FOH Mould Study


Ferrero
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The idea behind the mould study was to shed some light into the world of mould and plume.   Earlier in the year we asked for examples of both from members and then selected 10 representative ciga

Time to update the FOH definition: PLUME/PLOOM/BLOOM noun  plüm / blüm What people think are the crystalized remnants of oils left on a cigar wrapper.... but really it's just mold.

I can see the next trend: Hey guys do you think it's Candida Parapsilosis or Aspergillus? Dude, that's Penicillium ascomycetous! You're joking that's obviously Wallemia sebi!

So basically plume/ploom/bloom is exactly what we thought - a tasteless, harmless substance that forms in moisture rich environments high in salts/sugars, both which are naturally occurring in cigar tobacco. 

Awesome information and great work. Looking forward to the continuing quest for the mysterious crystalline substance that isn't fungi.

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3 hours ago, JamesKPolkEsq said:

Definitely mold

So please explain what he would/should he do with it.  Wipe it clean and smoke it?

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1 hour ago, Gerry Cooper said:

So please explain what he would/should he do with it.  Wipe it clean and smoke it?

In my humble opinion, I don't believe this represents a significant health risk. 

If you can wipe off the growth, the only thing really left is spores. Fungal spores are all over essentially everything, so in theory it shouldn't be much different than cigars that have never seen growth in the first place. 

If you see mold in the foot, it would be impossible to remove from the cigar. The growth of the mold itself can contain lots of nasty compounds. I would consider mold on the foot to be a deal breaker myself.

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1 hour ago, JamesKPolkEsq said:

In my humble opinion, I don't believe this represents a significant health risk. 

If you can wipe off the growth, the only thing really left is spores. Fungal spores are all over essentially everything, so in theory it shouldn't be much different than cigars that have never seen growth in the first place. 

If you see mold in the foot, it would be impossible to remove from the cigar. The growth of the mold itself can contain lots of nasty compounds. I would consider mold on the foot to be a deal breaker myself.

I completely agree.

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11 hours ago, Gerry Cooper said:
13 hours ago, JamesKPolkEsq said:

In my humble opinion, I don't believe this represents a significant health risk. 

If you can wipe off the growth, the only thing really left is spores. Fungal spores are all over essentially everything, so in theory it shouldn't be much different than cigars that have never seen growth in the first place. 

If you see mold in the foot, it would be impossible to remove from the cigar. The growth of the mold itself can contain lots of nasty compounds. I would consider mold on the foot to be a deal breaker myself.

I completely agree.

Completely disagree.

This is not the fluffy-funny kind of white "plumy" mould, here. This is a greenish, rotten stick, if you ask me. I can literally sense its musty smell... Perhaps I am wrong, judging from the pics. But anyway - and leaving any health issues aside - I wouldn't smoke it, as it had obviously been stored under poor conditions. Has had its days, long ago. The question really is - will it smoke nicely? Don't expect an enjoyable smoke here. If you really need to smoke such a stick you'ld better look for a cheaper hobby.

Do yourself a favour and take a sniff (after wiping it off using a moistened tissue). If it smells nice, you may try it - if it smells unpleasant mildewy - get rid of it.
 

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2 hours ago, Fugu said:

Completely disagree.

This is not the fluffy-funny kind of white "plumy" mould, here. This is a greenish, rotten stick, if you ask me. I can literally sense its musty smell... Perhaps I am wrong, judging from the pics. But anyway - and leaving any health issues aside - I wouldn't smoke it, as it had obviously been stored under poor conditions. Has had its days, long ago. The question really is - will it smoke nicely? Don't expect an enjoyable smoke here. If you really need to smoke such a stick you'ld better look for a cheaper hobby.

Do yourself a favour and take a sniff (after wiping it off using a moistened tissue). If it smells nice, you may try it - if it smells unpleasant mildewy - get rid of it.
 

It's actually white not green, probably the quality of the picture is not good. As for the smell it's not a rotten smell, it smells of tobacco. I have a whole box of those and it was the only one like this. It was on the corner of the box. Believe me I can afford discarding the whole box, but I believe if I wipe it off it will smoke OK. On the other hand, if I do and not hear from me again, it was the cigar! ?

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3 hours ago, Fugu said:

Completely disagree.

