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The Battle of the Breath

The Battle of the Breath
3 years ago 5 comments

A while back, I had made plans for a Saturday night. My date was scheduled for 7:00, and I had a couple of hours to kill before going out, presenting a perfect opportunity to kick back, light up a good cigar, and relax a bit before the night's festivities. So here I was, about halfway through what happened to be an awfully strong stick, a Camacho if memory serves me right, and it hits me: I'm going to be up close and personal with someone, and I'm gonna have some awful cigar breath! To make matters worse, it just so happened that the girl I was taking out absolutely hated all things smoke-related, so cigar breath was definitely not going to make for a good time (and needless to say, things didn't end up working out with that chick; I gotta have my smokes!). Anyway, at the moment all I could do was try to set out on a crash journey of researching the best-known methods of battling cigar breath, and there didn't seem to be much that can take on the brute strength of one of the worst breath enemies in all existence. Nevertheless, combining some interesting findings with my years of experience, I was able to come up with a very effective solution to the problem, and I'm happy to share it with my fellow cigar freaks. After all, nobody likes cigar breath, not even cigar smokers themselves.

The thing with cigar breath is that unlike most causes of bad breath, cigar breath isn't brought about by bacteria. This fact alone completely renders most “fresh breath solutions” on the market to be relatively useless. In my early smoking days, I usually reached for my trusty bottle of Listerine in attempts to mask my smoke breath from my then girlfriend. Of course, this method never worked. The minty freshness would last for a few minutes, but low and behold, the cigar breath would always return, not to mention the awful taste of the flavored mouthwash mixed with stale cigar taste was stuck to my tongue for what seemed like an eternity. Unfortunately, this is going to be the case with most over-the-counter mouthwashes and breath sprays. They're either designed to kill bacteria, cover up (weak) odors, or attempt to do both. As far as cigar breath goes, however, they're powerless.

If, however, you have no other option than to buy an oral care product in attempts to remedy your nasty cigar breath, there are a couple of halfway decent products available today that can actually help. One is called Targon, which is a rinse aimed at cigarette smokers that's been around for years. Its marketing is to get nicotine stains out of teeth, but the strong cleansing properties of the rinse do a pretty good job at cleansing the palate after a strong cigar. The other product is called Smart Mouth. This one is somewhat expensive, but desperate times require desperate measures, I guess. Smart Mouth, like Listerine, is said to work for bad breath caused by bacteria, but there must be something extra in it because it does a pretty darned good job at eliminating all types of bad breath, including that caused by cigars. In addition to these, there is a breath spray available at some tobacconists called Cigar Clear, which is somewhat of an extra strong peppermint formula aimed specifically at smokers. It will do in a pinch, but ultimately it's just a cover-up and will wear off quickly. Nevertheless, it's not a bad idea to drop a few bucks on a bottle to keep in your briefcase or glove compartment for emergencies.

Now for the good news: the most effective solutions are cheap, easy, and not very hard to find. First off, in my research, I found that citric acid is cigar breath's worst enemy. As a matter of fact, just about any acidic compound will do a good job at breaking down tar left on the palate and clearing out the smoke fog in no time. This includes vinegar, coffee, and even some soft drinks. However, I'm not so sure vinegar breath, or coffee breath would be much better than cigar breath; it's kind of like jumping out of a puddle and into a ditch. Citrus fruit, on the other hand, is quite pleasant. I can't think of anyone who doesn't like the smell or taste of a fresh orange or a refreshing splash of lemon juice. Best of all, oranges, lemons, limes, etc. are all very inexpensive and available at just about any grocery store, restaurant, or bar. You can pick your poison, whether orange juice, a whole orange or grapefruit, or a glass of water with a hefty dose of lemon or lime juice liberally squeezed into it. No matter what you choose, you can pretty much rest assured that the cigar breath will be on its way out very quickly, and not only that but rather than being simply covered up, it will be completely eliminated. Pretty cool, huh?

