Cigar Glue is essential to the manufacturing of cigars and yet seldomly regarded. Many cigar lovers see it for the first time when watching cigar rollers at work.
Small jars containing a milky, viscous paste, into which the torcedor regularly dips his fingers. This mysterious substance is cigar glue, an organic fixative that is essential to cigar production as we know it.
Cigar glue is a food-safe adhesive that is also used for postage stamps and envelopes. The stuff gets its stickiness from plant extracts and starch or dextrin combinations that come from manioc (yucca) and other plants like corn, wheat, or rice.
Cigar glue primarily comes into play when attaching the wrapper and the cap. A small amount of glue is applied to the wrapper’s outer edge before it is wound around the cigar bundle; the cap is adhered with glue to the head of the cigar. Because the glue is plant-based, it is edible and food-safe. It is also odorless and tasteless, so it doesn’t affect the taste of the cigar.
In many factories, versatile cigar glue is also used to affix cigar bands, primarily because it’s readily available and is food-safe. Sometimes, however, different starch-based glues are used to apply the bands.
Because cigar glue would be too costly to produce in-house, it is typically purchased in powdered form and mixed immediately prior to use. The powder is dissolved in boiled, warm water until it is reaches the right viscosity and its adhesive properties develop. Tabacalero Perdomo, for example, uses a yucca-based adhesive, with about 1,900 pounds (880 kg) of powdered glue going into its annual output of 12 million cigars.
Because the plant-based fixative is actually a foodstuff, it has a limited shelf life once reconstituted. Therefore, it’s usually mixed as necessary to meet anticipated demand. At the end of the day, any leftovers are placed in cold storage and used up within a day or two.
Along with its many other advantages, the starchy substance is also cost-effective; glue cost per cigar is less than a quarter of a US cent. Cigar adhesives commonly available at tobacco specialty retailers, often used by smokers to repair wrapper damage, are not typically of the same substance as the glue used in cigar factories. These emergency glues often contain pectin or gum arabic, are convenient for home use, and have a long shelf life.
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Spring Edition 2015. Read more