This is not the fluffy-funny kind of white "plumy" mould, here. This is a greenish, rotten stick, if you ask me. I can literally sense its musty smell... Perhaps I am wrong, judging from the pics. But anyway - and leaving any health issues aside - I wouldn't smoke it, as it had obviously been stored under poor conditions. Has had its days, long ago. The question really is - will it smoke nicely? Don't expect an enjoyable smoke here. If you really need to smoke such a stick you'ld better look for a cheaper hobby.

Do yourself a favour and take a sniff (after wiping it off using a moistened tissue). If it smells nice, you may try it - if it smells unpleasant mildewy - get rid of it.
 

Sounds like something my father told me.

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2 hours ago, goutsou said:

Believe me I can afford discarding the whole box, but I believe if I wipe it off it will smoke OK. On the other hand, if I do and not hear from me again, it was the cigar! ?

Ok, well - then have a go at it!  :D

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17 hours ago, Fugu said:

Completely disagree.

This is not the fluffy-funny kind of white "plumy" mould, here. This is a greenish, rotten stick, if you ask me. I can literally sense its musty smell... Perhaps I am wrong, judging from the pics. But anyway - and leaving any health issues aside - I wouldn't smoke it, as it had obviously been stored under poor conditions. Has had its days, long ago. The question really is - will it smoke nicely? Don't expect an enjoyable smoke here. If you really need to smoke such a stick you'ld better look for a cheaper hobby.

Do yourself a favour and take a sniff (after wiping it off using a moistened tissue). If it smells nice, you may try it - if it smells unpleasant mildewy - get rid of it.
 

If one has a problem with wiping mold off your cigars and smoking them, I can understand (and your cigars shouldn't really be getting moldy in the first place!).

Personally, I don't think it's that big a deal, if you can wipe it clean and it smells like you want to smoke it. If your cigar smells mildewy, definitely chuck that sucker.

My understanding is that you can't necessarily tell if a mold is toxic by its color. 

https://www.bioidea.net/resources/pathogenic-yeasts-candida-and-cryptococcus/ 

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I have always felt that plume/bloom/mould on cigars is generally mould, and not desirable in any way.  But I think there is more hope with pipe tobacco....

On 10/07/2017 at 10:22 PM, planetary said:

@Ferrero I can provide examples of well-aged (10, 15, 20 year-old) pipe tobacco with what look like crystals, if you would like.  It's long been suspected that these are neither mold nor sugar, but some other substance.  Not sure if that would be of interest in this study, since pipe tobacco is processed quite differently, but that community is quite curious, and has never done any testing, to my knowledge.

This!

On 10/07/2017 at 11:18 PM, Ferrero said:

You've got me very intrigued... If you are okay parting ways with a little pinch then we would love to get it tested.

I'll be fascinated to see the results of this.  Personally I think there is a good chance of finding sugar crystals.  Pipe tobacco often has sugar added during processing - even in brands that are marketed as being 'uncased' and 'untopped'.  For example, Escudo/Dunhill Navy Rolls has several added sugars, including prune juice and licorice extract, along with dextrin, glucose and fructose.  I agree that the plume/bloom/mould that appears on pipe tobacco is more often something that appears to reflect light as a crystal.

Isn't there a 'thing' about mould not being fluorescent under UV light?  Wouldn't that be a quicker way to check if something is mould or not? EDIT: Didn't mean for this to sound like we didn't need this experiment carried out - it's excellent that we're finally getting some concrete scientific data.  I just wondered if people at home could quickly check for mould using the UV method (if it actually works).

 

I'd love to see another test....blind testing of cigars that have, or have had, mould on them.  I've heard people say that one should just brush off the mould, and they will not notice any difference.  If you believe this, then you probably will not notice any difference.  If you believe/believed that the mould was beneficial, you will probably have an improved smoking experience. However, if you're like me, and believe that a mouldy cigar is not a good thing, then you'll probably taste mouldiness while you're smoking.  The point is, each of these could be our imagination, and it would be nice to see some solid tests around this!

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17 hours ago, JamesKPolkEsq said:

If one has a problem with wiping mold off your cigars and smoking them, I can understand (and your cigars shouldn't really be getting moldy in the first place!).

Personally, I don't think it's that big a deal, if you can wipe it clean and it smells like you want to smoke it. If your cigar smells mildewy, definitely chuck that sucker.

