Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Sparkling" cigars

Here's a good one. I recently received an email from a reader who wrote that sometimes when he lights up a cigar, he sees fine little sparks popping off what he refers to as the "ring of fire," or more specifically, where the lit area meets the unlit portion of the cigar.

"I see little bursts of spark almost popping off the outer edge of the cigar - almost seems like a sac of H2O or some type of fluid got evaporated. It's almost like there's a speck of a 'sparkler' (the size of a pin point) in the wrapper - and it "mini-pops" as the burning progresses down the cigar. Doesn't do anything to the burn or taste of the cigar; just an interesting occurrence to see these mini-sparks come off the edge of the cigar."

He added that the cigars are longfiller, not always the same brands, and the RH in his humidor is about 70-73%, which IMO is on the high side. He also noted that he lives in Hawaii, where the tropical climate can get pretty balmy. Not exactly a good combination.

The only time I've ever seen sparks come off the end of a cigar was when I was relighting one and blew through the cigar to kill-off some of the remaining tars. I've rarely, if ever smoked a good cigar that exhibited a "popping" burn. I do know this: When ever you burn any carbon-based fuel you create two things: Carbon dioxide and water. Just take a look at the tailpipe of your car. A better example may be when you burn a log in the fireplace that's a little too damp. It will crackle and steam. So the reader's noting of a sac of H2O or some type of fluid evaporating may have some weight to it. That would also coincide with my remark that his RH is on the high side. The more moisture in the cigar, the more C02 and water vapor you're going to create in the cigar. (I'm also working on a future article about this with regard to bursting cigars.)

According to an expert blender I forwarded this on to, he said that the reason could simply be the construction. He also agreed that it could be either the high humidity, or, the cigars were made with young tobacco, which could account for the sparkly burn.

If anyone else has had a similar experience, please share by leaving a comment.

~ Gary Korb

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