If you’ve spent any time at all in a social media cigar group, you’ve probably heard a ton of chatter about “mold vs. plume” (or bloom). If you’re not sure what people are talking about, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Keep reading to learn more as we take a look at the differences between mold and plume, why (if at all) you should be worried, and what to do about each scenario.
In short: mold is bad. But you probably already guessed that. Now imagine the heartbreak of cracking open your humidor to find an ugly colored growth all over your cigars. If you should ever find yourself in this situation, there is unfortunately not much you can do besides throw away the affected cigars.
Identifying cigar mold
It’s important to learn how to identify cigar mold before it spreads to all of your cigars. To begin with, you’ll know it when you see it. It looks a lot like the growth you find on the cheese your wife asked you to throw away three weeks ago. Only instead of on a lump of cheese, it’s on your cigar. The mold you find on cigars is comprised of spores that are typically white or green growth, but mold can come in just about every color of the rainbow.
Can cigar mold spread?
In a word, yes. Cigar mold feeds on sugars found in cigars, and once it’s formed on one cigar, it will continue to reproduce through minuscule spores traveling through the air, making a bad situation worse in a hurry.
What causes cigar mold?
Usually, mold is found on cigars that are stored in environments that are either too wet or too warm—or both. In order to avoid mold, it’s important to keep your cigars under 73 percent humidity and below 73 degrees Fahrenheit. As a general rule of thumb, store your cigars at 70 percent humidity and 70 degrees to keep mold from having an opportunity to start. As a bonus, this also helps prevent cigars from developing cigar beetles (more info here) and allows for better enjoyment, too.
What if you find cigar mold on a cigar?
If you find yourself in this undesirable place, the best thing to do is to immediately remove the affected cigar and trash it. It’s also important to inspect all of the cigars kept in same humidor to make sure they’re not also affected—and after that, keep those cigars quarantined (too soon?) for a period of time before introducing new cigars into your humidor.
Unlike cigar mold, plume can be a positive thing for a cigar aficionado. Plume is the white, powdery dust you sometimes find on cigars, and it’s usually the sign of a well-aged cigar. Plume occurs when the oils of a cigar wrapper crystalize. This happens more often on thick, oily Maduro wrappers like Mexican San Andres or Broadleaf.
How to identify cigar plume
Cigar plume is pretty easy to spot. It looks just like dust, and you can tell immediately if you’re looking at plume if it wipes off when you brush it with a clean, soft towel—or even your finger.
What to do with a cigar with plume
Easy answer. Simply wipe the cigar clean and smoke it. There’s no need to do anything more, and there’s nothing wrong with your cigar.
Bonus tips for preventing mold
- Store your cigars in a cedar humidor or a clean, airtight container.
- Keep your cigars cool, ideally below 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don’t turn off your home air conditioning when traveling.
- Use Boveda packs to maintain proper humidification.
- Keep your humidor out of direct sunlight.
- Only buy your cigars from a professional tobacconist.