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Mold vs Plume

kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
I'm not sure about all of you, but i am tired of seeing people online posting incorrect information on the difference between mold and plume on a cigar.

It happens all the time, even to people who are considered "knowledgeable"

I will leave the name of the blog out (as to not embarrass anyone that may be viewing), but there is a blog out there that posted this picture:
image

The words in the caption are close to correct. Plume on your cigars shows that your humidor is doing its job. (if you have plume) your cigars might be amazing. The big issue here is that the arrows are pointing to a big ol' spot of mold.

Too many people get this wrong. There is a ton of bad information out there. There are also so few cases of actual plume, and so many people that wish they had it, that there is excitement driven by hope any time any bit of white shows up.

The best way you can properly identify both plume and mold is to become very familiar with both.

Lets start with mold.

Mold can be blue, gray, yellow, green, and (most commonly confused with plume) white. There are rumors out there that mold cannot be white. But this is 100% wrong.

Mold is alive. It tends to start in one spot and branches out from there. The very small stalks grow up or out and have spores on the end that will spread from there. Often times mold will look like webbing, or fuzz, or if you break out the magnifying glass, little tiny Dr. Seuss trees:
image

here is a great example of this within the foot of a cigar:

image

Because of how it grows and expands, it will be splotchy and uneven. It will also look three dimensional.

Mold, when on the wrapper, will look like it is on top of the wrapper not like it is part of it.

Lets get a few examples of mold and what gives it away as mold

in the following picture, even though the white covers the entire cigar it is splotchy and spotty. This is not plume because plume is evenly distributed.
image

In the next picture there is a good example of the spotty nature of mold on the top cigar and a good example of the fuzzy or web-like structure of mold on the bottom cigar:
image

This next picture is an example of how mold can spread from one cigar to another and aslo how it spreads on one cigar. If you look at the spots you can see that it looks more solid white in the center than on the edges of the splotches.
image

this next picture is a difficult one. Because of the relative uniformity of the white, some might say that it is plume. However if you look close you can see that there is structure to it. There is a webbing and it appears to be on top of the wrapper. This is mold.
image


Plume is the oils within a cigar surfacing and crystallizing. Oils tend to do this in a uniform fashion. Since it is a crystal and it is uniform over the entire wrapper it will uniformly sparkle gently. Think of it this way, when it is very cold out and it has snowed when you look out into a field that is lit by the moon, the snow will sparkle uniformly. This concept is what a cigar with plume will look like under light. Of course it wont be as intense and it will be tobacco colored but it will have a sparkle to it. In lower light it will look more like a haze or dust. The dust will actually look like it is part of the cigar's wrapper, not like it is sitting on top of it.

The following is a close up picture of plume on a cigar, notice the sparkle and lack of 3D structure:
image

this next picture is taken under lower light. The haze is uniform over the entire cigar:
image

this next picture shows plume in its most common form. It is uniform and very light. It is almost unnoticeable.
image

please please please, learn the difference between mold and plume before you post pictures and say how awesome your cigar is because its covered in awesome plume when your cigar looks like this:
image


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Comments

  • macs-smokesmacs-smokes Posts: 587
    Okay Pun is intended here... that Mold is Plume outa this world... bad joke over thank you for the valuable information. While I would be suspect of anything growing in my house... Kids included... having a reference picture to look at will be helpful
  • Roberto99Roberto99 Posts: 1,077
    Great info as always kuzi. I'm guessing it may vary some based on the cigar but how long does it take for Plume to be noticeable on a cigar?
  • MartelMartel Somewhere in PAPosts: 3,304 ✭✭✭✭
    Thanks, Kuz. Very illustrative pics. I guess I'm conservative in these things and would more likely see mold when it isn't there than plume when it is.
    Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

