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I am still interested in the question of whether or not conditions that cause mold or the presence of mold is an indicator of a better cigar. Regardless of what the stuff is, does it help / improve / serve as a marker of goodness?

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I prefer my cigars on the drier side, so I would say that the conditions that cause mold growth do not improve it... but they still taste wonderful.

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On 6/21/2018 at 9:04 PM, luvdunhill said:

I am still interested in the question of whether or not conditions that cause mold or the presence of mold is an indicator of a better cigar. Regardless of what the stuff is, does it help / improve / serve as a marker of goodness?

 

I have often wondered this too. Maybe this is a stretch, but think about something like salami/charcuterie or cheese. Certain molds actually contribute to improve the flavor of such things. This is also true of dry aged beef. It doesn't sound all that crazy when you think of it this way.

 

On 6/24/2018 at 1:12 AM, Spanishcedar said:

I prefer my cigars on the drier side, so I would say that the conditions that cause mold growth do not improve it... but they still taste wonderful.

 

I agree with this as well. I do prefer mine on the drier side too, but if it did hold true that mold improved flavor it doesn't mean one couldn't just dry box after having stored at the higher humidity.

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I’ve been in a battle with cigar mold for more than 10 years now. I’ve been using this “quarantine” set up for 5 years.

(Step 1) I unwrap the cigar box and transfer cigars (without touching them) into a brand new acrylic jar.

(Step 2) I use Boveda humidipaks

(Step 3) I dispose of the cigars that have any non-white mold. (Rare)

(Step 4) I dispose of the cigars that have white mold that smells bad. (Rare)

 

Although I’m quite certain that “plume” is BS at this point. I’ve seen a pattern that may explain the appearance of plume. 

(1) It is rare, but (less than 1 out of every 15) jars grow mold that is dark in color. (In the past 5 years, all were from new boxes, shortly after purchase)

(2) Of the 11 jars that currently have “plume aka white mold”, 7 of those jars contain cigars that didn’t come with cellophane wrappers. 

(3) Of the 21 jars that currently do not have mold (yet), ALL of them have cellophane wrappers. (+2 jars for randoms in another cabinet)

 

I’ve removed myself as a source of mold to the best of my ability. However, I must open the jars to remove a cigar to smoke, and to replace humidipaks.  Excluding cigars that were pre-humidipaks and pre-quarantine, I’ve only found dark mold on cigars shortly after purchaseI think it’s likely that I (or someone) contaminated most cigars that lack cellophane. Also, I think the white mold that grows under the cellophane is present before purchase. Mold could be common or unavoidable when aging cigars.  HOWEVER, even a cigar shop that does well to wipe mold from visible inventory can’t expect to find all of it. This is, I think, the real issue here. Some mold is possibly bad. Some mold is possibly harmless. Is it true that white mold will grow on roughly 17% cigars, even when stored optimally? Is that an acceptable loss to a cigar store’s bottom line? Regardless, plume is probably mold but we’re still unsure, after nearly 30 years with the World Wide Web. 

A5FC33F9-1BEC-4FF3-A714-4782CC903D65.png

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Just some additional information to not mix things up:

Contamination with mold is unavoidable: you don't have to touch cigars, the mold spurs are everywhere... in cuba, in nicaragua, in your jars everywhere.
You inhale mold spurs with every breath you take. Typically your imune system is capable of handling them, sometimes it fails (see aspergillosis).

Every coloured mold was white in the beginning. However, some mold does not change colour and stays white throughout the whole life cycle. But this type is rather rare.
For me this explains pretty well, why you see white mold more often than coloured mold: nobody waits for the white mold to turn green.
You'd wipe the mold off before that happens.

I've made some pictures of this "colour-change":

IMG_3651PScrop.jpg

IMG_3658PScrop.jpg

 

example above: Those white pinheads somehow "pop open" and change their colour from white to green after some time, but only if the conditions are right.
They can also stay white for a prolonged amount of time.

