Now that you’ve developed a refined taste in cigars, it’s time to invest in the right accessories and storage. If you really want to collect and take care of your cigars, a high-quality humidor is crucial. The right humidor will maintain the perfect humidity level so that your cigars never get too dry or too moist. After all, when exposed to the wrong level of humidity, your cigars will be incapable of delivering a pleasurable smoke.
When it comes to selecting the right humidor, there are many things to consider. First, you have to make sure you’re going with a respected, trusted brand. You also have to make sure that you choose the right hygrometer as this component will allow you to ensure that the humidity level stays consistent. Read on to find out all you need to know.
Most Commonly Used Wood For Humidors: Spanish Cedar
Humidors aren’t more than the sum of their parts and selecting the best wood for your cigar storage container is paramount to the life of your cigars. The reason for this is that the kind of wood used for your storage box will directly determine the amount of moisture that’s contained or repelled inside it. And as any seasoned cigar aficionado knows, too much or too little humidity can easily ruin a priceless collection. Even if the humidor isn’t quite so shoddy as to ruin your cigars outright, a overabundance or lack of moisture can drastically alter flavor, often killing it outright.
High quality humidors are meant to keep cigars at the most stable humidity conditions (generally this is 68 F to 72 F) and are generally crafted from hard woods. The most commonly used for commercial humidors are Spanish cedar and mahogany. This is due to Spanish cedars propensity for maintaining a large quantity of moisture which’ll keep your cigars in peak condition, holding in the flavor and preventing crumbling. It also has a very unique and appealing aroma which will eventually seeping into your cigar collection provided that the cigars are allowed to sit in the humidor for a extended period of time. This is the main reason (aside from those of general aesthetics – it’s a very lustrous and beautiful looking wood) that many high grade cigars are sold, pre-wrapped in Spanish cedar folding.
Also, tobacco beetles, dreaded the arch nemesis of any sizable cigar collection, have a marked aversion to Spanish cedar. The tobacco beetle (Lasioderma serricorne) is so named due to it’s propensity for seeking out, nesting in and eating tobacco. They’ll also lay their eggs in sufficiently large deposits of tobacco which can, given time, lead to a infestation (this is the primary reason that humidors should never go above 72 humidity, since then it’ll be far more likely for tobacco beetles you didn’t even know you had to hatch in your humidor). As you can now see, having a humidor with built in protection from the beetles is a huge plus!
Lastly, Spanish cedar’s very resilient to warping and bending, which’s a common occurrence in other humidors made of a lesser grade product (typically weaker wood). So not only will a finely crafted Spanish cedar humidor protect your cigars, it’ll also protect itself.
Other Humidor Materials
While wood is easily the most popular choice for humidors, there are other materials to consider as well. Plus, even if you do choose a wood humidor, which type of wood are you going to decide on?
As we said, wood reigns supreme in the humidor world. It’s elegant, relatively resilient and perfectly effective at keeping your humidity level just right. Plus, many people just love the smell of wood when they reach into their humidor to grab a cigar. Wood is excellent at maintaining humidity, making it a great choice of material.
With wood, it’s all about the humidity absorption rate. That’s why three types of wood seem to be the most popular.
American Red Cedar
American red cedar is a more affordable alternative to Spanish cedar. Its aroma is far more pungent, so keep that in mind. Of course, there are many people who actually adore the smell of this type of wood, so the aroma is no problem for them.
While American red cedar is also highly effective at maintaining humidity and preserving flavor, it’s not as effective at warding off bugs who can get into your cigars. Of course, whether or not this is even a concern of yours largely has to do with here you live.
Another more affordable choice is Honduran mahogany, a type of wood with a humidity absorption rate that’s very close to that of Spanish cedar. It’s effective at its purpose, but it’s not as good at preserving the flavor of your cigars.
Acrylic is becoming more and more popular these days. These see-through humidors allow you to show off your stellar cigar collection while making it easy for you to keep track of what’s inside without having to constantly open and close the lid. Acrylic is also more resilient than wood, meaning that it’s less likely to chip when moved around.
Glass humidors are fairly popular among those who enjoy the luxury cigar market. High-quality glass humidors can do their job while allowing you to admire your collection. Of course, glass is a fairly fragile material compared to others, meaning that those who have glass humidors must be very careful. Glass humidors are also relatively expensive.
