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Old 04-11-2005, 08:36 PM   #1
windsorlacorona
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CIGAR BEETLE eggs and freezing - INITIAL REPORT

As some of you know I am currently gathering scientific evidence regarding the Cigar Beetle Lasioderma serricorne

I have got another thread going, listing papers that I need help from some BOTL to locate. I will update it as papers come in and are required.
Cigar Beetle papers - need your help


Once I gather enough information it is my hope to prepare a full summary of facts about the Cigar Beetle and make it available to the public. Most importantly this will include solid facts about time and temperatures required to kill eggs in cigars. Here I am presenting some initial data that I have found.

CIGAR BEETLE DATA

Cigar Beetle eggs can be killed by exposure to temperatures easily obtainable by home refrigerators/freezers. An industrial deep freeze is not required, as rumor has indicated.

There is a direct correlation between the time it takes to kill and temperature. The colder the temp, the shorter it takes to kill eggs.

The figures below are time to kill 95% (abbreviated LT95) of eggs exposed to the environment. Keep this in mind when applying these figures to cigars because 1) we want to kill 100% of eggs and 2) any eggs inside our cigars have a thick layer of insulating tobacco that must be cooled before the eggs will reach that temperature.

5c (41f) requires ~12 days (275 hours)
0c (32f) requires ~9 days (220 hours)
-5c (23f) requires ~4 days (100 hours)
-10c (14f) requires less than 24 hours
-15c (5f) requires less than 24 hours
-20c (-4f) requires less than 24 hours


The length of time you should freeze your cigars depends on the temperature your freezer is at. I highly recommend that everyone using their freezer to treat cigars keeps a fridge/freezer thermometer in there so they know roughly what temp range their freezer runs at. These are available at most grocery stores, usually with baking supplies. From experience I have seen home freezers that run anywhere from 1 degree below freezing to as low as -25c.
Right now I am trying to get data on how long it takes a cigar to go from room temp to 5c, and from 5c to -20c. Based on data from other consumables I estimate it would take a cigar at least 24 hours to reach the same temperature as the freezer (equilibrium) when it is moved into the freezer from the refrigerator. Based on this alone one should add 24 hours to amount of time cigars are kept in the freezer.
The times given above are to kill 95% of eggs. I have not found times required to kill 99.9% of eggs but doubling the LT95 for that temperature should be more than sufficient.

IN SUMMARY

Double bag your cigars and let them spend 24 hours in the refrigerator. I think everyone agrees that this gives the cigars a safe transition from room temp to near freezing. Move the cigars into the freezer. How long they should stay there depends on your freezer temp. If it is below -10c 72 hours in the freezer should be sufficient. That's 24 hours to get the cigars to -10c, 24 hours to kill 95% of eggs, and an extra 24 hours for good measure. When coming out of the freezer it is a good idea to let the cigars spend 24 hours in the fridge, and another 24 hours at room temp STILL SEALED IN THE BAGS. This protects the cigars from rapid changes in temp/humidity.

I know there are some out there who prefer to avoid freezing because of potential damage to cigars and the rest period required afterwards. The time required will vary greatly based upon the temp of your fridge. Keep in mind the temp will also fluctuate based on door opening/closing etc. (Although this occurs in the freezer, it is less of an issue due to the comparatively short time required) With an LT95 of 12 days at 5c I would personally keep cigars in there for at least 3 weeks.

This information should be applied to uninfested cigars for prevention of a beetle outbreak. If you have cigars that are infested or you know have been exposed to beetles they should be subjected to more lengthy treatment because they will presumably have far more eggs present than any uninfested cigars that picked up some eggs during manufacture.

Data source: Mullen, M. A., and R. T.Arbogast. 1979. Time-temperature-mortality relationships for various stored-product insect eggs and chilling times for selected commodities. Journal of Economic Entomology 72:47678.