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Noting that the specimens in the second batch were determined to be mostly Bacterial growth. That is troubling, especially considering one person who mentioned in this topic he witnessed rollers sneezing on the cigars. In November 2015, I got terribly sick which brought me to hospitalization in ICU in December 2015. It was determined I had mycoplasma infection in the lungs. There are 2 outcomes: Death or recovery. The reason is that in order to determine WHAT infection you have so it can be treated, can require more than 2 weeks of lab testing. Either you are young and have the constitution to recover from the infection or you're too young or too old to survive it. After it was diagnosed, I completed a regimen of antibiotics that cleaned the rest of it out. But the mystery was: Where did I get it? Doctor seemed to think I would have had to breathe in the mycoplasma in order to be infected. Was a cigar I smoked 'infected' with it? Who knows? But mycoplasma is a tough cookie because it is unlike most bacteria: It has no cell wall, hence why antibiotics don't work or at least your typical ones. I would be very careful to smoke any cigar that had molds, fungi, or other unidentifiable crud on it. My lungs are scarred (interstitial tissue scarring) for the rest of my shortened life due to this issue. Guys, it is simply not worth your health. If you don't know conclusively what it is, TOSS IT!

"Mycoplasma are a mollicute genus of bacteria that lack a cell wall around their cell membranes. This characteristic, makes them naturally resistant to many common antibiotics such as penicillin or other beta-lactam antibiotics that target cell wall synthesis. They can be parasitic or saprotrophic."

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One of my favorite things to do is go into cigar shops, note any mold, and after I'm inevitably told about plume/bloom/ploom, I offer to buy the cigar if the shopkeeper is willing to lick it off.  Nobody has taken me up on it so far.

I've always assumed all of it is mold.  I've seen some older cigars with a "dust" all over them which may be bloom, but it seems it's still mold according to this thread.  Which is all fine, really, I prefer clean cigars anyway.

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11 hours ago, MD Puffer said:

Mycoplasmal pneumonia, aka "walking pneumonia" is a very common community acquired pneumonia.  M. pneumoniae is highly fastidious- that's why it took the lab 2 weeks to culture.  Cigars/tobacco are not a a feasible substrate for it to grow upon, let alone survive.  

The most likely and reasonable explanation is someone in your vicinity had it, coughed, and you breathed in the same air.  Your attending physician ordered lab testing because you had to be stabilized in the ICU, apparently were not responding to antibiotic treatment, and needed to show he ordered all reasonable tests in case you died and someone sued him.  Your vitals had to have been in the crapper or at least trending there for them to have put you in the ICU, unless you're really old or immunocompromised and you were admitted there as a precautionary measure (but seriously, even then you would have been admitted to a gen med ward if you were otherwise stable).

Most people survive these infections without any treatment because the symptoms are frequently mild and easily mistaken for seasonal allergies.  The absence of a cell wall just makes them resistant to a few classes of antibiotics but they're highly susceptible to a wide range of other and they don't show the prevalence of antibiotic resistance seen with other bacteria (most likely owing to their longer generation times).  So it's not like there's a paucity of antibiotic treatment available.  A ten dollar Z-pack typically suffices in most cases.  Cultures are almost never obtained and the treatment is almost always empirical.  

If you were my patient in residency, I would have presented your case in grand rounds because almost everybody who gets walking pneumonia either is satisfactorily treated with common antibiotics or just weathers the storm.  Also, you don't have interstitial lung disease from a mycoplasmal infection.  Mycoplasma is no tough cookie- it's easily treated (most often). 

Since I have some time to kill, I will digress.

What other bacterial pathogens might be lurking about on your CCs?

