Friday, January 18, 2008

Bursting Cigar Syndrome

A few weeks ago, I was enjoying some cigars at Famous Smoke Shop with a few of the regulars in the retail store. Among the good fellows who stop in each weekend is "John D." On this particular day, Mr. D. brought up an interesting topic: the problem of bursting cigars. He said that when he smokes cigars in the 54 to 60-ring range, they often tend to burst on him, and asked if I had any thoughts on the subject. I suggested that maybe the RH in his humidor was on the high side, but he said his box consistently averaged at around 70%.

My take on why wide ring cigars tend to burst sometimes is that since there's so much more tobacco in the cigar, it tends to get pretty juicy in there. Combine that with the heat inside the cigar and the "steam" needs to escape somewhere. If there's a weak spot along the way, that's where it's going to pop. Certainly, an over-humidified cigar would tend to make the bursting scenario that much more likely to happen.

John nodded, but then he came up with a very interesting angle, which became the motivation for this posting. He said that when he removed the band from the cigar first, the cigar didn't burst. His theory being, as the cigar began to expand from the heat, the ring was restricting it in such a way that the cigar had no other option but to split. Frankly, I never thought of that, and it seems entirely logical. Remove the band, ease the flow of smoke.

Truth be told, I've had this happen with cigars that were already unbanded, since I tend to remove the band early on when I smoke. It actually happened to me this morning, and it was a pretty decent cigar, too.

So, I think John D's solution has merit, but I think there are other factors that may be attributed to bursting: The overall quality of the cigar, its moisture content, and the type or thickness of the wrapper, to name a few. I'd also add that how often or hard you draw on the cigar would be a contributing factor, since it has a direct effect on the amount of heat the cigar produces.

I'm curious if anyone has their own theories or remedies with regard to "BCS" (Bursting Cigar Syndrome). If you do, please add your comments.

~ Gary Korb

4 comments:

John D said...

Gary, Keep in mind that the bands on those those bursting cigars were all wide, all different brands & not from the same box. I won't mention any brands but you know the ones I'm talking about. I believe that there is a possibly of this happening with some large ring cigars but not all that pop/split/burst. My focus now is on the way these cigars are pressed & bound. Maybe a void is created in the making of the cigar. The area where they split on the cigar is always the same, right in front of the band. There is another point I failed to tell you. When I cut this section off the cigar it opened up like a flower, totally unraveling the leaf. I'm not done looking into this phenomenon but will be sure to let you know when I come across the cause. Good talking to you Gary, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

John D.

St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

I've had this happen a couple times, both with the band off. The first was Gurkha perfecto with a very thin Cameroon wrapper. The next time I smoked that particular cigar, I put it in a dry box for a couple days before smoking. It behaved itself that second time, but it may be luck as well.

I also had that problem with a 5 Vegas Series 'A', which split during the last third. Once again, the wrapper was kind of thin. Maybe for a thin-wrapper cigar, the binder needs to be thicker and stronger to compensate?

john D said...

Question to Gary.........

Is the wrapper for flavor or construction?

John D

CigarAdvisor said...

Flavor, for sure. It depends who you speak to, but the wrapper accounts for anywhere from 20% to as much as 60% of a cigar's flavor. Certainly, it contributes greatly to the cigar's aroma.

G~