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Q & A: What's the Difference Between Bloom and Mold?

Q.
Sometimes I find white patches on my cigars. I can't tell if it is mold or bloom. What exactly is bloom, and how can you tell the difference?

8/14/06 | by RF of Franklin, TN

A.
Bloom, also called plume, refers to the slow rising of essential oils to the surface of a cigar. It is first seen as a white powdery coat that almost looks like a coat of white dust. It's the dried crystallized oils of the tobacco forming on the wrapper. Not only is it harmless, it's considered an indication of a well kept, aged, extra oily cigar. Bloom or plume can also look as if the wrapper has tiny crystals embedded in the leaf. It is not fluffy or look like small spider webs; that is mold. Bloom is always evenly dispersed over the entire cigar. If it's sporadic, or there are a few white patches on the cigar, it's not bloom, but mold. Mold is a fungus commonly found on over-humidified cigars. It can be recognized by its fuzzy, three dimensional, white, blue, yellow, or green film. A common mold found with cigars is blue mold, which manifests itself on the wrapper. Mold appears when the humidity passes approximately 85%, give or take depending on the climate and how the cigars are stored. Mold spreads quickly by spores. It's important to get rid of moldy cigars immediately, before it contaminates the other cigars or gets into the wood of your humidor, which would ultimately ruin the humidor, making a much bigger problem than anyone should have to deal with. If there is just a little mold on one cigar, it can be brushed off and is still smoke-able. Immediate attention should be given to correcting the problem by adjusting your humidity levels in your humidor. Keeping a well stocked humidor often helps regulate the humidity levels naturally (as hard as it is to keep a humidor filled, it's still a method of solving this problem). A few things can be done to help this problem, removing the humidification is a way to start, or add cedar blocks to the inside of the humidor to absorb some of the moisture. If the climate outside of the humidor is lower than what is in the humidor, lifting the lid and letting it dry out can be done successfully without damage to the cigars. Give it an hour or so or just check up on it every so often to see the progress, but always keep a close eye on it. Mold and bloom are commonly confused, but there is a big difference between the two, and once you know how to recognize the difference, it's a piece of cake. Aging is part of the fun with collecting cigars. It lets you hone in on the hobby by providing ideal conditions for your cigars. Bloom is a byproduct of a well aged cigar that has been in a constant environment. Not every cigar will produce bloom. Ideally, the more hearty and oily leaves are, the more bloom they will produce.

by Bryan