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FAQ: What Causes Cigar Wrappers to Split or Explode?

FAQ: What Causes Cigar Wrappers to Split or Explode?

One of the most frustrating things in our hobby is when we select a cigar, arrive at our desired location, light ‘er up, and then have our moment fail to meet our expectations.  This can easily happen in the winter or summer with ‘exploding cigars,’ whereby the binder and filler expand to split the wrapper.  It’s no fun, and has probably happened to everyone at least once or twice. 

Why does this happen?

Here are a few of the things that can trigger your cigar to split, explode, or otherwise ruin your day in order of likelihood: 

  • Large humidity differences between storage and smoking environment
  • The cigar itself was over-humidified
  • You smoked too quickly, cranking up the heat
  • The cigar was packed too tight with a thin wrapper

While the last one is unlikely with premium cigars (these guys know their craft) the above bullet points are often cumulative.  If you start off with a cigar that was humidified at 75% before moving outside to smoke like a vacuum cleaner, you have a pretty good chance of coming back with a frown.  And if you start off with an already thin wrapper, excess humidity and smoke speed are things that you’ll have to account for.

The Solution to Splitting Wrappers

A couple years ago, someone shared with me what seems to be a guaranteed fix: remove your cigar from the humidor for four to twenty-four hours before smoking.  

It seems like it would be too simple to be a catchall solution, but it really works.  By taking your cigar out of the humidor, you’re effectively managing both possible problems: cigars with too much humidity or a smoking environment with a drastic difference in humidity.  If your cigar is too humid and needs to dry out a bit, this is essentially dry boxing your cigar.  And if the storage humidity and smoking environment is drastically different, this will allow your cigar to acclimate before it gets the business.

Cigar FAQs

If you’ve been experiencing this problem, it’s also a good idea to look at the percentage in which your cigars are stored.  If you live in a very humid environment, I’d suggest storing your cigars between 65-69%.  Conversely, if you’re climate is constantly dry I’d recommend storing your cigars in 60-65%.  These differences might seem small but can help protect your investment.

To be fair, though, 65% is a great starting point for 95% of smokers.  Altering your humidity within a couple percentage points around that is for those that want to completely dial in and squeeze every ounce out of their hobby.

And if you’re worried about your cigars becoming dry because they’re left out of the humidor, remember that long-term storage is meant to retain the oils of your cigar.  Technically, we just want to use the minimum amount of humidity necessary to retain those oils without developing mold.  As long as your cigars will be smoked within a reasonable timeframe, there shouldn’t be any issues with removing it from a controlled environment or dry boxing it.

Tell Us!  Have you had this problem in the past?  What was your fix?

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