Staph.  It's in everyone's noses.  These guys are breathing dust all day, and smoke, and sneezing (as above).  Someone's gonna pick their nose then roll a piramide.  I bet you staph could be easily cultured from a cigar.  Threat?  Realistically?  Next to nil.  Staph is on everyone.  It's already in your nose and oropharynx.  Good survival rate outside of the host.  But unless your immunocompromised I don't see it infecting a cigar smoker- it's not like Cuban staph is more pathogenic than American staph.  

E. Coli (and other  coliforms).  Hah.  Nasty.  Someone didn't wash their hands after their government sanctioned potty break.  And you wondered why that HDM Ep 1 looked like a maduro wrapper.  Tsk tsk.  Threat?  Realistically?  Next to nil.  It doesn't have as great a survival rate outside their host for one.  This fact makes one wonder how much crap exactly is on one's Romaine lettuce.  The answer is not enough because Caesar salad is fucking delicious and I'm going to continue to eat it.  Plus, it's also already in your gut and you'd need to ingest a minimum inoculum for infection with one of the strains that are known to be pathogenic.  Hypothetically, it could be the opposite.  You could be sick with "bad" E. coli and ingesting good coliforms from your torcedor.  Sort of a de facto fecal transplant.  Yeah, those are real.  When I was an intern my chief and attending were talking about a patient with C. diff who was crumping.  The former proposed a fecal transplant.  Despite both of them trying to convince me that they weren't pulling my leg I refused to believe it until I read some journal articles on it.  True story.  I shit you not.  

Honorable mention:  Tuberculosis.  Now this guy is a tough cookie.  You see, outside of his cell wall he makes a waxy-like coating which makes it difficult to ID under a microscope, difficult to culture, and difficult to get the antibiotics across this hydrophobic waxy coating.  Given that we're talking about a 3rd world country, sneezing/coughing on cigars which would act as fomites that we later stick in our mouths and draw smoke through, one might think this is possible.  Yeah, it's possible.  It's also possible OJ didn't kill his wife.  Apparently, Cuba has TB under control.  But if they didn't, and TB was a problem there, then that'd be the one that concerned me.  It's wax-like coating lends to long survival rates outside the host and the minimum inoculum to infect is 1 or 2 cells (ie highly infectious).

I don't know if the phenomena of crystallized oils on the surface of wrappers (aka plume) exists.  I know something similar does exist on potent strains of marijuana.  But different.  It's really more of a dessicated oozing of sap (which can be collected into little sticky balls of hasish).  What I find odd is that no one has ever published any photo of a cigar wrapper with what is called plume and shown it to be anything other than mycelium.  Forget electron microscopy- just an old school light microscopy photo of some crystals.  I have never seen a photo of such but I have heard countless people swear by its existance.

I'm not not sickly, not immunocompromised, and I have no pulmonary diseases.  So if I find a little white mold on a cigar, I personally imagine it to be something akin to a secondary or tertiary fermentation.  If it's extensive I'm going to wipe it off, and if it's hardly noticeable I probably wouldn't risk damaging the wrapper or wasting my time and just smoke it up.  Why?  I can't find any documented cases of pulmonary fungal infections thought to be caused by smoking cigars.  How many hundreds of millions of cigars a made and smoked each year?  And not one case of a pulmonary fungal infection from a tainted cigar?  They are all covered with fungal spores or mycelium.  A big factor is we don't inhale this smoke, at least directly. 

Now, Aspergillus can be blue and/or green.  There are also documented cases of aspergillosis from marijuana (unique epidemic in some po dunk town).  But you inhale that smoke (though not everyone apparently).  So, if I ever saw something blue or green growning on a cigar I'd probably not smoke it. 

There's an interesting irony here.  Some people who are smoking cigars are worried about their health by smoking cigars which have an advanced degree of growth of an ubiquitous fungus.  I think most likely plume is the white rind of brie to cigars.

 

I really am starting to regret reading this. Very informative. Thank you....I think lol. 

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Lots of interesting info. I have some pipe tobacco somewhere in my stash that has a crystalline appearance to the naked eye. Is that something you guys would like to test? 

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