8 Cigar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

8 Cigar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Feb 27 2024

Avoiding common cigar mistakes as a beginner will help to ensure that you have a more enjoyable experience. From purchasing to cutting, lighting and following the proper etiquette, there are many opportunities to smoke a cigar the right way. Establishing this foundation early on can give you a gratifying experience and a great sense of confidence in the early stages of this venture.

Embarking on a journey to master the skill of smoking a stogie can be a breeze when you avoid common cigar mistakes. You are in luck if you are ready to learn what not to do when smoking a cigar. We have a list to help you learn how to sidestep some common pitfalls.

Purchasing Mistakes

Cigar smoking mistakes can start during the purchasing process, such as picking a cigar brand based solely on its popularity. Premium cigars are handmade natural products, which can create slight differences, even between two of the same brand. That's right: No two cigars are the same. So, when you are browsing a selection, focus on your own journey, so to speak. With a wide range of flavor profiles, sizes and regions available, you can find a cigar that suits your taste. Just ask a professional for some guidance. As you dive into the realm of cigar smoking, remember that the most important part of this venture is to enjoy it. Remember these common cigar mistakes as you shop. 

1. In-Store Errors

Newcomers often need to correct the mistake of smelling the cellophane when purchasing cigars in a store. It is ineffective to try and gauge a cigar's authentic aroma when it's still packaged, as the scent will not pass through the plastic covering. Choosing a cigar solely based on its wrapper is another common pitfall. Wrappers contribute to the cigar's appearance but do not dictate its flavor profile. For example, light-colored wrappers may seem to indicate that the cigar has a mild flavor, but this is not always the case — these cigars are often strong with an intense taste. 

Hot Tip: While you cannot open a cigar in-store to smell it, you can do your research beforehand. Talk to smokers with ample experience or read online reviews to get a better idea of the aromas certain stogies have to offer. If you really want to build an appreciation for cigars, prioritize understanding the binder and filler tobacco. 

2. Not Opting for a Sampler Pack

If you have little to no experience with cigars, you might not know exactly what you are looking for when it comes to aroma and size. Skipping a sampler pack will deprive you of getting more diverse experiences with cigars, which can help you determine what you enjoy.

Hot Tip: Exploring various brands and blends is the best way to find your taste and size preference. This is a good way to broaden your palate by trying out a mixed range without committing to a whole box. You will get to test out a few brands, sizes and wrappers to define your liking. As you try out a sampler pack, embrace the opportunity to enjoy a spectrum of flavors as you learn more about cigars. If you prefer starting small, opt for a light-bodied cigar. These are more forgiving and will not overwhelm you as you enjoy the subtleties of tobacco.

Improper Storage

Mastering the storage basics of your cigars will ensure that you have a gratifying smoking experience. Improper storage can compromise your stogies and cause them to deteriorate. Extreme temperatures and humidity fluctuations can accelerate a cigar's aging process, leading to unappealing flavors and uneven burn. Keeping cigars near odorous substances like cologne can also affect the taste, as can storing different cigar brands together. Here are some more storage mistakes to be wary of when exploring the world of cigars. 

3. Not Using a Humidor

Not using a humidor is a mistake if you want to preserve your cigars' freshness. And the fridge does not count as a humidor. Without proper storage, cigars will dry out, leaving you with stogies that have less flavorful smoke and a harsh taste. You also run the risk of your cigars becoming moldy or the wrapper cracking. Storing your cigars anywhere but inside a humidor leads to a stogie that does not burn evenly or taste the way it should.

Hot Tip: Invest in a humidor to avoid this pitfall. Look for one with a reliable hygrometer that will keep your cigars at a humidity level of 70% on a consistent basis. 

4. Steaming Cigars

One of the biggest mistakes cigar smokers make when they do not store their stogies properly is to try and revive the cigars through steaming. If your cigars dry out, avoid steaming them in an attempt to revive the tobacco, as this can damage the tobacco leaves. Additionally, the varying temperatures in the different layers of the cigar will affect the overall flavor and potentially split the wrapper.

Hot Tip: Hope is not lost if your cigars accidentally dry out. Simply place them in a humidor for a few weeks and they will gradually rehydrate. This process is slow, so the tobacco leaves experience no shock and will retain their flavor and structural integrity.

Cutting and Lighting

Clipping and lighting a cigar using the wrong techniques can impact the aroma and flavor of your stogie. A cigar can only draw when you cut the cap, which means that not cutting the cap or cutting it wrong will affect the concentration of the draw. A controlled cut, however, will enhance your cigar experience. Set aside any "cool tricks" you have seen in the media and focus on the proper techniques to enjoy your experience more. Be aware of the following two common mistakes. 

5. Clipping Too Much

New smokers often over-clip their cigars, which damages the wrapper and can negatively impact the draw. Another clipping mistake is not using a cigar cutter. Using a knife or similar tool will not give you an accurate cut, which affects the burn and cigar flavor. Failing to cut the cap means the cigar cannot create airflow to facilitate a draw. Over-clipping can also cause the cigar to unravel, which is not something you want to deal with while surrounded by company.

Hot Tip: Less is more when it comes to clipping your cigars — make a precise but shallow cut just above the cap. Use a sharp guillotine cutter or a punch cutter to steer clear of damaging the tobacco by getting a clean, controlled cut. If you use a punch cutter, remember to twist instead of push the cigar in. Otherwise, you can crack the cap. You only need to slice off a small amount. Find where the cap ends and use a straight or V-cut on that line, just above the shoulder of your cigar. Leave the band on the cigar until the burn line is close to the band because this will allow you to remove it without tearing a hole in your stogie.