Marble humidors are dwindling in popularity, largely because they’re impractical. While they’re visually stunning, they’re very fragile and extremely heavy. Plus, they tend to be so expensive that they alienate those who aren’t wealthy.
The Choice Material is Yours
The type of humidor material that you choose is really up to you. While wood seems to be the most popular, only you know your unique preferences and storage needs.
Signs of a Broken Humidor
There are a number of different ways in which a humidor might be broken. However, the most important and frequent problem is a malfunction in the humidor’s hygrometer. Below are two different methods you can use to troubleshoot your hygrometer based on the type you’re using, either analog or digital.
ANALOG HYGROMETERS: To check analog hygrometers, simply soak a hand towel and wrap it around your hygrometer. Let it sit this way for 30 minutes and then check the reading. If the hygrometer should register anything other than 100% humidity, it’ll need to be re-calibrated.
As a note, it’s important to use distilled water, or else the residual water will cause damage once you replace your hygrometer in your humidor.
DIGITAL HYGROMETERS: For digital hygrometers, you’ll need to place your hydrometer in a plastic bag for 24 hours along with a container full of salt water (the salt water needs to be particularly thick for this to work). After this, the hygrometer should read at 75%. If not, then, like the analogue version, it’ll need to be re-calibrated.
As you can see, the process of identifying a malfunction in your hygrometer’s different depending on what type of technologies involved, either digital or analog. Be familiar with the type of hygrometer your humidor’s using and it’ll save you time in the long run and keep your cigars lasting longer too.
The most likely issue is a loss of calibration. You’ll need to re-calibrate the device to match the exact specifications of your humidor. Loss of calibration can affect both analog and digital humidors but, thankfully, once you’ve identified the problem, the method for fixing it is the same in both cases. Again, simply manually set your hygrometer to 100% for analog and 75% for digital. The soaking technique you used should have set a standard base line for the device, allowing it the recalibrate automatically.
An uncalibrated hygrometer is the most common malfunction in a humidor, so now that you know how to fix the problem, it’ll save you a lot of time and money on cigars in the future.
The Do's and Don'ts when Cleaning your Humidor
Before you even start thinking about cleaning your humidor- Stop! Why are you thinking about doing it? Have you discovered mold on your humidor or cigars? Have you recently been the victim of a tobacco beetle infestation? Have you maybe used bad water to recharge your humidor and have scale buildup? Do you have a lot of Tobacco dust and debris in your humidor? Other than these reasons, or if you just haven’t done it for a few months or more, you probably don’t really need to clean your humidor. In order for it to do the job it was meant to do, you really should leave it be for the most part.
That being said, unless you’re polishing the outside finish of the box, you shouldn’t really use any chemicals. Using any kind of harsh chemical on the inside of the box could ruin the finish, cause warping or otherwise damage the wood, or impart chemicals into the wood that could transfer to your sticks. The following products are recommended to clean the inside of your humidor, with a small explanation for what they’re ideally used for:
– Isopropyl Alcohol: If you’ve mold, you’re going to want to gently rub down the inside of the humidor with a slightly damp with Isopropyl Alcohol lint-free cloth. Obviously, you’re going to want to remove your cigars first and place them in a plastic zip bag to keep them fresh. Remember not to scrub the walls, this is just a light wiping to kill any spores that might be lingering. If you’ve mold on a certain part of the humidor, you might need to use a little more force to get it off, or move on to the next item.
– 150 grit (extremely fine) Sandpaper: If you’ve scale buildup or a mold spot that’s being a little stubborn, you can use some extremely fine grit sandpaper to take a small layer of the wood off of the inside walls of the box. If you do this, you should wipe it down with a slightly damp, lint-free cloth afterwards. An added plus to using the sandpaper is that it could (if you’ve a cedar humidor) release some of that nice cedar-y scent.
– Steam Distilled Water: Never, under any circumstances, use tap water for anything in your humidor because it has so many chemicals, minerals and impurities that’ll do damage to the humidor, potentially cause scale buildup, and generally not work well. If you don’t wanna use Alcohol, use steam distilled water to slightly dampen a lint-free cloth and wipe down the inside of the box.
Cleaning your Humidor should not be an every week event. Most people recommend once every couple of months. Like the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Monitoring the temperature and humidity levels of the humidor will help you clean it less often, keep your cigars at the optimal humidity, and allow them to mature properly.
Distilled or Purified Water?
