What is a cigar humidor?
A cigar humidor is a humidity-controlled box or room that is primarily used for storing cigars, cigarettes or pipe tobacco. They can range from a small box to a large walk-in humidor; which are favoured by cigar distributors. Each one has a good seal to maintain the internal temperature and provide a thermostat and hygrometer to help in the maintenance of conditions. In essence, humidors work to maintain the ideal relative humidity and temperature to keep your cigars moist.
How does it work?
More than just a box; it has everything you need to keep your cigars in perfect condition. Mimicking the ambient climate required to keep them at their best, this will ensure that they mature well over a period of time. Maintaining the balance of humidity is all down to the two components of the humidor working in harmony with each other – the Spanish cedar which makes up the box, and the humidifier kept within it.
How do you properly prepare a humidor?
Don’t make the all too common mistake of stacking the humidor full of cigars immediately. It needs the proper preparation in order to function at peak potential.
Before the preparations can begin, ensure you have all the necessary materials within your reach. These include; a hygrometer, distilled water, a plastic bag, a cloth, and a sponge.
For optimum results from your humidor, the hygrometer must be correctly calibrated. To do this, you will need:
- Dampen the cloth in warm water
- Carefully wrap the hygrometer in the damp cloth and leave for half an hour
- Remove the hygrometer from the damp cloth
- Calibrate it to read between 95% and 97%
- If the hygrometer already reads between 95% and 97%, it is ready to use and you do not need to complete the calibration process
The next step is cleaning. If your cigar humidor is brand new, this may not be necessary – however, if it has been previously used, you’ll need to remove any leftover tobacco. To do this, spray the inside with compressed air, then carefully wipe around the interior of the humidor with a soft cloth. Next comes the seasoning.
How do you season a humidor?
Seasoning a humidor is essential for maintaining the perfect balance of humidity in order to preserve the taste and flavour of your cigars.
- Fully submerge the humidifier in a bowl of distilled water. Do not use tap water as it can damage the element
- Keep it submerged, face down, for up to 3 minutes
- Remove the humidifier from the bowl and then wipe away any excess water
- Precisely line the bottom of the humidor with the plastic bag
- Dampen the sponge with distilled water, and then place on top of the plastic bag
- Place the hygrometer and humidifier in the lid of the humidor
- Close the lid – leave it closed for between 12 and 14 hours. The longer that you can leave it, the better
- Repeat this process
- The humidity level of the humidor should now be between 65% and 75%, ready to store your cigars
Charging the humidifier
In order to ensure that the humidor remains at optimum humidity, you will need to remember to charge your humidifier at intervals.
- Carefully remove the humidifier from the humidor
- Place the humidifier in a shallow container; squirt either a specialist humidifying solution or plain distilled water, into the humidifier. Only use a small amount of liquid – the aim is to moisten the humidifier, not soak it
- Using a dry cloth, wipe any excess solution from the front of the unit
- Replace the humidifier into the lid of the humidor
Taking care of your humidor
To guarantee the longevity of your humidor, you will need to care for it properly. Some helpful suggestions include; store the humidor where this is no risk of it being knocked over, keep it out of direct sunlight, do not use water on your humidor as the wood will be damaged a damp cloth will work fine and only use a soft cloth and beeswax polish to clean your humidor.
Taking care of your cigars
After putting in the effort to secure the maintenance of your cigars, it is still best to check them regularly.
- Over humidifying can result in a white, powdery ‘bloom’ forming on your cigars. Whilst this is not harmful in any way, it is definitely unsightly. However, it can be easily removed – the mould can be brushed away from top to bottom with a shaving or pastry brush.
- Rotate the layers of cigars from top to bottom from time to time, if you don’t smoke them often.
- Check they are in optimum condition by pressing your thumb below the band; they should be firm to the touch, but spring back when you press them. If they do not spring back, then they are not humidified enough, and if they feel soft and spongy they are over humidified.
- Do not store anything other than cigars in the humidor. Other cigar accessories, such as your lighter and cigar cutter should be stored separately.