The following scenario is all too common and can affect even the most experienced cigar hobbyist. You open up your humidor and to your horror you see some white fuzzy stuff sprouting from your cigars, cigar mold!
You’ve got problems, my friend… Trust me. On the other hand, you also might run across a fine, white, powdery film that covers your cigars, a highly prized development on cigars called, “bloom” (also called “plume”).
What Cigar Bloom Looks Like
Bloom refers to the condition of the tobacco when the oils in the wrapper leaves disperse congeal and then dry-out on the surface of the wrapper. These “essential oils” congregate and dry on the surface of a cigar and appear like very tiny crystals. In fact, you can sometimes shine a light on the cigars and the crystals will shimmer a bit as they reflect the light. These dried crystals can eventually make the wrapper look slightly “dusty” with a powdery white finish.
What should you do if your cigars have bloom? Nothing. Bloom is harmless and is a common feature of cigars that have optimally aged for long periods of time, especially cigars with oily wrappers. I would keep an eye on it though, unless you have a doctorate in fuzzy growths, because it may turn out to be something else. Some retailers prize the appearance of bloom and I’ve heard that some retailers “special order” their cigars with bloom from the factory!
How To Spot Cigar Mold
There is another substance that can appear on your cigars, that is not so benign as bloom. I’m talking about mold. Mold is a fungus that appears on your cigars when they are over humidified. It can be found in various colors, including white, gray, blue-gray, or blue-green. The best way to describe mold, as opposed to bloom is that mold appears as “fuzzy patches” on your cigars, which are 3-dimensional, like miniature cotton balls. Mold occurs most often on the wrapper, but can also occur on the foot (see photo below) and/or within the filler of a cigar.
How To Tackle Cigar Mold
What should you do if your cigars have mold? First, get the offending smokes away from your other cigars. Second, check your other smokes for signs of mold. If you have a bunch of cigars with mold and you want to try and salvage them, at least wipe off the mold (away from your other cigars) and move them to a different container.
I would not humidify these smokes for about 12 hours or so. They are already too wet and need to dry out a bit. Third, check your humidor and humidifier for signs of mold. If you have developed mold on the wood of your humidor, remove all your cigars and use isopropyl or denatured alcohol to kill mold spores. And let it air out a bit before putting cigars back into it. If there is mold in your foam humidifier, either replace it, or remove it and flush it with water and leave it out to dry. When it’s dry, recharge it with a mixture of propylene glycol (PG) and distilled water.
The PG will help impede mold growth. Finally, prevent the humidity levels in your humidor from getting too high in the future. Use a digital hygrometer and check temperature and humidity levels frequently.
Should you toss out a stick that has mold on it? Well, to be absolutely safe, yes. Many people simply wipe the mold off the stogies and smoke them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do the same, however, mold comes in different varieties, some of which can cause illness if they are allowed to culture in the wrong place, like in your mouth or in your lungs.
There are millions of varieties of mold in the world and not every type of mold causes human illness. But some kinds of mold are able to serve as pathogens in the body and can cause respiratory or other medical conditions. Mold spreads by producing spores, these spores then spread the fungus to you or to the rest of your smokes. SO, if you want to take your chances, brush off the mold and smoke them, otherwise just get rid of them.