Can you tell a CC just by the ash?


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Hey folks,

I was at my neighbors house on thanksgiving night enjoying some scotch and cigars with my neighbor and his brother. I brought over a few cubans that I had purchased In Sao Paulo a while back. My neighbors brother stated that the cigar I gave him, that he was smoking...was a fake. When I asked him how he knew, he responded with, "well you can tell by the color of the ash. This ash is white in color and cubans produce an ash that is mostly black and grey". Is this true? Is this a definative way of determining whether a cuban is fake? Or are there other factors that can be observed?

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I'm no ash expert, but I think it would be difficult to discern definitively the origin of the cigar, much less if it is fake or not, by the color of the ash.

Could it be that your neighbor and his brother was sloshed when he stated this?

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Yes we were all drinking but this gentleman claimed to be quite the cigar expert. I do know that the next night when we got together, I gave him what I beleived to be a real Bolivar Royal Corona and he loved it and yes the ash was blackish grey.

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Keenly interested only in anything relevant to his work, Holmes wrote a famous monograph based on his long study of tobacco ash. "I found the ash of a cigar, which my special knowledge of tobacco ashes enables me to pronounce as an Indian cigar," he informed Watson in the course of the investigation, ‘The Boscombe Valley Murder.’

"I have, as you know, devoted some attention to this, and written a little monograph on the ashes of 140 different varieties of pipe, cigar, and cigarette tobacco. Having found the ash, I then looked round and discovered the stump among the moss where he had tossed it. It was an Indian cigar, of the variety which are rolled in Rotterdam."

In ‘The Sign of the Four’, Holmes again demonstrated his expertise with the statement: "...there is as much difference between the black ash of a Trichinopoly and the white fluff of bird's eye as there is between a cabbage and a potato."

It appears, unfortunately, that Holmes's extensive knowledge of tobacco was largely ignored by the police at Scotland Yard, who have since made up for this startling oversight.

There you have it: Scotland Yard can help!! :unsure:

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Cuban ash is predominantly black/grey.

Cuban ask can sometimes grey white/light grey

Cuban ash can sometimes be white grey (uncommon).

if it is a bell curve then balck grey is the mid point with white on the right and black on the left.

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Cuban ash is predominantly black/grey.

Cuban ask can sometimes grey white/light grey

Cuban ash can sometimes be white grey (uncommon).

if it is a bell curve then balck grey is the mid point with white on the right and black on the left.

I stand corrected. LOL. Thanks Prez! :unsure:

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Cuban ash is predominantly black/grey.

Cuban ask can sometimes grey white/light grey

Cuban ash can sometimes be white grey (uncommon).

I have been thinking of this, and even done some experiment. If you burn a wood log (sorry no tobacco test yet) with a low temperature it will be grey, but if you burn the same wood with a higher temperatur (i added bure oxygen to the fire) the ash will turn out white... I dont know how this correlate to cigar ash, and the burn process of tobacco...

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I have been thinking of this, and even done some experiment. If you burn a wood log (sorry no tobacco test yet) with a low temperature it will be grey, but if you burn the same wood with a higher temperatur (i added bure oxygen to the fire) the ash will turn out white... I dont know how this correlate to cigar ash, and the burn process of tobacco...

Spot on.

Burn/temperature (and hence construction) has a great effect on the colour of the ash. In general the hotter the burn the whiter/lighter the ash.

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It has something to do with the sulphur content in the soil of Cuba relative to the content of sulphur on say Nicaraguan or Dominican soil.

That's why the colour of the ash is different, because the sulphur in non-cuban tobacco makes it burn hotter thus whiter.

I don't know whether this effects the flavour of the cigar, but i've got a feeling it does (or at least has an influence).

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Min Ron Nee has written an excellent piece on ash in his "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post Revolution Havana Cigars". Incomplete combustion of the tobacco leaf seems to be part of his explanation. He gives a few other potential reasons as well. Also worth mentioning - is the ash white the whole way through or just on the outside of the cigar? Seems in my experience the darker/maduro wrappers have a very white ash in most cases.

Fully agreed - same thoughts here, both on the MRN explanation (who knows if it is 100% accurate though), and on the maduro wrappers.

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Thanks to all for their replies. Alot of good info but what it tells me is, Unless your name is Sherlock holmes or work for Scotland Yard....you'll never be able to identify the cigar as a Cuban solely by the color of the ash. Am I right? :2thumbs:

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Thanks to all for their replies. Alot of good info but what it tells me is, Unless your name is Sherlock holmes or work for Scotland Yard....you'll never be able to identify the cigar as a Cuban solely by the color of the ash. Am I right? :2thumbs:

you're correct. Ash color may be indicative of the origin, but any expert wouldn't hang his hat on just that one attribute.

