Canoeing is great if you're trying to travel down a river, but if you're trying to smoke a cigar, it's a very different story. If you've laid down hard-earned dollars for a high-quality cigar, would you really be happy only smoking half of it? That's the dark side of cigar canoeing.
If you've smoked your fair share of cigars, you know that canoeing is sometimes a fact of life; it can ruin the smoking experience of even the nicest cigar. Thankfully, if you learn these methods, you'll know exactly what to do--that way, next time you won't be up the creek without a paddle.
What Exactly Does Canoeing Mean?
Canoeing, sometimes referred to as cigar flagging or running, is a cigar smoker's worst nightmare. Well...maybe it's not as bad as dropping the cigar in a glass of nice scotch, but it's still pretty bad. Simply put, "canoeing" refers to one side of the cigar burning faster than the other side. Left unfixed, this will eventually split the cigar in half (making it resemble a canoe, hence the name).
It's important to make sure that canoeing is indeed the problem you're facing. There are similar problems, for instance, that must be solved with more advanced methods. One example is tunneling. Tunneling occurs when the outer layer (wrapper) is extinguished while the inner layer (filler) keeps burning. Once you understand the difference, it's easy to tell the difference between canoeing and tunneling.
Just as there are several names for the phenomenon of cigar flagging, there are also several methods to fix it, and a few to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Solutions for the Cigar Smoker: How You Can Prevent Cigar Canoeing
Now that we've defined the problem, let's look at some common ways to solve this commonplace issue--whether you call it flagging or canoeing--that has plagued cigar smokers lo these many years...
Take Your Time Lighting the Cigar
Let's start at the beginning: the right time to start preventing canoeing is the moment at which you put a match to the cigar. Take your time--make sure the cigar foot has been lit completely and evenly.
This won't prevent all instances of canoeing, but it will give you a better chance of stopping it.
Storing Your Cigars Properly
Do you have cigars that you're saving for a special occasion? You can do your future self a favor by storing your stogies properly; your humidor needs to have proper airflow. If the airflow is constricted in some way, the cigar will dry unevenly, causing one side to burn faster than the other. Humidity is another important variable when it comes to storing your cigars.
The "Wait and See" Method
The simplest method to prevent cigar canoeing is to simply stop puffing the cigar. Set it down in an ashtray when you begin to see the telltale signs. It's not always an effective method to prevent flagging, but it's an easy fix sometimes if you can catch the canoe before it really takes off.
Re-Burning the Cigar
One of the most commonly-used methods is to re-light the cigar. While this is a popular method, it can decrease the amount of time you'll have to smoke. What's more, it may not necessarily fix the problem for very long--chances are, you may have to re-burn a canoeing cigar two or three times.
The Finger Lick Method
You've probably seen this method at use if you're a seasoned cigar smoker, but you might not be comfortable enough to try it yourself. Don't worry--it's easy. All you need to do is lick your finger (don't overdo it, a little saliva is just fine), then gently press it down on the part of the cigar that has begun to canoe. This should even out the cherry of the cigar, but it might require a few tries to get it right.
Key Takeaways to Prevent Canoeing in the Future
No cigar smoker should be ignorant of the methods to fix flagging and canoeing--it's an unfortunate occurrence that can limit your enjoyment of even the finest cigars.
By being mindful of the root causes of cigar canoeing and cigar flagging, you can avoid ruining a nice cigar that you've been waiting to enjoy. Even though there are some tried-and-true ways to fix the problem, it's easiest to avoid in the first place by storing the cigars in a properly ventilated, evenly humid humidor.
There are a variety of troubleshooting methods, but even the savviest aficionado will tell you that the easiest way to stop a flagging cigar in its track is to simply stop smoking the cigar and set it down.
We hope you use these suggestions to get an even greater enjoyment out of your next smoking session--you'll be glad you did. Let us know below if you have any comments or questions!