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Cigar 101

White Spots on Cigars

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Sometimes I wonder how many great cigars have been needlessly thrown out because they developed small white spots, called plume, that were mistaken for mold. The formation of plume on premium cigars is completely normal, and it’s a sign you’re storing your cigars at the proper humidity level. Let’s take a closer look at cigar plume and point out the differences between cigar plume and mold.

What Are White Spots on a Cigar?

Cigar plume, also called cigar bloom, will form on the surface of a cigar’s wrapper leaf (beneath the cellophane) in small white specks. Plume is nothing more than solidified oil that gathers on the wrapper leaf. The longer you age your cigars, the more likely it is that plume will form. It’s also possible to open a fresh box of cigars from a retailer and discover plume on them. Cigars can develop plume when they’re aged at the cigar factory or while the retailer is storing them. Because cigars don’t expire and you can age them indefinitely, think of plume as a sign that you’re doing things right.

Are White Spots on a Cigar Bad?

Cigar plume is not harmful. You can gently brush the plume off a cigar with your fingers before you smoke it. Generally speaking, if you’re shopping for cigars in a retail store and you can choose between a cigar with plume or a cigar without plume, most aficionados will choose the cigar with plume because it’s an indication the cigar has been humidified and aged correctly. You can anticipate lots of rich and refined flavor from cigars that exhibit plume.

Can You Smoke a Moldy Cigar?

No, you cannot smoke a moldy cigar. Plume is very different from cigar mold, which is a blue-green color. Cigar mold won’t brush off, and it has a sticky or furry texture. Cigar mold can grow on the foot of a cigar, but plume will not. Cigar mold can and will spread to the other cigars in your humidor as well as the humidor itself. If the condition occurs, there are ways to clean humidor mold if you catch it soon enough, but once it has infected your cigars, you should throw them out immediately.

The best ways to prevent cigar mold are to avoid over-humidifying your cigars and using tap water in your humidor. The type of water matters, and you should only use distilled water. Also, rotate your cigars regularly (every few weeks) to ensure they receive equal access to your humidification source. Inspecting them is a logical way to identify and stifle any occurrence of mold.

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