Smoking Cigars in The Winter
Smoking a cracked cigar is like trying to drink through a split straw—some, like us, might say it’s even worse. At least with a drink you can toss the straw and keep drinking, but with a cigar, you don’t have any other option. Cold weather can cause cigars to crack, which is why you should take certain steps to limit the likelihood of that happening. Let’s take a closer look at why cigars crack and what you can do to ensure an enjoyable premium cigar smoking experience.
- Smoke cigars with thicker wrappers.
- Smoke smaller format cigars.
- Smoke cigars immediately after their removal from the humidor.
- Invest in a small tent or canopy that you can smoke in outside to keep yourself shielded from cold wind.
- Run a small heater when smoking outside to minimize the change in temperature.
- Ensure proper humidification in your humidor, and add extra Boveda packs if necessary.
- Run a small humidifier in your smoking room, or ensure your furnace has humidification.
As everybody knows, cigars have to be kept humidified in order for you to get the most enjoyment out of them. Why? Because the tobacco leaf works like a sponge, holding tiny amounts of moisture inside. Therefore they have to be kept in a controlled environment.
The ideal humidity for your cigars (which is its own rabbit hole, and something we’ll probably get into in the near future) is subject to a variety of factors. General guidance recommends between 65% and 72% relative humidity to create an ideal burn and taste. It’s this humidification inside of the tobacco that causes the leaf to expand and contract like a road in the winter. This is what causes your cigar to crack.
Water is unique because it expands and becomes less dense when it drops in temperature, which is the reason why ice floats. When you’re smoking in the cold, especially if it’s especially windy out, the water in the tobacco leaf expands slightly. And then when you light the cigar, it undergoes yet another drastic temperature change, stressing the leaf even further. While some thicker leaves can tolerate this change, wrappers that are older and thinner won’t have the same tolerance. Nicaraguan Oscuro, Mexican Andres, Connecticut Broadleaf, and Ecuadorian Sungrown are typically thicker wrappers, while Connecticut Shade and Cameroon wrappers are thinner.
Another common issue in winter that causes cigars to crack is under-humidification. With furnaces running more often to keep the house warm, it pulls humidity out of the air. In turn, frequently opening and closing your humidor lets more dry air in. This is also a concern if your humidor has leaky seals. Pay close attention to your humidification system to ensure you’re not under-humidifying your cigars.
Finally, if you smoke indoors, there’s also a potential drastic change in humidity when you remove the cigar from your humidor. All of these conditions and factors can make or break the premium cigar smoking experience.