6. Lighting Mistakes

Using sulfur matches is a sure way to negatively impact cigar taste. Lighting a cigar with sulfur matches will infuse the cigar with that flavor. Petrol lighters pose the same problem, as the fuel's aroma seeps into the cigar and can alter its taste. Excessively burning your cigar's end is another common misstep that can compromise the tobacco, leading to a harsh taste.

Hot Tip: Opt for a cigar lighter, wooden matches or cedar spills that offer clean ignition. You want to keep your cigar from sitting directly in the flame when you are lighting it, and using extra-length, nonsulfur matches will set you on the right path. As you light the cigar, hold it just above the flame and rotate it slowly for an even light. Gently puff to help secure an even burn on the lit end. You will have to do this several times until you get an opaque white smoke — now the cigar is ready to be enjoyed. The trick is to be patient and allow the cigar to light gradually. 

Pacing and Etiquette

Cigar smoking should be a slow and relaxing experience, and you can savor every draw by keeping an unhurried pace. New smokers often struggle to maintain a leisurely pace. Pacing yourself helps prevent overheating the cigar, which can lead to a bitter taste and uneven burning. Take a puff every minute or so to keep yourself from rushing through your cigar and really take part in the communal aspect of cigar smoking. Also, avoid chomping on your cigar — it looks cool in Westerns, but you are almost guaranteed to end up with a mouth full of tobacco. Avoiding these mistakes will help you with pacing and etiquette. 

7. Inhaling the Smoke

Cigars are made of robust, unfiltered tobacco, which produces a harsher smoke than cigarettes. Inhaling a cigar can harm your lungs due to its high alkalinity and direct nicotine intake. When inhaled, cigar smoke enters your bloodstream rapidly and can leave you feeling ill. Also, remember that nicotine can cause nausea, so it is good practice to have something to eat before you light up. Alternatively, keep some chocolate or water on hand.

Hot Tip: Cigars are more about puffing than inhaling. You hold the smoke in your mouth rather than pulling it into your lungs. Let the taste roll over your tongue before blowing it out slowly. This is not a hard-and-fast rule but rather part of cigar etiquette. When you choose not to inhale, you are in line with the intended and traditional manner of enjoying cigars.

8. Stubbing in an Ashtray

Unlike cigarettes, you should not stub it out after you are done smoking. Doing this will release a profoundly unpleasant odor and damage the cigar. Cigars stop burning by themselves after a few minutes of disuse, so just rest it on the ashtray.

Ashing too often might stem from an old habit or a need to keep the cigar tidy, but it is a bad idea. Ash acts as an insulator and helps your stogie burn more consistently and with flavor. Frequent ashing will disrupt the cigar's natural burn, leading to over-puffing and potentially a hotter, harsher smoke. 

Hot Tip: Take moderate puffs and pace yourself. You can even let the cigar rest between draws without ashing after every puff. A well-rolled stogie will likely hold the ash longer than you expect. Try to wait until the cigar is ready to ash naturally. Avoid not smoking past the band, as you can enjoy a few additional flavors so close to the end of your stogie. When you are done smoking, let the cigar burn out on its own and dispose of it when the end is cool. If you save the rest of your cigar for later, you can snip off one-half inch from the ash line and store it in an airtight container. Do not put it back in the humidor, as this can compromise your unlit cigars. 

Bonus Tips for Beginners

There is no rush to become an expert. Remember that cigar smoking is a personal experience, and you have to learn all the nuances of the process through experience. Now that you have some preparation on what to try and avoid, it is time to see how you can make it your own. Boost your cigar-smoking experience by incorporating these tips into your next or first session:

  • Relighting the right way: Do not put the cigar in your mouth whether you are relighting or lighting up for the first time. Hold it with your fingertips to gently rotate it as you toast the end with a lighter.
  • Pairing ideas: Play around with pairings. You can pair a cigar with a whiskey, coffee or chocolate to boost the flavors while creating an enjoyable social experience.
  • Nose-exhale: Exhale through your nose if you can. This can add a new layer of taste by unlocking some of the more subtle notes in your stogie.
  • Premium cigars: Make sure you smoke a premium cigar with a 100% long-filler or long-leaf tobacco, as this will give you the most authentic experience.
  • The right hold: Use a gentle yet secure hold by keeping the cigar between your thumb and fingertips. You will have more control, be able to easily rotate the cigar and avoid accidentally dropping ash on yourself.

Get the Ultimate Cigar Experience With Corona Cigar Co.

Avoiding common cigar mistakes optimizes your overall smoking experience. Cigar smoking is all about prioritizing the appreciation of flavors. It is a leisurely experience, and you should take your time with the process, ensuring you take the right steps and enjoy every second of it. When you know how to steer clear of the most common mistakes, you are well on your way to becoming a pro at cigar smoking.

Starting with a sample pack is a great way to determine what kind of stogies you enjoy because experimentation helps you learn more. Corona Cigar Co. is an industry leader. We are the largest, most user-friendly virtual cigar store, with premium cigars for all tastes, catering to beginners and aficionados alike. Get your cigar samplers, accessories, humidors and more online today and get free shipping on orders of $125 or more.