A Cigar Smoker’s Guide to Mold vs. Plume

Welcome to the world of fine cigars! At Hiland’s Cigars, with our rich experience spanning five decades in Scottsdale, Arizona, we believe in providing not just top-notch cigars and accessories, but also educating our customers. One of the challenges that both novice and intermediate cigar enthusiasts might face is identifying the difference between mold and plume on a cigar. These two occurrences can be confusing, but understanding them is crucial for enjoying a great smoking experience. Here’s a detailed guide to help you distinguish between the mold and plume on your cigars.

Is it Mold or Plume?

Mold is a fungal growth that can appear on a cigar if it’s stored improperly. It’s a sign of a problem, and it can ruin a cigar. In fact, it can ruin a whole box or humidor full of cigars if you don’t manage the situation quickly.  No one wants to smoke a moldy cigar! It’s most likely not good for you and the flavor won’t be great either.  You need to know how to identify mold and what to do if you find it on one of your cigars.

Plume (or bloom, as some call it), on the other hand, is a harmless crystallization of tobacco leaf oils and is often considered a sign of a well-aged cigar. Though it might seem like mold and plume can be hard to tell apart, it really is easy once you’ve seen the two side-by-side.  Even if you don’t get an opportunity to see them side-by-side, plume (the good stuff) brushes off easily and is almost like a powdered sugar.

Characteristics of Mold on a Cigar:

  • Sometimes fuzzy appearance
  • Can be white, blue, green, or other colors
  • Often spreads to other cigars
  • Can cling to the cigar wrapper leaf and be difficult to remove without damaging the cigar
  • Often leaves a musty odor and flavor

Characteristics of Plume on a Cigar:

  • White and powdery appearance, almost like powdered sugar or fine dust
  • Easily brushed off and doesn’t damage the cigar
  • Doesn’t spread to other cigars (though other cigars in the box might have it, too)
  • No unpleasant odor or taste

How to Handle Mold on a Cigar:

  • Inspect Carefully: If you find one moldy cigar, check others in the same humidor. You don’t want to smoke these cigars.
  • Isolate: Remove any affected cigars to prevent the spread of mold.
  • Clean: Wipe the humidor with distilled water and let it dry completely.
  • Evaluate: Try to find the source of the issue.  Why did these cigars get moldy? It’s important to identify the problem and solve it before other cigars start to mold.
  • Discard: Sadly, it’s best to throw away moldy cigars.

How to Handle Plume on a Cigar:

  • Celebrate: Plume is a sign of a good aging process.
  • Brush Off: Use a soft brush to remove it, if desired.

Pro Tip:

Store cigars at the correct temperature, ideally around 70°F, to encourage plume development without risking mold.  Always use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels in your humidor. Ideal levels are between 65-70%.  Though this can be a bit of work to maintain, keeping your humidor at the right temperature and humidity is key to bringing out all of the flavors in your cigars.  So, take this seriously and spend 15 minutes a week maintaining your humidor.  You’ll never have mold issues and your cigars will be fresh and tasty every time!

Mold vs. Plume FAQs

  1. I Have White Mold on My Cigar, What can I do?
    • You need to make sure this is actually mold. Yes, mold can be white and might look similar to plume. But it’ll have a fuzzy texture, unlike plume. Plume will brush off easily and it feels almost like a very fine dust.
  2. Is Plume a Sign of Quality or is Cigar Plume Bad?
    • Plume indicates proper aging and maintenance. It’s considered a positive feature by many enthusiasts. Cigar plume is definitely not an issue and isn’t considered bad at all.
  3. Can Mold Spread to Other Cigars?
    • Absolutely. Mold can spread easily, so it’s vital to isolate affected cigars promptly.
  4. Can I Smoke a Cigar with Plume on It?
    • Yes! Simply brush off the plume, and you can enjoy the cigar.
  5. How Can I Prevent Mold in My Humidor?
    • Regular maintenance, using distilled water in humidification devices, and monitoring humidity levels can prevent mold growth.

Understanding the differences between mold and plume on a cigar can enhance your smoking experience and help you maintain your collection properly. Remember, mold is a problem, while plume is often a sign of a well-maintained, aged cigar. For any further assistance, feel free to contact us at Hiland’s Cigars, where expertise meets quality.  If you’re having trouble identifying mold or plume, feel free to send us a picture and we’ll help you identify and remedy the situation.  As always, we offer great prices on cigars (including clearance prices on cigars) and we have a huge inventory of popular cigar brands to choose from.  Shop for cigars online, give us a call, or come in to the Arizona Shop and have a cigar with us!  Thanks for choosing Hiland’s and happy smoking!

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