Around 100 million people worldwide smoke cigars regularly. The type of cigars range from dirt cheap cigarillos to premium cigars that cost more than the average rent. While there’s a lot that goes into the process of buying and smoking cigars, not many appreciate how they’re made.
That said, there is a community of cigar enthusiasts that love to roll their own handmade stogies. Here at Cigar Amigo, we’ve taken the time to explore the cigar rolling process to make it easier to understand for our readers.
In this post, we’ll teach you how to make your own cigar. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be able to use your own tobacco to make a perfect handmade stogie.
What Goes Into Making a Cigar?
Before we set out on teaching you how to make a cigar, first we have to discuss how cigars are traditionally made. Most cigars you buy at a shop have been touched by numerous hands before you end up smoking them.
The entire process of making cigars from harvesting the tobacco to rolling is incredibly labor-intensive.
Here’s a breakdown of each factor of a finished premium cigar:
The Tobacco Leaves
Although tobacco leaves are quite hardy, they aren’t invincible. So, they must be handled with care before they get to the factory. The leaf is the most vital and expensive part of the cigar. Cigars from premium brands typically contain three types of leaves:
- The Wrapper Leaf. For just about any kind of cigar, the wrapper leaf is the most delicate. If you think about any high-quality cigar you’ve smoked, the wrapper leaf packs all the aromas and flavor. Tobacco farmers grow the wrapper leaves in specific conditions to optimize their taste and quality.
- The Filler Leaf. This type of leaf is usually a blend of different leaves that are there for their sturdy and durable properties. Premium cigars tend to use a long filler leaf to help the cigar keep its shape as it burns. Filler leaves also add to the flavor and spice of a great cigar.
- The Binder Leaf. A binder leaf is there to hold everything in place so that the cigar can burn properly.
Each type of tobacco leaf is there to help make the cigar more enjoyable. Manufacturers remove the middle vein and central vein of each leaf, and assort them by color, flavor, and various other factors. It can take several years for an unprocessed leaf to eventually make its way into a cigar.
Molding The Cigars
Once all the filler, binder, and wrapper leaves are sorted, they are placed into cigar molds. Depending on the factory, a cigar mold can typically fit anywhere from 10 to hundreds of cigars.
They have a smaller diameter than the cigars so that they can create a compression effect. The stogies are periodically rotated to avoid the creases from the molding machine to show.
Wrapping The Cigars
After the stogies are nice and compressed, they are ready to be rolled by expert artisans. Cuban cigars are rolled with a fine-grade, silky wrapper leaf that gives the stogie its premium appearance. While most brands use a similar process, it’s the wrapping part that gives each cigar its own unique persona.
The Aging Process
After the rollers add the cap, the stogies are sent to an aging room where they will stay put for at least 21 days. Aging the stogies allows all the pieces to blend together. Some brands age their stogies months before they box them and ship them out to retailers.
How To Make Your Own Cigar at Home
Now that you know the conventional way cigars are made, how do you make one at home? It might seem difficult considering you don’t have your own crop, tobacco plant, or mold. However, making homemade cigars is easier than you may think.
While you might not be able to start a cigar company with this method, it’s enough for you to make and enjoy your own cigars at home.
Step 1) Preparing the Tobacco Leaves
As you can see from the information above, the tobacco leaf is an integral and vital component of cigar making. While you can grow your own plants, it might take a while until you have enough tobacco to make your own stogies.
Fortunately, you can buy every kind of unprocessed leaf you need at a specialized store.
To prepare your tobacco leaves, you’ll need to:
- Get Them Wet. This is the first hurdle for preparing your tobacco plants. You can use a spray bottle or a humidor to wet the leaves and prepare them for rolling. The amount of water and duration of the humidification process is subjective, but your wrapper, binder, and filler leaf should be flexible.
- Find Leaves For Your Cover Sheet. The thinnest and softest, and longest leaves tend to make the best wrappers. You want to find smooth leaves with a good shape since this is the part of the cigar that you’ll be touching.
- Cut The Veins. You want to completely cut out the central veins from all the leaves you’ll be using for your wrap.
- Make Your Binder Leaf Blend. This leaf will go between the wrapper and filler leaves. Make sure to choose leaves that are worse than your cover sheet but better than your filler.
- Find Your Filling. Take all the leftover leaves after selecting your wrapper and binder and use them for your filling. You can also smell and inspect the blend to determine its flavor.
Step 2) Gather Your Materials
Once you have all your tobacco leaf blends sorted, you can start gathering everything you’ll need to make your homemade cigars.
Here’s what you need before you start rolling:
- A Cigar Mold. The cigar mold is an essential piece of equipment when it comes to making stogies at home. It consists of 2 wooden boards with special cutouts designed to hold the cigars. You can make a DIY mold with some basic materials.
- A Knife. You can use virtually any sized knife, just as long as it’s sharp and thin. Knives designed for cutting fruits and vegetables work best.
- Transparent Glue. Colorless glue (also known as resin) is needed to complete the rolling process. You also want odorless glue so that it doesn’t affect the flavors of your cigars. Some cigar shops sell glue specifically designed for rolling cigars, so you can start there.