    I like Oliva and Quesada (including Regius) a lot.  I will smoke anything, though.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    I agree 1 million percent Kuzi... It amazes me honestly... Plume is rare, and like you said barely visible. I ha e a few old upmann's that has the beginnings and it's very hard to notice. I'll try and get some pics, I used them to train the guys at the B&M.
  • Sweetleaf69Sweetleaf69 Posts: 43
    Thanks for the lesson Kuzi. Really interesting. I have seen mold on cigars before, but never plume. Even the name is odd. In nature, on fruits, leaves or fungi and what not, they would probably call that a "bloom". Kinda like that light colored dusty look you get on blueberries, that is easily wiped away or becomes dislodged when touched. I suppose that may be common knowledge, though.. How long does it take to generate plume?
  • Big T smokesBig T smokes Posts: 211
    Sweetleaf69:
    How long does it take to generate plume?
    From what I understand it's not an exact science. It would depend on your humi, the conditions it's stored in, and of course the cigar. The more oily the tobacco the more chances you'll see plume once it's aged I would assume. Plume is kinda rare though. I don't see it too often and I've never had visible plume on any cigars I own, but my humi is only about two years old.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    Sweetleaf69:
    Thanks for the lesson Kuzi. Really interesting. I have seen mold on cigars before, but never plume. Even the name is odd. In nature, on fruits, leaves or fungi and what not, they would probably call that a "bloom". Kinda like that light colored dusty look you get on blueberries, that is easily wiped away or becomes dislodged when touched. I suppose that may be common knowledge, though..
    two things

    1) in the cigar world "plume" and "bloom" are the same thing. i just prefer the word "plume"
    B) i prefer "plume" because on a cigar "plume" is oils that have crystallized. on a grape or blueberry that white powder that you can wipe of is actually a wild uncultured form of brewers yeast. there are very different things so i like to differentiate.
    Big T smokes:
    Sweetleaf69:
    How long does it take to generate plume?
    From what I understand it's not an exact science. It would depend on your humi, the conditions it's stored in, and of course the cigar. The more oily the tobacco the more chances you'll see plume once it's aged I would assume. Plume is kinda rare though. I don't see it too often and I've never had visible plume on any cigars I own, but my humi is only about two years old.
    ive seen it on cigars that are 4 years old. but that doesnt mean that it wont be developing before then or take much longer. thats just the shortest i have seen it.
    of course i have ever only seen it on 4 cigars ever.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    It should also be noted that at times you will see a dust on cigars in the B&M's that can be wiped off, that may look like plume, and is not mold. This is from mineral deposits in the water if they are not using distilled water for the large humidifiers, and you will see it on uncello'ed cigars obviously.


    Another myth or misunderstanding I'd love to hear your opinion on... I hear all the time, plume can be wiped off, mold cannot... Well, I'd agree that green/blue mold stains the wrapper, but the white splotchy mold you see in those pictures comes right off and I believe this is what that myth is confused with. I've only had some vintage upmann's I bought, and a couple old LGC's I found have plume, and it's not something that wipes off. Its almost like a film of sorts, and it's part of the wrapper or in the wrapper in a way. It's much easier to see in flash pictures as well or in the light to the naked eye. Lcpeel/Isaac had some great examples a while back.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    mold and plume can both be wied off and not wiped off. that is not an indicator of one or the other.
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    Interesting, I've never seen plume that can be wiped off. The times i have experienced it, it is embedded in the wrapper, sort of like a film or caked on at times, others like crystals inside the wrapper.
  • jeep edsonjeep edson Posts: 826
    one of my cohiba maduros came with a single spot it. it wiped off so i knew it was mold. so i smoked that joker and never put it in the humi. all the rest have no signs of mold and i have been checking alot in the last 4 months. suxs it came with some mold on it but what can you do.
  • beatnicbeatnic Posts: 4,133
    Good plumin job, Kuzi.
  • Sweetleaf69Sweetleaf69 Posts: 43
    kuzi16:
    two things

