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What Causes a Cigar to Be Too Hard?


Maybe it has happened to you – you reach into your cigar stash to grab the perfect smoke and find that your cigar feels unusually hard to the touch.  Stogies can become hard due to a number of circumstances, and naturally, a hard cigar is usually a good indication that the smoke will be ultimately disappointing.  But, sometimes, a hard cigar can be fixed, which means that before you throw it out, consider why it got hard in the first place.

What to Know About Hard Cigars in General

A hard cigar is pretty easy to identify, especially if you’re an experienced cigar smoker.  Immediately, you’ll feel that there is no give when you give the cigar a slight squeeze.  A hard cigar comes with all kinds of implications pertaining to the quality of the smoke you can get out of it.  If it’s hard, it’s not going to burn at the proper rate, and its flavor and smoke production will be impacted in some way.

Reasons Why Cigars Can Become Hard

The fact of the matter is that there are a number of reasons why your stogie can become hard.  Knowing what has caused this to happen determines whether or not the issue can ultimately be fixed.

Reason #1: Old Age

All cigars have a shelf life, including those high-end cigars that age for years.  A cigar can last anywhere from 2 months to 20 years depending on countless factors including the type of tobacco used and the type of wrapper.  The average length during which a cigar is smokable is 5 years.

Once a cigar has passed its prime, it can become hard, as the chemical structure of the components have simply oxidized to the point that the cigar has become essentially useless.  It will likely burn so quickly it’s not worth your time, and its flavor will almost definitely be lacking.

Reason #2: Overstuffing

Sometimes, a cigar is hard because it’s been overstuffed.  The more tobacco is stuffed in, the denser the cigar becomes and the harder it will feel.  This is an error on the manufacturer’s part, which is why you should carefully feel a cigar before purchasing it, if you’re buying it in person.  An overstuffed cigar won’t just feel hard, but it will be so tightly packed that it may be extremely difficult to draw due to a lack of airflow.

Reason #3: Not Keeping Them in a Humidor

Failing to keep your cigar in a humidor will cause it to harden over time.  A humidor isn’t just a luxury item for serious cigar enthusiasts – it’s essential if you want your cigars to last.  As cigars dry out, they become hard, and so few cigars will last in your possession if you’re not keeping them under controlled humidity levels.  Without moisture, cigars burn extremely quickly and have an unenjoyable draw and flavor.

Reason #4: Cold, Dry Air

A cigar that is exposed to cold, dry air will likely dry out and become hard, because cold sucks the moisture out.  This means that if you are keeping your cigars next to a window during the winter months, the slightest draft can harden your cigars and make them virtually incapable of smoking.

Reason #5: Leaving Them Outdoors

You should never leave a cigar outdoors for more than a couple of hours, tops.  Outdoor conditions fluctuate quite a bit and expose your cigar to all kinds of factors that it likely can’t handle, such as rapid changes in temperature and moisture that damage the cigar.  Dry air, cold air and yes, even hot air can all cause your cigar to harden by dehydrating it.

How to Rehydrate a Hard Cigar

If your cigar has hardened due to a loss of moisture, it may not be a lost cause.  You can rehydrate a cigar if you have some patience and willingness to go through the process.

To rehydrate a cigar, place it in a large resealable plastic bag, and place some humidor solution in a small cup or bowl before adding it to the bag.  Seal the bag back up, and leave it in a stable environment such as a closet.  Note that it can take up to 3 weeks for your cigar to regain its ideal moisture level, depending on the tobacco and the size of the cigar.  So, every day or couple of days, without opening the bag, check the texture of the cigar until you’re satisfied.

Hard Cigars: Not Always a Waste

At the end of the day, a cigar that become harden is not always a ruined cigar.  If you’re willing to rehydrate it, assuming that dryness is the cause, then you can enjoy it as though nothing ever happened.  That’s why storing your cigars in a humidor is so important, as is avoiding stogies that have been over-stuffed or have past their expiration date.


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