As any cigar enthusiast knows, even the most premium cigars can have their rare defects. Although every good cigar manufacturer fully intends to deliver consistency throughout their process, every once in a while the intended perfection falls short due to miscellaneous faults in the rolling process or even because of human error. Most commonly, these burdens come into play in the way the cigar burns.
In addition to some of the external burn factors we will mention below, we will also dive into burn issues that arise from the manufacturing process. Let’s begin by listing a few things to avoid for an even burn.
External Burn Problems: Things to Avoid
Even when you take the necessary steps to steps to get a good light, wind can create problems that lead to an uneven burn. This is usually caused by wind hitting your cigar more aggressively on one side than the other, thus increasing the combustion on that side. The windier it is outside, the more difficult it will be to maintain an even burn.
Humidification issues can create the same problems as wind where one side of the cigar burns more quickly than the other. This is caused when a cigar has been removed from cellophane and is placed in an area that is damp or has variations in humidity. The damp area or surface that is in contact with the cigar results in the uneven burn; the wrapper touching this surface acts like a sponge, absorbing the moisture and pulling it into that side of the cigar. The inconsistency in humidification causes the cigar to canoe as the more damp side of the cigar will burn much slower than the other side.
Even the lightest rains can create uneven burns in a cigar. Every drop of rain that hits the wrapper will result in one spot of your cigar that doesn’t burn as quickly as the rest. While it is unlikely that a sprinkle will make your cigar go out, it is likely that the few drops that do hit it will result in an uneven burn.
This is a simple concept to understand: an uneven cut equals an uneven burn. To avoid this problem use our guide to learn how to properly cut a cigar.
Just like the bald guy at work with the awesome comb over haircut, different types of cigars require different cuts. If you cut the right cigar with the wrong tool you are going to end up with a cigar that burns unevenly. When it comes to cutting a cigar, it’s not about preference but utility. For example, don’t cut a Torpedo with a v-cut… unless of course you are looking to master your bad burn doctoring skills.
Last but not least on our list of external burn factors is a poorly lit cigar. A cigar that is lit unevenly will result in an uneven burn. When it comes to lighting a cigar there is a lot to learn. That is why we created this awesome infographic on how to light a cigar as a well as wrote an educational piece on the many ways you can light a cigar. Pay special attention to the way you light your cigar; it can make or break a good burn.
Additional Burn Problems
Mentioned above in the section on humidification issues, canoeing is when one side of the cigar burns more quickly than the other. Canoeing is often associated with humidification problems or when one side of the cigar has absorbed more moisture than the other side. It can also occur as a result of smoking the cigar too quickly. Canoes can be remedied by allowing the cigar to go out, then clipping it once again to ensure a more consistent burn.
Coning occurs when the outside perimeter of the cigar burns more quickly than its core. This is often caused by smoking too fast, resulting in the outer leaves burning much faster than they should. Cigars that begin to cone should be left to cool off and the smoker should try to slow down the rate at which they are taking pulls. The smoker should also realize that they are not under the bleachers at high school; they can slow down and enjoy their smoke.
Runners are when a thinner burn occurs along one side of the cigar. One of the most unfortunate issues that can arise from bad burns, runners are often caused by a rough vein in the outer leaf. When the vein starts burning it acts like a wick, scorching the length of the cigar and ruining it within minutes. If caught early enough you can give your runner a “wet willy” by moistening your finger with your tongue and dabbing it onto the runner source. This little bit of moisture may just be enough to slow down the uneven burn. If this fails to do the trick, you may have to allow the cigar to cool off and clip the foot just as we mentioned above with a heavily canoed cigar.
Tunneling is essentially the opposite thing of coning, it occurs when the core of the cigar burns more quickly than the perimeter. This is common for smokers who pull from their cigars at a very slow rate. Tunneling can be remedied in a similar way as canoeing, allowing your cigar to cool off then cutting it and relighting it.
Enjoying Even Burns
As you can see, most uneven burn problems come as a result of operator error or external factors. Wind, a poor cut or light, and a bad or wrong cut can all be avoided with proper planning. If you feel that your cigars are frequent victims to humidification issues it could be a problem with your humidifier. These types of problems don’t generally occur when you purchase smokes from the local shop. The next time you experience an uneven burn, use your knowledge of the various different burn types to quickly remedy problems and enjoy your stogies the way they were intended.
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