Lastly, the legal stuff.
These are just interpretive suggestions based upon the data presented. The author is not liable in any way for any damage caused to your tobacco products resulting from your following these suggestions. This includes but is not limited to cold temperature exposure, temperature fluctuation, humidity fluctuation, or beetle infestation. Please make your own decision when it comes to taking care of your own cigars. blah blah blah
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Old 04-12-2005, 03:43 AM   #2
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Interesting stuff. Do you personally freeze all of your cigars when you get them? It seems like it would be a pain, but at the same time, if it guaranteed no beetles, it might be worth it. I look foward to seeing your next installment.
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Old 04-12-2005, 09:09 AM   #3
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Thanks for the informative post windsorlacorona. I had a minor beetle oubreak several months ago and carefully froze and thawed about 60 cigars following a similar regimen to what you outlined. I had no cigar damage and no recurrance of beetles.
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Old 04-12-2005, 10:54 AM   #4
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Good info, thanks.

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Old 04-12-2005, 11:33 AM   #5
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Old 04-12-2005, 12:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob G
Do you personally freeze all of your cigars when you get them? It seems like it would be a pain, but at the same time, if it guaranteed no beetles, it might be worth it.
All cigars that go into my humidors go thru a similar freezing process. Whenever a new box comes in, regardless of source, I do 24 hours in the fridge, four days in the freezer (my freezer is always right around -20c so I could get away with 3 days), 24 hours in the fridge, 24 hours room temp, then into the humidor for at least a 30 day rest. Sometimes I like to sample one or two sticks from a new box and will set some aside w/o freezing. Just be sure you remember which sticks these are and don't leave them for too long. It would really suck if one of those sticks was the only one from the box that had eggs
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Old 04-12-2005, 12:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windsorlacorona
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob G
Do you personally freeze all of your cigars when you get them? It seems like it would be a pain, but at the same time, if it guaranteed no beetles, it might be worth it.
All cigars that go into my humidors go thru a similar freezing process. Whenever a new box comes in, regardless of source, I do 24 hours in the fridge, four days in the freezer (my freezer is always right around -20c so I could get away with 3 days), 24 hours in the fridge, 24 hours room temp, then into the humidor for at least a 30 day rest. Sometimes I like to sample one or two sticks from a new box and will set some aside w/o freezing. Just be sure you remember which sticks these are and don't leave them for too long. It would really suck if one of those sticks was the only one from the box that had eggs
Did you have problems with beetles once? It seems like an awful lot of work and it seems like it would be traumatic on the cigars. I just wonder whether it is worth it. Maybe the peace of mind alone is worth it.
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Old 04-12-2005, 12:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob G
Did you have problems with beetles once? It seems like an awful lot of work and it seems like it would be traumatic on the cigars. I just wonder whether it is worth it. Maybe the peace of mind alone is worth it.
Nope, never had them and never plan to. No one has ever reported that they can tell the difference between a cigar that has been frozen and one that was never frozen. There are vendors that claim to freeze all boxes that they sell, and I know many other BOTL freeze their own cigars, so it is more likely than not that you have smoked cigars that were frozen at one time. To avoid damage the key is to double bag, and avoid rapid changes in temp and humidity. That is why you have to let them come to room temp before you open the bags after freezing. If you take the cigars out of the bags while they are at 40f they will be damaged by rapid moisture buildup. (think of what happens to glasses when you have been outside on a cold day and then go into a warm room... they instantly fog up.) For me freezing is definately the way to go. Here in Texas keeping humidors below 65f all year is an act of futility (except for you wine cooler guys ) and yes, beetle eggs will hatch as low as 65f. At 70f their metabolism slows greatly but they can still hatch down to 65f.
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Old 04-12-2005, 04:55 PM   #9
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Great post, your time is much appreciated!
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:03 PM   #10
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I got my first batch of cigars in the freezer as a precaution. It sounds like a lot of work but when you really thing about it. It probably takes a grand total of 5-10 minutes to guarantee that you don't get beetles. Even if its overkill seems worthwhile to me.
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