    1) in the cigar world "plume" and "bloom" are the same thing. i just prefer the word "plume"
    B) i prefer "plume" because on a cigar "plume" is oils that have crystallized. on a grape or blueberry that white powder that you can wipe of is actually a wild uncultured form of brewers yeast. there are very different things so i like to differentiate.
    Noted, and thoroughly adopted ;)
  • RhamlinRhamlin WVPosts: 7,445 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Be aware of B&M's that try to pass off mold as plume because they are out there. You won't come across plume in a B&M unless its actually in the business of vintage cigars.
  • blurrblurr Posts: 962 ✭✭
    Jeep they should be fine. Just keep an eye on them, and as long as you keep your humi in a 65 or so rh level they likely won't break out in mold. I had a batch of cubans come in like that, with a few small spots. Rather than ship them I keep them in their own box at 66 rh and they are fine still after 8 months.
  • prosspross Posts: 874 ✭✭✭
    Dammit, all along I thought my basement has plume.
  • danielzreyesdanielzreyes Posts: 8,697 ✭✭✭✭✭
    catfishbluezz:
    It should also be noted that at times you will see a dust on cigars in the B&M's that can be wiped off, that may look like plume, and is not mold. This is from mineral deposits in the water if they are not using distilled water for the large humidifiers, and you will see it on uncello'ed cigars obviously.


    Another myth or misunderstanding I'd love to hear your opinion on... I hear all the time, plume can be wiped off, mold cannot... Well, I'd agree that green/blue mold stains the wrapper, but the white splotchy mold you see in those pictures comes right off and I believe this is what that myth is confused with. I've only had some vintage upmann's I bought, and a couple old LGC's I found have plume, and it's not something that wipes off. Its almost like a film of sorts, and it's part of the wrapper or in the wrapper in a way. It's much easier to see in flash pictures as well or in the light to the naked eye. Lcpeel/Isaac had some great examples a while back.
    This pic is exactly what you're talking about D. The crystallization can barely be seen with the naked eye. But when you take a pic with flash, this is the result. Also on this particular cigar, it's not wiping off.
    photo 29E4DB11-orig.jpg
    "It's plume, bro. Nothing to worry about. Got any Opus?" The suppose to be DZR
  • phobicsquirrelphobicsquirrel Posts: 7,349
    danielzreyes:
    catfishbluezz:
    It should also be noted that at times you will see a dust on cigars in the B&M's that can be wiped off, that may look like plume, and is not mold. This is from mineral deposits in the water if they are not using distilled water for the large humidifiers, and you will see it on uncello'ed cigars obviously.


    Another myth or misunderstanding I'd love to hear your opinion on... I hear all the time, plume can be wiped off, mold cannot... Well, I'd agree that green/blue mold stains the wrapper, but the white splotchy mold you see in those pictures comes right off and I believe this is what that myth is confused with. I've only had some vintage upmann's I bought, and a couple old LGC's I found have plume, and it's not something that wipes off. Its almost like a film of sorts, and it's part of the wrapper or in the wrapper in a way. It's much easier to see in flash pictures as well or in the light to the naked eye. Lcpeel/Isaac had some great examples a while back.
    This pic is exactly what you're talking about D. The crystallization can barely be seen with the naked eye. But when you take a pic with flash, this is the result. Also on this particular cigar, it's not wiping off.
    photo 29E4DB11-orig.jpg
    ::cough::: I'll take that moldy cigar off your hands ;-)
  • catfishbluezzcatfishbluezz Posts: 7,001
    That's it Daniel. The upmann's I have from 2005 look like that. I gave away the ones with the most plume to my buddies so they would have an example. In my experience, it either looks like that, or you will see the sharp crystals in the wrapper that shine in light when you rotate the cigar like the pic Kuzi posted.
  • insomnniapbinsomnniapb Posts: 590
    Nice thread as always this place delivers quality info!
  • ehehatehehat Posts: 1,536 ✭✭
    I saw a stick at a B&M that one if the workers tried to tell me was plume but it was clearly mold. I love this last pic because it shows how light plume really is. I just got a box of 8 year old ISOM's that had nothing to the naked eye but when I took a pic with flash it shone like crazy. This is some great info.
  • jj20030jj20030 galveston islandPosts: 5,776 ✭✭✭✭✭
    well, took out a opus x with cedar sleeve and in cello, would you guys smoke it ?

