Wet Toothpick + Dry Cigar = Winning?
The other night I was at a cigar dinner when the conversation got around to dry cigars. One of the guys who was sitting at the same table I was seated at had a cigar wrapper basically explode on him; which always sucks. It’s never any fun trying to smoke a cigar that is falling apart on you and that is especially the case when it is a quality cigar that was, most likely, improperly cared for.
He asked me what I thought was the problem with the cigar and I said it was most likely a result of being too dry. That’s a problem that becomes more likely in the summer out here in Southern California because the humidity level is usually pretty low and the temperature, while relatively mild this summer, trends towards being hot. Shelling out a little bit of money to take proper care of your cigar (humidor, humidification device – Boveda is best – and a hygrometer/thermometer) is a must if you are planning on storing any cigars. Evidently, this cigar was not properly stored.
After my diagnosis the poor chap with the dry cigar inquired about what can be done for a dry cigar. The short answer is to put the dry stick in a humidified environment and gradually increase that humidity level to about 67-70% RH (long answer here).
And then there was the toothpick solution.
Evidently, a fellow at an adjacent table, it was a small event so the capacity for accidentally overhearing others’ conversations was pretty easy, boldly proclaimed that there was another solution: the wet toothpick. I must confess, from the outset I was extremely dubious – in fact, I still am because I have not tried this procedure as of yet. But I listened anyway and here’s what he had to say:
“I have this friend [already I'm thinking "Uh-oh"] from Cuba ["So this must be good because we all know cigar smoking is something all Cubans are universally good at"] who, when faced with a dry cigar, will wet a toothpick and stick it in through the foot of the cigar. This way the humidity gets to expand from the inside out and evenly humidifies the cigar. He still puts the cigar in his humidor but the toothpick is the key. I’ve tried it and it works in a couple of days.”
Even though I was dubious we all thanked him for his advice and went on with our meal. The thing is that even though the meal was delicious and I was smoking some properly humidified cigars I just could not get the stranger’s advice out of my mind. On the face of it the whole idea of a wet toothpick just does not make sense to me: the toothpick will make the filler tobacco too wet, the toothpick might somehow screw up the bunching of the tobacco, the toothpick is too short to evenly humidify the filler tobaccos from cap to foot and what happens if you forget about the toothpick and smoke the cigar? “Damn, this cigar has a cheap woody flavor that is ruining the delicate balance between the spice and sweetness” – yeah, that would suck.
Then the self recriminating began. Really, is it so far fetched that a wet toothpick could save a dry cigar? Maybe not. People use those draw enhancing things whenever they get a poor draw from their cigar and they seem to like the results. Maybe the toothpick cannot get so wet that it gets the filler tobacco damp. Maybe this guy’s Cuban friend is licensed and bonded as a cigar doctor. It could work!
Or maybe not.
Personally, I’m going to stick with properly humidifying my cigars and if some get too dry I’ll just plop them into the deep recesses of one of my humidors so that they don’t have to suffer the indignity of getting a stick shoved up their… foot.
Hey, if you want to try it though, be my guest. And if it works come back to this post and share your experience with all of us.