There’s no joy like firing up a cigar every once in a while to enjoy in the comfort of your own home or on a night out on the town. To ensure that cigar is in top condition, preserved perfectly in any humidor, it’s important to use the right water. Of course, there are plenty of tips and tricks out there to beat the natural aging of cigars, but here’s a main one only the experts use.
Purified water is the way to go for preserving any cigars in a humidor. In fact, the more highly purified the water is, the better. Distilled water will take more frequent water changes to ensure the quality of any stored cigars won’t drop.
Tap water should be avoided at almost all costs because of the impurities and chemicals which can be found commonly in it. Water straight out of a home faucet can promote the growth or micro-organisms, mold, or create a dusty film on the interior of the humidor.
Some so-called “experts” also claim that 50/50 solution of anti-freeze and water can be used to preserve cigars. However, this solution is also used in vehicle engines, and is considered toxic and a pollutant. Don’t use this blend, it’ll cost more than it’s worth, and cigars aging in these fumes simply won’t satisfy.
When looking for the best way to keep cigars fresh in a humidor, invest in distilled or purified water. It’ll keep those stogies in prime condition so there’s no rush to smoke them all. The water’s cheap and can be found at almost any local grocer, so there’s no reason to try any out of the box methods. Sometimes keeping it simple’s the most safe and sure method to follow.
Cigar aficionado’s have been passing down there secrets for centuries, but some things never change.
How Can You Tell If a Humidor Isn’t Working Properly?
The popularity of cigars is something that has continued to increase every year. In many parts of the work, it is socially acceptable to always be smoking a cigar. There are a wide range of qualities with a cigar that people can buy. However, it is also important to keep the cigar at the perfect moisture for the best use. This is most often accomplished with a humidor. A humidor is anything that keeps a cigar in perfect working condition. In general, a humidor is a box or a room. There are many ways in which this can help a cigar to keep its perfect quality. Here are several ways to tell if your humidor is not working properly.
The most obvious sign that a humidor is not working properly is when the cigars start to dry out. The entire purpose of keeping the humidity and moisture up in the humidor is so that the cigars do not dry out. Dry cigars do not let off the same type of smoke that moist ones do. It is important to always keep a cigar at the ideal moisture to achieve the maximum pleasure from smoking the cigar.
Another obvious sign that a humidor is not working properly is discolored smoke that comes out of the cigar. A perfectly rolled cigar that has been kept in the proper conditions emits a specific type of smoke with a good grey color. However, if a humidor is not working properly this smoke will be all sorts of different colors. This is one of the easiest signs to spot when a humidor is not working properly for a person.
Finally, another sign that a cigar was not in the proper conditions when stored is the taste of the cigar. A good cigar should have a smooth and moist taste. However, there are those that do not have the proper conditions for the cigar to stay moist in. When this happens, the taste of the cigar becomes more pungent and it does not have the full experience. To avoid this, always store a cigar in humid and moist conditions so that it can maintain its high-quality appeal. Overall, cigars should be stored properly in a working humidor and when this does not occur these early signs can be a warning to cigar users.
Convert that Wine Cooler to a Giant Humidor
When a cigar smoker becomes a cigar collector, they often end up with a LOT of sticks. Some want them to age for a long time, and others they buy to collect, smoke, and maybe share with friends or trade. Whatever the reason they get into collecting, the point is that proper storage with respect to relative humidity (RH%) and temperature becomes even more important and costly. If the collector is going the traditional route of desktop humidors, or even a standing humidor chest, the price tag can get into the thousands of dollars depending on the capacity.
Enter the Wine Cooler Humidor, or “wineador”. This ingenious piece of equipment is the modification of a home wine cooler – similar to a mini refrigerator in size and shape – into a humidor capable of safely storing and aging several hundred cigars for a fraction of the price of multiple desktop and larger, standing humidors. There are several factors to consider before attempting to make your own wineador, so let’s get right down to it:
What’s Inside Counts
A Thermo-electric wine cooler is what you should look for, as they do not have a traditional condenser, like a refrigerator, and will not produce extra condensation. Remember, the trick to storing and aging cigars is proper temperature and humidity management, so extra humidity from the condenser will hurt, not help. Aside from making sure you have the right kind of temperature management, you also need to consider how you will manage the humidity. Many people recommend using pure silica unscented kitty litter with low dust for the most economical. Others say that you need to use silica pellets. You should price both and make the best decision for you.
