Killing Bad Cigar Breath
Kyle writes: What is the best way to eliminate the lingering cigar/pipe taste after a night of smoking? Even when I give a thorough brushing and mouthwash rinse, I find I still wake up with the taste of the cigar or pipe from the night before. Is there something I should be doing immediately after smoking, or is the fact that I don’t “enjoy” the lingering taste a sign that maybe smoking is not for me?
Let me begin by saying that if the post-cigar taste in your mouth is truly bad or revolting, it most likely has to do with what or how you are smoking. There are two things to consider here. Firstly, the quality of the cigar does matter, as does its age. If you’ve ever smoked a really young Cuban (or any cigar for that matter) you’ll know the ammonia and bitter flavors you’ll get. Unfortunately, these bad flavors will stay on your palate for days after enjoying (or not enjoying) the cigar. Hence I always say quality over quantity when it comes to cigars. Not only will your smoking time be more enjoyable, but so will the hours to follow. To give some context, I recently enjoyed a well-aged Le Hoyo Du Maire (box date 2001), and despite its small size, it gave a nice 30 minute smoke. An hour later, all that remained on the palate was a gentle sweetness and some earthiness — very pleasant. By the next morning, only the slightest hint remained, and what I could still taste was very pleasant. In contrast, I have occasionally had a cheap cigar that left my palate battered and bruised with bitter and strong flavors staying with me for days.
The second thing to consider is how you’re smoking. If you’re smoking a toro in 40 minutes, you really need to slow down. For cigarette smokers, it can be hard to learn to slow down, but smoke a cigar too fast and you’ll unleash all sort of bitter tars and oils which are not pleasant on the palate at that point nor hours later. Next time you smoke, try keeping the cigar as cool as possible, using an ashtray to let the cigar rest between puffs. Not only will you prevent any bitterness, but your mouth will take much less abuse, and therefore recover much quicker.
OK, so you’ve tried the above, and are smoking quality cigars slow and cool. Chances are any lingering flavors will be enjoyable, but if you need to get rid of them for any reason (a hot date, for instance), there are a few tricks that really do work. But first, the things that don’t work: gum and mints just mask the flavors, and as a result you’ll smell like minty smoke. Mmm, there’s nothing quite like smelling like grandma’s menthol cigarettes… Most mouth washes also won’t cut it (see exceptions below). I’ve tried Listerine, Crest, and others, and none have any real effect on the lingering cigar taste. I should add here that some people recommend concoctions containing shampoo, but I refuse to put shampoo in my mouth, particularly when there really are some great solutions, as you’ll see now.
Before I get to any artificial remedies, let’s start with the natural ones. Chlorophyl is a natural breath cleanser; as such, chewing on some parsley will have very positive effects on your breath as well as on how your mouth feels. Citrus also helps — drinking limeade or other citrusy drinks will help kill any lingering flavors. In general, the keys in killing the taste are time and food. If you’re smoking your cigars at night accompanied by booze in plenty, then waking up with pasty cigar mouth is to be expected. However, smoke before dinner, drink lots of water (or other non-alcoholic beverage), and the flavours will diminish and pass very quickly. I find in particular both coffee and whisky work to kill tobacco flavors. However, the influence and ability of water to carry any residual toxins from your body can not be understated.
Lastly, if none of the above work, there are some products out there which truly work. The first are mouth washes targeted at smokers. While Targon is probably the most famous, I know many cigar smokers have had much better luck with Smart Mouth. In fact, there’s a large thread over at Cigar Asylum extolling its virtues, and is in my opinion the best product out there. You can find it on Amazon, or at your nearest drug store. Altadis also makes a product called Cigar Clear, which you can find at most tobacconists. While a common approach is to brush your teeth thoroughly, remember that it is your tongue, cheeks, gums, etc. that contain most of the surface area in your mouth, as such be sure to brush them as well.
In a concise summary,
1) Smoke quality cigars. Smoke them slowly.
2) Eat and drink something afterward.
3) Use some Smart Mouth mouthwash.
All that said, as you smoke more, you’ll find you enjoy the lingering flavors more and more, and notice any negatives less and less. And of course, don’t forget the easiest way to get rid of stale cigar breath: smoke a new, fresh cigar!