For any cigar lovers out there, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than staring into your humidor to find your precious cigars staring back with some mysterious white or green substance clinging to the wrapper. 

Is it our worst nightmare, cigar mold? Or is it something less threatening like plume? That’s what we’re here to answer. 

So, before you decide it’s mold and start throwing all your cigars to the trash, check out this blog so you can 100% know if you’ve got a serious problem, or just some cigar plume.

What is cigar mold?

We’ve all seen it. You reach into your cupboard to grab a loaf of bread and when you open it up, instead of a fresh loaf, you’re met with little bits of white and green scattered about. It’s mold, and the type that affects your precious cigars is very similar. 

Cigar mold can present itself in an array of unattractive colors:

  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Gray
  • Blue
  • White 

Mold is such a menace to your cigar collection because it’s technically alive, and can grow and spread to your other cigars. It lives and thrives in high-humidity and high-heat (normally over 70%) which allows the mold to reproduce through minuscule spores traveling through the air.

In addition to mold thriving in conditions similar to your humidor, most mold feeds off sugars (like those found in tobacco) and can quickly spread in an environment that provides the perfect combination of these factors.

What's the difference between mold and plume?

Now, before you go throwing out your whole cigar collection thinking they’re moldy, you may want to inspect a bit closer, because it could only be cigar plume.

What’s that you may ask?

Cigar plume, also known as “bloom” is a sparkly-white dust on your cigar’s wrapper. Now, unlike mold, cigar plume is actually a good thing.

This occurs when the oils from your cigar make their way to the surface of the wrapper and crystallize. Simply put, plume is the sign of a well-aged cigar. If your stogies are showing any of this white powder, just brush it off before you cut and light. Keep in mind, cigars made from oily tobacco, like Maduros, are more likely to develop plume after being stored in humidors for long periods of time.

Unlike mold, plume is always: 

  • White or light gray
  • Covering the entire body of your cigar

If that white substance on your cigars is actually plume, don’t fret, it’s just showing that your humidor is doing a great job of keeping your stogies fresh.

How to spot mold on cigars?

Unlike plume, which is flat, if there’s mold on your cigars it will be:

  • Three-dimensional, and fuzzy or bumpy to the touch
  • Spotty or splotchy, rather than covering the entire cigar

Do keep in mind, mold can spread from the surface to deep inside your cigars, making the spots difficult to wipe off. Plus, rubbing a spot of mold will leave discoloration on the wrapper of the cigar. 

Lastly, mold can-and-probably-will have an unpleasant smell. So, if you think your precious stogies have been affected by mold, go ahead and give the cigar a quick sniff. If there’s a musty aroma, unfortunately it’s time to let that cigar go.

Can you smoke a cigar with mold?

It really depends on two things, how advanced the mold progression is, and how daring you are as a human being. 

To be honest, we wouldn’t suggest smoking any cigars that have the slightest amount of mold growth. But, here’s a fast fact to keep in mind. 

  • If the mold on your cigars has turned green or blue, that cigar is 100% gone, and should absolutely not be smoked. 

Now, if you’re daring and have an intense emotional connection to that cigar, you can actually still smoke it if the mold is white and hasn’t spread to the interior. 

But, before you smoke it, you’ll want to ensure you’ve killed that mold and stopped any further progression. 

Take your in-question cigars out of your humidor and put them in the freezer for about 24-36 hours. Then, give them a little time in your refrigerator before bringing them back to room temperature.

How to get mold out of your humidor?

If you’ve unfortunately found mold on your cigars, there could be a chance that the mold has now made its way from your cigars to your humidor. If you were to smell your humidor and notice a faint, musty stench, then it’s time to clean your humidor.

  • Begin by emptying your cigars out of your humidor 
  • Brush the mold off your cigars, and place them in a cool, dry place while you clean your humidor.
  • Next, take your humidor outside and brush any growing mold from it, trying not to stain the interior wood surface.

Once you’ve completed the above steps, it’s time to make sure you’ve killed the spores. 

  • Wipe down your humidor’s inside surfaces with a mix of water and isopropyl alcohol
  • Leave your humidor open while the alcohol dries 

Keep in mind, depending on the severity of your humidor’s mold outbreak, it may require several cleanings to completely remove all the mold. 

Also, you may still notice that musty smell. If so, try setting a paper plate of baking soda in your humidor to absorb the smell.

How to prevent mold on cigars?

Like G.I. Joe always said, “knowing is half the battle.” The same goes for making sure your cigars are kept mold-free. Here’s a few last helpful tips from the cigar world cigar gurus to make sure your precious stogies are kept in tip-top shape.

  • Mold grows in humidors with a humidity of 70% or higher, make sure yours is kept at proper temperatures and humidity
  • Rotate and inspect your cigars regularly to lessen the potential for mold growth
  • Check your hygrometer frequently
  • Use only distilled water or a solution of propylene glycol in your humidifier because tap water may contain mold spores or bacteria that can harm your cigars

Stay mold free!

Keep in mind, cigar mold can quickly ruin your entire collection of precious cigars, so it’s worth the time and trouble to keep it away. Take these tips into consideration and you’ll always have fresh cigars ready for any smoking occasion!

If you have any other tips or tricks for spotting mold or getting rid of it, let us know in the comments!

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Comments

  • Member Avatar

    Git Dat

    (6 months ago)

    That was very helpful

  • Member Avatar

    RadRacer

    (6 months ago)

    Put it under a microscope and you'll be surprised. Friends of Habanos did a study a few years back with several different samplings of what was considered "Plum" quality cigars. Every one of them came back positive as mold infestation. Take that information as you wish; I'm not going to say that It's necessarily bad; there are some molds like which processors that are very beneficial and contribute to product quality and long aging for food products. Perhaps that also holds true for cigars.

    With that being said; anyone who's actually done proper cigar rolling knows that this is an organic product and dried bales come with all sorts of interesting things: mold, spiderwebs, critters, et cetera. It's the responsibility of the cigar roller to ensure these things do not make it into the end product and it's all part of the cleaning and casing process. If you keep your RH at 60-65% you will seldom ever have mold issues.

  • Member Avatar

    Mattster

    (6 months ago)

    One thing folks don't often realize is mold is a toxin for our bodies but if you have a normal immune system it's not an issue. If you have an immune system issue such as being on immuno suppressent drugs after an organ transplant or an allergy, mold can be deadly +especiallyor make one very sick) when it is aerosolized in smoke.

  • Member Avatar

    YeshKai

    (6 months ago)

    Actually it’s true f the plume and that is perfect as stated and the cigars do taste way different in a better positive way it’s when they’ve been in sitting as they say for a long LONG time I’m humidors I experienced it many times Phoenix Arizona a few years ago ver light over the whole cigars and I actually looked for them every time and got some of the top and best named cigars on the market. Very very tasty 😋

  • Member Avatar

    Mrmessy

    (6 months ago)

    unfortunately, there has been zero evidence of the existence of the myth of plume. it has always been mold. some mold you can wipe off, some not so much. but, always mold.

    • Member Avatar

      Cody

      (6 months ago)

      Thanks Mrmessy, someone beat me to it. I love seeing this posted everywhere on the internet. For the love of cigars, if your cigar has anything on it, it's either mold or bacteria. Don't smoke them and better yet, if you see them in a shop, don't buy them. Stop playing into this crap from the industry. Cigar World, I thought ya'll were legit. Time to rethink. There's too many cigars out there in good condition to be smoked, don't smoke moldy(plume) cigars.