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you're correct. Ash color may be indicative of the origin, but any expert wouldn't hang his hat on just that one attribute.

Perfectly put, Habanos. I noticed the difference as well when switching to CCs, but as El Prez pointed out there is a spectrum of ash color for Cubans. I usually want three indicators before I start thinking I have a fake. The most indicative factor is probably the aftertaste once the cigar is out. Much less noticable on CCs.

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Thanks to all for their replies. Alot of good info but what it tells me is, Unless your name is Sherlock holmes or work for Scotland Yard....you'll never be able to identify the cigar as a Cuban solely by the color of the ash. Am I right? :confused:

I don't think anyone could tell you 100% for sure based on the ash alone. Cuban cigar ash is usually very much a dark grey, mottled type of color and ash. NC's can also have this type of ash, but more times than not the ash on an NC is an almost while neat ash. Again this is just my personal observations, and I sincerely doubt I could tell if a cigar was cuban for sure just based on ash.

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I have been thinking of this, and even done some experiment. If you burn a wood log (sorry no tobacco test yet) with a low temperature it will be grey, but if you burn the same wood with a higher temperatur (i added bure oxygen to the fire) the ash will turn out white... I dont know how this correlate to cigar ash, and the burn process of tobacco...

This is spot on and I have tested it. I have some IR thermal equipment and have experimented with temperatures of cigars and tobacco many times. Not real publish in the Journal of Science stuff but enough to convince me of my beliefs. I think Bwana's evaluation of ash is pretty accurate as well and I almost alway question gurus, purveyors of wives tales and those who answer questions regarding CC's with absolute authority and/or without room for error.

I would say for the record that I don't believe that anyone can "positively identify" a CC from ash color alone. There is too much room for error. I do think that there is a large correlation of ash color to temperature and that correlates to dryness, amount of mass flux of air and the tightness of construction. There are optical factors as well. Viewing ash color in different light represents different color ash.

I wonder how many of you know that I have measured temperatures at the foot of a cigar close to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. It would not surprise me find out if there are points of combustion that are much higher than that.

Cheers. -Piggy

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This is spot on and I have tested it. I have some IR thermal equipment and have experimented with temperatures of cigars and tobacco many times. Not real publish in the Journal of Science stuff but enough to convince me of my beliefs. I think Bwana's evaluation of ash is pretty accurate as well and I almost alway question gurus, purveyors of wives tales and those who answer questions regarding CC's with absolute authority and/or without room for error.

I would say for the record that I don't believe that anyone can "positively identify" a CC from ash color alone. There is too much room for error. I do think that there is a large correlation of ash color to temperature and that correlates to dryness, amount of mass flux of air and the tightness of construction. There are optical factors as well. Viewing ash color in different light represents different color ash.

I wonder how many of you know that I have measured temperatures at the foot of a cigar close to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. It would not surprise me find out if there are points of combustion that are much higher than that.Cheers. -Piggy

Every organic item has a flash point and burn point.

Some as high as several thousand degrees.

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Wow, some really interesting replies and some food for thought. Thanks again, you might have read on my other thread "got raped in Sao Paulo" that I was upset about buying fakes from a local tabacaria there. Now I don't feel so bad...but I'm still not so sure I didn't either :confused:

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The only thing i know for sure is that your neighbour outed himself as a non expert using half baked theories. ;-)

As for the cigars bought in Brasil. If you enjoyed them they were worth it. Of course it is always better to go with trusted sources.

As for ashes itself I have nothing to add to what has been said here.

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In my unscientific experience, I believe that the ash of well-aged Habanos tends to be lighter than that of more recent vintages.

It may have to do with more complete combustion of aged tobacco, or the fact that different strains of tobacco were used years ago, or something else. I dunno.

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Hey folks,

I was at my neighbors house on thanksgiving night enjoying some scotch and cigars with my neighbor and his brother. I brought over a few cubans that I had purchased In Sao Paulo a while back. My neighbors brother stated that the cigar I gave him, that he was smoking...was a fake. When I asked him how he knew, he responded with, "well you can tell by the color of the ash. This ash is white in color and cubans produce an ash that is mostly black and grey". Is this true? Is this a definative way of determining whether a cuban is fake? Or are there other factors that can be observed?

A little bit of info in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing.

Your neighbor's brother is an ash expert? Pffft. Let's just stick with "he's an ash", and a rude one to boot.

I've had many a CC, a real CC, that produced a white ash, especially from the wrapper. Not usual, but hardly something I'd want to use as a basis for insulting someone who just gave me a prized possession to smoke.

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