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Stogie Tips: Fix That Uneven Burn

3 Nov 2008

As we wrote way back in August 2006, every stogie enthusiast will run into an uneven burn from time to time. This phenomenon can be much more than annoying; it can adversely and significantly affect the performance of an otherwise delightful cigar.

The following tips should help everyone from tobacco neophytes to seasoned stogie veterans fix an uneven burn—also called a canoe—especially if the problem stems not from the actual makeup of the cigar but from some outside interference.

Without question, the best strategy is to avoid an uneven burn in the first place. A proper light is a good way to start every cigar. From there, if you notice the mascara (the black line between the ash and the tobacco) begin to meander, rotate the cigar so the slow burning part is at the bottom. Fire, after all, needs oxygen to burn, and the bottom of the cigar will burn faster than the top because it has more access to oxygen. This is also why you should rotate your cigar as you smoke.

Second, if placing the long end on the bottom doesn’t work, we recommend touching up the fast burning part of the wrapper by applying moisture to the wrapper to slow down the burn. Usually saliva will get the job done, but remember you just want to add a little moisture to the wrapper; you don’t want a wet stogie.

If the aforementioned two techniques don’t work, feel free to grab your lighter or matches and gently burn off the section that’s burning too fast. Don’t rush to quickly take a puff afterwards, however, as the ash is likely unstable. Wait until the burnt wrapper turns black and burns off completely.

While it’s always best to smoke each cigar as its blender intended—slowly from beginning to end in one sitting—we understand that not everyone has the time or the inclination. In order to re-establish an even burn after the foot has extinguished, tap the remaining ash and blow through the cigar before toasting the foot again. This practice will help diminish the sour, bitter flavor that’s often associated with re-lit cigars, and it should clear the way for a second shot at an even burn.

Finally, if you’ve uncovered your own unique methodology to fix an uneven burn, please share it with readers by leaving a comment below.

Patrick A & Patrick S

photo credit: Club Stogie

9 Responses to “Stogie Tips: Fix That Uneven Burn”

  1. Mac and Nudo Monday, November 3, 2008 at 9:19 am #

    This article pretty much sums up all the options I use to correct a cigar that's burning improperly. On rare occasions, though, I've been known to simply throw out a stick that isn't performing like it should. The whole experience un-enjoyable, so I'll start with a different stick.

  2. CWS Monday, November 3, 2008 at 10:11 am #

    Alot depends on the conditions outside – windy days are not good for cigars. Still haven't been able to convince my wife that we need a smoking room in the house.

  3. Evan Monday, November 3, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    I use a few techniques other than the ones mentioned:

    First, note that the bottom side of the cigar (when held, the side that faces down) burns more quickly. I don't know why, but when holding the cigar as well as smoking it, you should rotate it from time to time as well.

    Also, smoking in the wind is a great way to screw up a great smoke for obvious reasons.

    Finally, the sooner you use your lighter to correct a future burn, the less overall problems you'll have.

  4. Sean Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 8:09 am #

    Depending on your humidors RH level, I tend to drybox my cigars for a few days before smoking them. This seems to alleviate any burn issues.

  5. Dicksbain Sunday, November 9, 2008 at 4:03 am #

    These are some great tips. I normally just skip to step 3; apply more flame with mixed results. I will try the moisture and rotation tips. I have noticed that storage conditions greatly affect the burn. Too much/too little humidity will cause burn issues in even the best cigars. So if you find yourself having constant burning issues, you may want to check the hydrometer or recalibrate it.

  6. durando Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Something that works well (the smaller the gauge the better never tried it on something huge) But the trick is BLOW, gently blow instead of drawing through the cigar and it will fix an uneven burn, also moistening the fast side will also help this process. Although if you let it get to the point of a full inch long canoe you will have to touch it up with a flame.

  7. Cigar Seeker Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    “First, you can start by rotating the cigar so the slow burning part is at the bottom of the cigar. Because a fire needs oxygen to burn, the bottom of the cigar will burn faster (as it has access to more oxygen) than the top.”

    I correct an uneven burn by rotating the cigar in the opposite direction as is suggested here. First, let me say I do not like the “more oxygen” explanation. I think there is virtually the same oxygen above and below the cigar, since both sides are exposed to the atmosphere.

    On the other hand, a basic principle is that “heat rises.” That is why, I believe, when I rotate the unburned edge of the cigar so that it is on top, the heat rises from the burning tobacco within the cigar and will often get the top wrapper going.

    BTW, the original thought on there being more oxygen at the bottom of the cigar may also be based on the “heat rises” principle, since it may be thought that the heat drives the nearby air away. But I think what happens then is that the heated air is simply replaced by cooler air, keeping the oxygen level fairly steady.

    The idea of more heat at the top than the bottom of a cigar could be tested by getting a cigar evenly burning, then bringing a finger first close to the bottom the lighted edge, then close to the top. I hope no one actually tries this though because I’m pretty sure when the finger is close to the top of the lighted edge it will get toasted pretty well!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Stogie Reviews: Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 Petit Corona - Thursday, November 6, 2008

    […] packed this little cigar is. The burn is a bit uneven at times, but never requiring step two of our fix that uneven burn tip. The ash was study, even if it didn’t hold all that […]

  2. Stogie Reviews: Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 Petit Corona - Thursday, November 6, 2008

    […] packed this little cigar is. The burn is a bit uneven at times, but never requiring step two of our fix that uneven burn tip. The ash was study, even if it didn’t hold all that […]