The other cigar breath killer is, in my opinion, something that every household should stock up on. It's a virtual miracle substance that has been proven to take stains out of clothing, whiten teeth, clean just about anything, and completely annihilate just about any germ known to man. It's cheap, it's sold at just about any grocery store, drug store, or gas station, and although one of the most powerful cleaners in existence, it's still safe enough to rinse your mouth with when diluted. I'm talking about hydrogen peroxide. That's right, that old brown bottle of fizzy clear liquid that your momma used to pour on your boo-boos when you were a kid. It can be bought for as little as half a buck per bottle but has endless uses. See, the thing with peroxide is that it excels in removing stuck-on substances. The thing that makes cigar breath so robust is the way the tar and nicotine become like glue on your palate. This is why most other mouth rinses just sort of run over it, rather than stripping it off. With peroxide, though, tar and nicotine don't really stand a chance. Now before you go thinking about all the times your dentist told you that peroxide is bad for your enamel, I'll honestly say that for years I've been rinsing with peroxide and water just about every time I brush my teeth, and to date my enamel is still there, healthy and shiny as ever. The brown bottle you get at the drug store is highly diluted, to begin with, and when diluted 50/50 with water is completely safe for your teeth. In fact, it's quite beneficial to them. Peroxide works wonders when it comes to whitening teeth and preventing infections and various oral issues, including gingivitis. However, before I digress too much, let's get back to the topic at hand. For cigar breath, a minute or two rinsing with peroxide and water will usually do the trick, even after the strongest of cigars. Also, although not necessary as far as cigar breath is concerned, your peroxide rinse should be followed by a thorough brushing to ensure your breath is as fresh as possible.

So let's put it all together. Over-the-counter mouthwashes and breath sprays are useless. Citrus fruits and juices are awesome. Hydrogen peroxide is a cigar breath killing beast. So this being said, here's my personal fail-proof regimen when I know I'm going to have a close encounter but still want to enjoy a smoke before going out:

  • I squeeze a large amount of fresh lemon juice in a glass of water and sip it while smoking. Not only will this minimize cigar breath from the get-go, but the palate will be cleansed while smoking, actually furthering the enjoyability of the smoking experience.
  • After smoking, I rinse my mouth thoroughly with a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water and follow with a good brushing with mint flavored toothpaste.
  • Before heading out, I'll usually have some more lemon water just to be sure my palate is squeaky clean. Also, if going to dinner, my beverage of choice will almost always be water with extra lemon. If going to the bar, I'll squeeze extra lemon into my Long Island iced tea or extra lime in my Corona. Every base will be covered and cigar breath will be virtually non-existent.

Of course, I can be a bit excessive about these things. I take my breath pretty seriously. In all honesty, a good glass of lemon water OR a quick peroxide rinse will no doubt do the trick for most. Also, if you're one of those folks that are able to enjoy a cigar on your lunch break at work, I have some quick words of wisdom. First of all, I envy you. I get a 30-minute lunch break, and it's nowhere near long enough for me to truly enjoy a good smoke. Second, consider packing an orange, a grapefruit, a tangerine, or something similar in your lunch bag. A good dose of citrus fruit after your cigar will do an excellent job at clearing your breath. Also, if nothing else, keep a tin of Altoids at your desk. They are one of the few mints that actually do a decent job of covering up cigar breath. Just make sure to go for the peppermint variety, as they're the strongest by far.

So there you have it! The seemingly unsolvable problem of cigar breath is now solved. Rest assured, by the way, that I wouldn't write about something like this without first trying everything out first hand. Over my years of smoking, I've always been on somewhat of a journey to find a solution to this ongoing problem. I'm rather social, I go out quite a bit, and on top of that I work in close quarters. My breath is something I have to pay close attention to. My cigars are something I pay even more attention to. So why wouldn't finding a solution to cigar breath be a priority for me?

Here at CigarPlace, we are all about helping out our fellow cigar fanatics. If you have an idea for a topic on our blog or a question you'd like answered from our cigar experts, feel free to leave a comment down below. As always, happy smoking and keep that breath clean!

Posted in: Cigar 101
Chris P 3 years ago at 6:54 PM
Will certainly be trying this out, Ive not seen this problem covered before!
RevbIGhIG 3 years ago at 7:27 PM
Could have all been said in a short paragraph.
APB 3 years ago at 9:40 PM
Thanks for your insight! My wife and daughters will appreciate my new sweet smell!
mkfinn (aka Bill Howard) 3 years ago at 4:21 PM
Never tried peroxide or noted that fruit would work so well. But I did discover that candied ginger really works well-- though you can buy it you can easily make your own by peeling and slicing it and burying the slices in sugar in a small Tupperware container; the whole batch becomes candied ginger in ginger-drenched syrup pretty quickly. I raid the supply for both post cigar mouth cleansing-- and for drinks.
BravoZuluCigars 2 years ago at 5:45 PM
Baking Soda brush & gargle works well, too.
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