manufactures desktop models that begin around $50. Smaller air purifiers may not handle a crowd of your buddies who drop by to watch the game, but they can be sufficient for an occasional cigar on your own.

HVAC System

When money is no object, you could elect to install an HVAC System dedicated to handling the air in your cigar room or man cave. You’ll likely be looking at a $5K to $10K expense, but your smoking room will have its very own dedicated track of insulated duct work linked to the outside with an electronic air cleaning and circulation system – all separate from your home’s HVAC system, so as not to mingle any smoky air with the environment in the rest of your house.

Unless you work as an HVAC contractor, you’ll definitely want to hire professionals for this option. It’s a bit more involved than a simple DIY weekend project. However, if your house is the only place to go for every single herf your pals throw, this could be well-worth the investment. Plus, you’ll literally never have to leave home when you want have a cigar, regardless of any wives, partners, roommates, pets, or family members who may be staying in for the night.

Furniture / Decor

Choose the best furniture and décor for your space. For example, cigar smoking chairs made of leather or faux leather are great for smoking rooms. This simple, often overlooked, solution may not be directly linked to ventilation, but it will certainly benefit your efforts to maintain a clean environment that bears little residual evidence of previous cigar smoking. Items like fluffy fabric pillows and sofas, carpeting, and heavy linens will retain your cigar smoke much more aggressively than hardwood or tiled floors and leather or vinyl seating. You don’t have to sit on milk crates with a plastic cooler for a coffee table, but you can make some smart choices with regard to materials and your environment will hang onto the smoke much less aggressively. Plus, these surfaces are easier to wipe down or wax after your pals go home for the night. Don’t forget to pick up an ashtray!

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