My understanding is that you can't necessarily tell if a mold is toxic by its color. 

https://www.bioidea.net/resources/pathogenic-yeasts-candida-and-cryptococcus/ 

Absolutely, and I completely agree with you in this respect, James. And - for the record - I too, have no issue whatsoever with the occasional light spot of pale, odourless mould. Every smoker does come across such every now and then, and it would simply be a waste of a good cigar tossing it. Frankly, I guess even the "best" of us - as regards storage diligence - have seen such on occasion in their own storage (with the only exception of Piggert @PigFishperhaps  :wink2:). Can occur even under the most perfected storage conditions, unless you store bone-dry. Which but then would come with different cons. So, cigar storage (long-term) is always a weighting and fine-tuning of different requirements, conditions and constraints. (And my best bet here is, that apart from absolute tissue moisture and stable storage conditions development or non-development of mould is also something to do with certain wrappers, their particular constituents and/or trace contaminations thereof, glue etc.).

What's a clear no-no for me, however, is cigars with signs of utter negligence - the occurrence of more than a few light blots of mould, leave alone a completely mouldy stick (like seen in the pic), or a mould that looks any different than whitish and fluffy "plumy". That's the very reason, by the way, I think originally - historically - the term "bloom" might have been nothing else but an euphemism for that latter kind of mould: A lighter, sometimes ephemeral mould that is hardly affecting the quality of a cigar to any measurable extent. But this always demands a differentiated consideration, and for me, there is a difference between mould and mould, i.e. in its extent and nature.

All that said, on principle I try to avoid any external "protuberances" or "secretions" developing on my cigars, be it mould, be it "plume". Count me among those who are of the strong opinion that plume is never a sign of careful storage, neither something to aim for or to desire in a "vintage" stick as a sort of quality token - hogwash I say. I do like my two-yr as well as my 20-yr old sticks look as pristine and fresh as possible.

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12 minutes ago, Fugu said:

Absolutely, and I completely agree with you in this respect, James. And - for the record - I too, have no issue whatsoever with the occasional light spot of pale, odourless mould. Every smoker does come across such every now and then, and it would simply be a waste of a good cigar tossing it. Frankly, I guess even the "best" of us - as regards storage diligence - have seen such on occasion in their own storage (with the only exception of Piggert @PigFishperhaps  :wink2:). Can occur even under the most perfected storage conditions, unless you store bone-dry. Which but then would come with different cons. So, cigar storage (long-term) is always a weighting and fine-tuning of different requirements, conditions and constraints. (And my best bet here is, that apart from absolute tissue moisture and stable storage conditions development or non-development of mould is also something to do with certain wrappers, their particular constituents and/or trace contaminations thereof, glue etc.).

What's a clear no-no for me, however, is cigars with signs of utter negligence - the occurrence of more than a few light blots of mould, leave alone a completely mouldy stick (like seen in the pic), or a mould that looks any different than whitish and fluffy "plumy". That's the very reason, by the way, I think originally - historically - the term "bloom" might have been nothing else but an euphemism for that latter kind of mould: A lighter, sometimes ephemeral mould that is hardly affecting the quality of a cigar to any measurable extent. But this always demands a differentiated consideration, and for me, there is a difference between mould and mould, i.e. in its extent and nature.

All that said, on principle I try to avoid any external "protuberances" or "secretions" developing on my cigars, be it mould, be it "plume". Count me among those who are of the strong opinion that plume is never a sign of careful storage, neither something to aim for or to desire in a "vintage" stick as a sort of quality token - hogwash I say. I do like my two-yr as well as my 20-yr old sticks look as pristine and fresh as possible.

Hear... hear!

The closest thing I see to growing on a cigar these days is the sawdust from a cab box... I have been in the 'disbeliever' camp on the plume argument for a long time now. I see the vendor/collector community (present company excluded) as a group that will say and do anything to promote selling a cigar. Making up 'shit' to make a negative a positive is well within the bounds of this group... (MHO).

I have been doing some 30 day studies on the affects of logic changes and inter-box cigar conditions and this is a log I pulled yesterday.

5973c52637673_JulyBoxClimateTest.thumb.png.b03e3495b74089b13f2d2b94eec63ee8.png

Avoiding fines is a matter of controlling climate. While 'desired conditions' are certainly debatable, stable conditions as malady is something I believe I have conquered. These conditions are within 1% of the set point... and typically far below that.

-Piggy

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8 minutes ago, PigFish said:

The closest thing I see to growing on a cigar these days is the sawdust from a cab box... I have been in the 'disbeliever' camp on the plume argument for a long time now. I see the vendor/collector community (present company excluded) as a group that will say and do anything to promote selling a cigar.