    image

    image
  • Poopy_JonesPoopy_Jones Posts: 447 ✭✭✭
    Great info. Thank you for taking the time and providing great pics. Fortunately I have an eye for finding fine crystals on other types of leaves. P. Jones
  • The_KidThe_Kid Posts: 7,871 ✭✭✭
    yes, btw how was it?
  • jj20030jj20030 galveston islandPosts: 5,776 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The Kid:
    yes, btw how was it?
    went with a dpg jj maduro lancero instead, threw it in the trash cause the fuentes in cedar sleeve are bad for doing it, havent decided to smoke it or not yet,lol
  • The_KidThe_Kid Posts: 7,871 ✭✭✭
    jj20030:
    The Kid:
    yes, btw how was it?
    went with a dpg jj maduro lancero instead, threw it in the trash cause the fuentes in cedar sleeve are bad for doing it, havent decided to smoke it or not yet,lol
    Yea took my sleeves off my fuentes a while ago,, only one was lightly affected.
  • jj20030jj20030 galveston islandPosts: 5,776 ✭✭✭✭✭
    yea, i removed all mine but musta skipped this one,lol
  • Gray4linesGray4lines KentuckyPosts: 4,503 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Catfish. great point about the mineral deposits. I had never though about that before!

    This info is from Cigar Aficionado: "Physical appearance aside, the easiest way to determine what's growing on your cigars is to apply the "rub test." Using your finger, try to rub the material off. If it flakes off it's plume, if it doesn't it's mold. And if it's plume, rub the rest off your cigar, light up and enjoy."

    I don't think this is too sound of advice... as mentioned above mold CAN BE rubbed off (Although I do not know if plume will "flake" off differently). And why the hell would you rub all of it (the plume) off before smoking?? Sounds like they're just asking for a damaged wrapper.

    Thanks for the concise thread, Kuzi. It's always good to re-read this info. I am sometimes amazed at what gets mistaken for plume, i.e. the dr. seuss trees (Lol!). However, I'm sure there is confusion for a reason... I have never seen a moldy cigar that I would say could pass for plume, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

    I would say, if you run into a cigar (either in a B&M or the bottom of your humidor) that you cannot tell mold Vs. plume, use context clues!! If the humidor feels too humid or the cigar is in a damp corner, I'd bet mold. Have the cigars been in a secluded, undisturbed location? or do they get handled and shuffled frequently? Moving them around sure will not help plume form.
    LLA - Lancero Lovers of America
  • Rob1110Rob1110 Posts: 1,455 ✭✭
    Nice post, Kuz. I've given up on this argument because everybody loves to disagree, nobody wants to admit their cigars might have some mold and everyone is hoping for plume as if it's going to make a bad cigar suddenly taste wonderful. Fact is, most people wouldn't notice if they did smoke a cigar with plume, nor would they notice a light infection of mold. White mold is harmless (this isn't to say you want it everywhere - just not a huge concern) - stay away from green or black mold. Those can be pretty nasty.

    It's even more frustrating when you walk into a shop, see moldy cigars and point it out to the owner, thinking you're being helpful only to have them say: "no, that's plume. It means they're well aged." No, it's mold, and it means you may be over humidifying your sticks or have poor air circulation. It also means it's probably going to spread...soon.
  • madurofanmadurofan Posts: 6,152
    Kuz that is great info as always!

    I will add that just because your cigar has a few spots of mold doesn't mean you should throw it away. Wipe it off and if you're the cautious type, seperate it from the rest of your cigars. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the B.S. that if you see a spot of mold on the outside of your cigar the inside is full of it. Next time you were going to throw away a cigar bc of mold just take it and cut it open and inspect it.

    Anyone who has kept cigars for long periods of time has had mold. If I threw away every cigar I had that one little spot of mold showed up on I'd have been out hundreds of dollars of cigars. That being said if it was covered completely I would chuck it. but a couple of spots. Just put your big girl panties on ...
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