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What Could a Powdery Substance on Cigars Mean?


Most of us, from time to time, discover something about a cigar that we’ve been holding onto that’s unnerving.  Maybe it’s completely dried out, or its flavor profile has all but disappeared.  Another fairly common issue that cigar lovers run into is discovering a powdery substance developing on the cigar while it’s being stored in a humidor.

Today, we’ll be talking about what this type of powdery substance indicates, and whether or not it’s safe to enjoy a cigar that has this type of issue.  Note that a powdery substance can cover the entire exterior of the cigar or appear as just a couple of specks here and there.  Regardless, you’ll still want to identify the issue that’s causing the powder.

If It’s a White Powder

The first thing that you’ll need to do is determine the color of the powdery substance.  If it’s a white powder, you can breathe a sigh of relief.  While a cigar is being stored, it’s natural for it to sweat its oils, which can result in a white, powdery residue that gets left behind once the oils mostly evaporate. 

A white powdery substance is therefore nothing that requires major concern.  It’s simply the oils that have been crystallized, and there is actually a name for it – plume.  Being totally harmless in nature, you can simply brush it off and continue with your plans to smoke the cigar.  You’ll find that it brushes away easily without leaving a stain.  The longer a cigar sits in storage, the more prone it is to developing plume.  A lot of companies that sell aged cigars routinely brush this away as to not harm the aesthetics of the cigar itself.  This indicates that it’s a pretty inevitable issue, and not one that demonstrates that your storage practices are inadequate.

If It’s a Blue Powder

If the powdery substance on your cigars has a blue or green tint to it, this is almost definitely mold.  And mold develops if the humidor in which the cigar is being stored is not operating at the proper humidity level or temperature.  Unfortunately, if a cigar has mold on it, it must be discarded as it can be dangerous to smoke.  If you’re still unsure as to whether or not mold is the issue, try brushing it away – mold is less likely to brush off easily, and will leave behind a stain.  Further, mold is fuzzy, while plume is not.  You can also take a cigar to your local cigar shop to have them inspect it if you don’t trust your own ability to determine whether or not this is the issue.

In the event that you find a moldy cigar in your humidor, there is a process that you must follow.  First, carefully inspect each cigar to make sure that more are not affected.  Those that do have mold must be tossed away.  Then, remove all of the cigars that are free of mold and air them out for 24 hours.  In the meantime, clean the inside of your humidor with isopropyl alcohol to remove any fungal spores.  Readjust your humidor so that it’s at the proper temperature and humidity level, and place your cigars back in.  From that point, you’ll need to really stay on top of your hygrometer to make sure that it’s keeping the right humidity level, or else you’ll end up with the same problem later on.

Sometimes, the issue is that the humidor is no longer functional, and needs to be replaced.  If you suspect that this is the issue, you’ll want to take care of this as soon as possible to avoid ending up with more moldy cigars.  After all, a moldy cigar is like cash thrown in the garbage, especially if you’re someone who splurges.  With a functional humidor set properly, you should not have to worry about moldy cigars.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, sometimes a powdery substance is harmless, while other times, it can indicate that a cigar is downright unsafe to smoke.  The good news is that it’s easy to identify what the problem is and make the necessary adjustments to avoid this happening again in the future.

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