Just to be clear, Piggy - I am not at all and have never been discounting the possibility of a deposit of other "substances" (whatever it might be - perhaps Rob and crew will be able to shed a light on this) other than mould alone on a cigar, resp. its wrapper. But neither of both is a good sign to me.

 

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1 hour ago, Fugu said:

Just to be clear, Piggy - I am not at all and have never been discounting the possibility of a deposit of other "substances" (whatever it might be - perhaps Rob and crew will be able to shed a light on this) other than mould alone on a cigar, resp. its wrapper. But neither of both is a good sign to me.

 

I understand... you are open minded. Ultimately I too will step over this line with you, but I am not a believer. In other words, while I believe it can exist, I don't believe it does exist...!

I have qualifiers. One example of a crystalline substance on 'a' cigar does not define plume. It must be more common than that. If you want plume, I can snack on a snickerdoodle while perusing a particular cigar box and make you one. Sugar dropped on my cigar is not plume. It must be common enough to be found with a sound reason for its development. Therefore any and all crystals on cigar wrappers are not plume! As I have stated previously, it must be a 'recognized and recognizable' phenomena, or it is 'fluke!'

Plume can be a 'rare bird.' What it cannot be is an extinct bird, nor an illusionary bird!

As the vendor/collector community have largely dubbed this 'illusionary bird' beneficial, I see a profit motive for its existence. I find this disturbing and pointing toward what I consider a  case of fraud. As I see it, it is a fraud perpetrated on a moldy cigar to make it beyond a neutral event, and this is to make it desirable and therefore more profitable than an ordinary moldy cigar. I see this as the worst sort of fraud. Calling mold by another name to make it a 'non-event' is a fraud. Calling the non-event desirable is a crime!

The evidence thus far is in my mind is that plume is a manifestation of a fraud. I will continue to view it that way, not that anyone must agree with me, until someone has proven that it exists, and that it is more than a freakish occurrence.

I concur with your stance. If it does exist, I cannot see it as a 'good' thing, but I am far away from that position at this point.

Cheers! -R

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If that $250 offer is still on the table, maybe a member who participated in the last 24:24 would be up for helping the cause? I saw a couple beautiful lots that displayed what I normally would have called bloom/plume...but who knows now? 160, 169, 185 & 195 are some examples...

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6 hours ago, flatland3d said:

If that $250 offer is still on the table, maybe a member who participated in the last 24:24 would be up for helping the cause? I saw a couple beautiful lots that displayed what I normally would have called bloom/plume...but who knows now? 160, 169, 185 & 195 are some examples...

We have kept an eye for plume on our aged stock but on closer inspection nothing has made us prop and stop. 

On a positive note, we have some highly promising examples on their way to us now. I look forward to the testing. 

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I have wiped off the white substance and smoked my sample and I'm happy to say that I'm still alive and kicking! Joking aside though, after wiping it, I did not get any moldiness. What I got was, apart from the other flavours, mustiness /mushrooms, just like with many old cigars that I have smoked and didn't have any plume/mold. It neither hindered nor advanced the smoking experience... 

IMG_20170722_013333.jpg

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Just had a quick look through one of my humidors and I'm no scientist but here is my theory. A vast amount learnt from an old friend years ago.

Mould in any form has to be natural evolution as cigar leaf is rolled damp after drying somewhat, touched by many people etc and are also organic plant matter. Just like a piece of cabbage, for lack of a better term.

Throw a semi dried and after air hanging/drying (to remove moisture ala and eg tobacco barns) cabbage leaf rolled into a cigar shape into a stand alone humi for 10 days at say even 50rh max 60f temp and see what happens.

Now that is a rash example of course. Yet why mould on cigars?

Tobacco is simply a plant leaf after all. So I guess what I am saying is cigars will be naturally open to picking up foreign antibodies through being stored in thriving thermal environments (humidors) for bacteria and mostly  touched by bare hand.

I have a test box from over 12 years ago. The cigars were never touched by my hands (apart from one in another humi) and covered under cedar layers are blemish free. I never rotate in the humi.

My sharing humi, as mentioned above has what would have been called plume over most of the cigars other than the ones at the very bottom which are devoid of anything.

A guy I used to know was and is a highly successful archive document expert and said when offering him an aged cigar 'you use bare hands on your cigars? Your body is placing bacteria, acids and oils all over that specimen!'. It will be mould ridden or blemish in under five years if not sooner!'

I ran with his theory of sterility after he questioned why most of my cigars in the top layers of this humi had mould at the cap and then foot area in majority of ssmples.

Never thought of it that way.

Blew my mind.





 

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