Step 3) Rolling Your Cigars
The rolling process is fun, but it’s also intricate. So, you’ll need to follow these instructions carefully if you want to make a great cigar you can smoke with pride.
- Bunch Up Your Filler Leaves. Grab a good handful of your filler leaves and bunch them up. The length of your bunch is based on personal preference, but most stogies are around 5-7 inches long. You’ll want to make sure all the thickest leaves are in the middle of the bunch. The leaves should get progressively thinner as you complete your filler.
- Place the Filler Bunch on Your Binder Leaf. Set your binder leaf face down on a flat surface with your filler bunch starting at the edge of the binder.
- Roll the Binder Leaf. Now comes the fun part, rolling your cigar. Start rolling with the pointy edge of the binding leaf so that they slowly cover the filling. Make sure to tuck the binding wrapper below the filling, pressing it gently. Continue rolling forward until completion. If the leaf is too long, use the knife to cut any excess plant wrapper from the top of your cigar.
- Choose the Head and Foot. One end of your stogie needs to be the head (where you put your mouth) and the other for the foot (where you light). Pinch the side of the head and twist the rest of the cigar lightly. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect, as you can fix it later.
- Seal the Binding. Place the transparent glue on the bottom edge of the binding wrapper. This will stop the tobacco leaf from unrolling. If you have a cigar mold, now is the right time to place it in. The mold will help give the cigar a smooth shape.
- Prepare Your Wrapper Leaf. The face of your wrapper leaf (the smoother side) should be down on the table.
- Rolling Your Wrapper. You should use the same technique from rolling the binding layer for your wrapper. However, it should be rolled with care as it’s more frail than the middle layer and filler blend.
- Dry Your Hand-Rolled Cigar. Now that you’re done rolling your stogie, it’s time to let it dry. You can place it on a drying rack for a few days, then you should be able to smoke it.
Step 4) Storage
To keep your handmade stogies fresh, you’ll need to store them in a humidor. Once sealed inside, your stogies will maintain their freshness and taste absolutely amazing when you smoke them.
How to Make Cigarillos
A cigarillo is essentially a mini cigar, and they have a similar production process. Here’s how to make a cigarillo by hand:
Step 1) Prepare Your Tobacco
Using a food scale, weight out around 3 grams of tobacco to use for your filling. You can add more or less tobacco based on personal preference.
That said, more tobacco will make your cigarillo tighter and burn slower.
Step 2) Preparing Your Wrap
Unroll your cigarillo wrap so you can add your tobacco leaf filling. If this is your first time, you might want to pick up a few extra wrappers in case it tears.
You can get wrappers at virtually any smoke shop or convenience store.
Step 3) Place the Cigarillo Wrapper on a Flat Surface
Lay the cigarillo wrappers on a flat table or surface so that the edges curl up. If the edges don’t curl, you can use a pen or small tube to curl them yourself.
Step 4) Add Your Tobacco
Use your fingers to sprinkle all your tobacco leaf flakes evenly throughout the wrapper. Make sure it’s even, or else you may end up with lumps that prevent your cigarillo from burning properly.
Step 5) Start Rolling
Place the tips of your thumbs on the center of the wrapper and start rolling upwards. Don’t worry if some of the tobacco falls out, you can pack it in later.
Continue rolling up until you reach the edge of the wrapper. Finally, lick the edge of the cigarillo wrapper and seal it.
How Much Does It Cost to Make Your Own Cigar?
You’re probably well aware that cigar prices can vary based on quality, brand, and numerous other factors. That said, the cost to make a cigar is typically between $0.30 to $5. However, it’s crucial to note that experienced cigar makers have everything they need from tobacco seeds, plants, molds, and boxes.
Is It Cheaper To Make Your Own Cigars?
The short answer is no. If your plan is to make high-quality stogies that always get positive feedback, it will be extremely tough to beat a reputable cigar manufacturer.
Premium stogies from brands like Romeo Y Juliet and Arturo Fuente can essentially take years to make. The farmers take great care of their seeds and pants, allowing the factory to get the finest tobacco harvest possible.
That’s not to say you can’t make your own stogies without breaking the bank. The first few batches might be costly and time-consuming, but you can eventually develop a method that works for you.
Are There Any Other Benefits to Making Your Own Cigars?
Making your own homemade stogies can be extremely satisfying. While you might not get it right the first few times, you’ll definitely appreciate the process and all the hard work that goes into making a high-quality cigar.
One of the most apparent benefits to making your own stogies is that you know everything that’s going inside. When you buy stogies from the shop, you don’t know what kind of chemicals the manufacturer is using to preserve their freshness.
Moreover, you can reduce the cost of your stogies once you get used to making them at home.
There’s a lot of work and passion that goes into cigar making. You need to take good care of your plants, complete the fermentation process, and physically roll each stogie to perfection. Making your own cigars at home can be incredibly fun if you have the right attitude.
Once you’ve ordered seeds or purchased unprocessed leaves, give the method above a try to make a fine-grade cigar.