What can you read from the colour of ash?


Colour of ash  

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One for the forum. 

I have replied to him linking to this thread :thumbsup:

"Hey Rob.

I was smoking a tainos at the lounge and was taken aback when the friend I was with pointed out that the Tainos had an almost white ash. He said that it was likely fake as white ash is a sign of magnesium in the soil and cubans don't fertilize. My friend is a good person but perhaps not a mensa candidate. When you have a moment in your busy day can you give me your thoughts experience?"

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So, I’ve tended to see this on older cigars. I’ve assumed it was a sign of more complete combustion. I’ve always associated dark ash with oily, younger, dark cigars. But someone picked me up on this a while ago and said: no no, it’s magnesium. So, is there any association with age?

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34 minutes ago, Bri Fi said:

This was one of the lighter colored ashes I’ve had and it was from a monte esp 2.

Yep, had the same with a 2020 Especial No. 2 recently.

Have seen it on a few other various sticks over the years.  It's rare, but it can happen with Cubans.

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Agree with the magnesium.  Though lack of fertilizer is not the issue I believe.  Non-cubans are just grown in areas where their soil has more magnesium naturally.  So more often non-cubans burn more white.   But from time to time I have white ash.  But 95% of the time I get the darker non-magnesium cuban ash.

Also, I have seen no relation to darker ash and oily cigars.  Besides, the oil is mostly from the outside.  That would mean only the outside would burn darker.  The inside ash would be lighter?  That doesn't make sense to me.

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According to the report:

A factor that influences the quality of the cigars is the smoke combustion process, which depends on several factors, particularly the composition of the leaves. We present a simple and quick technique for the quality control and origin identification of handmade cigars that measures the Mg/Ca ratios in the tobacco leaves and wrappers of the cigars using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy.

Download the pdf report for free

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282775215_Laser-Induced_Breakdown_Spectroscopy_LIBS_Quality_Control_and_Origin_Identification_of_Handmade_Manufactured_Cigars

Picture1.png

edit: so yes there seems to be Mg/Ca in CC as well, which is not unexpected, but who knows where the chemicals are from? soil or other explanation.

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6 hours ago, Cigar Surgeon said:

And it's been my observation that Habanos tend to have bright white ashes consistently.

Really? I find NCs are much more consistently white while CCs are much more likely to be dark, and when white less white than NCs. 

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13 hours ago, RDB said:

So, I’ve tended to see this on older cigars. I’ve assumed it was a sign of more complete combustion. I’ve always associated dark ash with oily, younger, dark cigars. But someone picked me up on this a while ago and said: no no, it’s magnesium. So, is there any association with age?

I’ve noticed this as well- 99% of my cigars that I smoke young have dark ash, and the older boxes are far whiter. 

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1 hour ago, Bigpink said:

I’ve noticed this as well- 99% of my cigars that I smoke young have dark ash, and the older boxes are far whiter. 

I've noticed this too but think it's related to humidity. I doubt age really impacts the chemistry of what is inside the leaf after fermentation is over, but it helps the cigar dry out more evenly. Smoking I'm Costa Rica last week I had all dark ashes. First stick back home was white, but pulled from my colorado humidor at 60 percent RH, and substantially rested at that. 

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4 hours ago, Ryan said:

All green plants contain magnesium. They have to, magnesium is in chlorophyll.

Magnesium in elemental form burns brightly and leaves a white powder (Magnesium Oxide), but elemental magnesium does not exist in nature, it's too reactive.

A whiter ash is not due to magnesium. Whiter/darker ashes are most likely due to different combustion temperatures and rates. 

Of course all plants have magnesium.  That isn't the question.  It is the level that impacts it.   Combustion temp rate doesn't seem to be the reason.  I smoke the same rate regardless of the source.  Yet 95% of the time my cubans are dark, and my non cubans are white 95% of the time.                                              

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10 hours ago, NSXCIGAR said:

Really? I find NCs are much more consistently white while CCs are much more likely to be dark, and when white less white than NCs. 

Really really. When I do cigar reviews one of the things I do is comment under the burn section regarding the ash; things like the ash color and whether it held on well. Most NCs have a gray ash. Almost every CC I've ever smoked has a bright white ash. 

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19 hours ago, Cigar Surgeon said:

Calcium. And it's been my observation that Habanos tend to have bright white ashes consistently. 

That’s interesting, I’ve always found that Cubans ash is much more gnarled white and black vs a Nicaraguan/Padron that tend to be much whiter and flakier.

 

12 hours ago, NSXCIGAR said:

Really? I find NCs are much more consistently white while CCs are much more likely to be dark, and when white less white than NCs. 

Yeah 100%

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1 hour ago, Cigar Surgeon said:

Really really. When I do cigar reviews one of the things I do is comment under the burn section regarding the ash; things like the ash color and whether it held on well. Most NCs have a gray ash. Almost every CC I've ever smoked has a bright white ash. 

Sounds like describing ash color is subjective like describing the taste of cigars. I find almost all my Cuban cigar ash tends to be gray/black while the majority of non-Cuban tobacco cigar ash tends to be whitish in color. Some Cuban cigar ash tends to be flaky and some tends to have a neat quarter stacking appearance that holds on until you tap the cigar.

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is this more folklore like the plume vs mold debate?  I just want to enjoy the cigars!!  read this thread during lunch break and now can't get it out my head.

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8 hours ago, JohnnyO said:
They do use fertilizers. In one of Prieto's older videos he states that in the off season they grow white beans and grind up the plant into the ground. John

That would be green manure though. Beans (legumes) are commonly used for nitrogen fixation through their ability to grow together with certain soil bacteria.
Long story short, this process adds nitrogen to the following crop, and reduces the potential losses of other nutrient elements when compared to bare soil by fixing them in plant tissue rather than being removed by erodation and/or other water transport.

Aka, this has nothing to do with Magnesium availability during the crop cycle.

 

19 hours ago, Monterey said:
Agree with the magnesium.  Though lack of fertilizer is not the issue I believe.  Non-cubans are just grown in areas where their soil has more magnesium naturally.  So more often non-cubans burn more white.   But from time to time I have white ash.  But 95% of the time I get the darker non-magnesium cuban ash.
Also, I have seen no relation to darker ash and oily cigars.  Besides, the oil is mostly from the outside.  That would mean only the outside would burn darker.  The inside ash would be lighter?  That doesn't make sense to me.

I'm not here to debate whether the Magnesium idea is correct. Just wondering if anyone (consumer) has compared soil sample nutrient composition analysis tables of enough tobacco fields to actually state that. Considering how scarce information around Cuban tobacco production is, I will continue to doubt this kind of statement.
Still not saying its impossible though, I just find it curious.

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