Get it Ready
Most wine coolers will have a drain somewhere on it. You need to plug this to keep humidity inside and other nasty stuff outside. You could use caulk or something that will create an airtight seal. The second step would be to wipe down the inside with either distilled water or a slight mixture of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. If you bought the cooler new, it might have a plastic smell to it. You could leave it open and off for a few days, put some baking soda in a dish, or even get a bunch of newspapers, filling the cooler with it and leaving it be for a few days. If you decide to put cedar drawers or shelves in it, that smell will soon overpower anything in the wineador, anyway.
Set it and (Don’t) Forget it
Once you get it set up, plug it in, and adjust the temperature to the desired setting (remember 65-70 degrees is “recommended). Once you reach that, put your humidifying agent in the appropriate place. Many people simply place it in large, flat containers at the bottom shelf, others will have smaller containers at each shelf. Do whatever gives you the best result. If using the kitty litter, don’t bother wetting it first, simply watch your hygrometers and see where the RH% is. If you do need to add water, a very small amount is usually sufficient – like a few sprays from a dollar store spray bottle.
Always remember to check the sticks at least once per week for mold and other issues. The same kind of rules apply to the wineador as a regular humidor. You need to be careful of mold, improper storage, light exposure, temperature control an RH%. However, with the right amount of care a wineador can really save you a lot of money that you can then spend on more cigars!
Taking a Vintage Humidor and Making it Work Again
Most of us prefer to buy a brand-new humidor, because we prioritize one that works as well as possible to properly maintain our cigars at the right temperature and humidity level. But, from time to time, many cigar enthusiasts come across a vintage humidor that they are dying to bring back to life.
Fortunately, there’s no rule that says that after a humidor has reached a certain age, it can no longer do its important job. Most vintage humidors, like all humidors, are relatively simple pieces of hardware, which means that they can easily be brought back to their former glory.
Benefits of Vintage Humidors
So, what makes vintage humidors uniquely appealing? Let’s go over the main benefits of choosing this option.
Sometimes, you’ll find a vintage humidor for a lower price than you would a new one. This is ideal for those who are on a budget, and don’t want to invest in a super expensive option. Even better are the humidors that are priced cheaply due to their age but are in fact beautiful pieces made from exceptional materials.
The aesthetic value of some vintage humidors makes them a worthy investment. A lot of the older designs boast intricate details that make them visually stunning, and absolutely deserving of a spot in your home.
Many older humidors are handmade and feature stunning examples of craftsmanship from a bygone era.
In some cases, a vintage humidor may actually be a valuable piece to add to your collection. For instance, some are made by known humidor manufacturers whose work continues to be praised throughout the cigar-loving community.
Restoring a Vintage Humidor: A Step-by-Step Guide
Now, let’s go over the process of restoring a vintage humidor to its former glory.
Step #1: The first thing that you’ll want to do is grab an unused, nonabrasive sponge. You want it to be unused because any soap or cleaner residue could be bad for the wood. Soak it in distilled water, as tap water contains minerals that can damage the humidor material. Then, gently rub down the entire humidor to remove surface stains as well as film, dust, and debris. Avoid using a cloth or a paper towel, which may create streaks that are unappealing to the eye.
Step #2: Soak the sponge in distilled water one more time. Now, put it on a plastic bag or plastic plate, and put it inside the humidor before closing it. Putting the sponge on plastic material prevents water from getting onto the actual wood. From here, you’ll want to fill the humidor as you normally would, and let it sit on a dry towel for between 30 and 45 minutes.
Step #3: With the sponge still inside of the humidor, add your humidifying component. Allow the humidor to sit overnight with the lid tightly closed.
Step #4: The next morning, you can check on the sponge. If it’s dry, you’ll know that you need to add more of your humidifying component. Spray the sponge with more distilled water if needed.
Step #5: Allow the humidor to sit one more night with the sponge inside. At this stage, your humidor should be ready to go. From here, you can use it as you normally would.
Just as a note, this is also the point where you’ll be able to get a good idea as to whether or not the humidor has issues with its seal, or any small cracks in the material itself. If either of these issues arise, you can take it to a cigar shop, and allow experts to guide you through the repair process.
Vintage humidors can be found easily, and many collectors like seeking out ones that boast beautiful craftsmanship and are made from highly resilient materials. If you happen to come across one that appeals to you, now you know that it can, in most cases, be restored so that it may work once again.
Why Do Some Wooden Humidors Lose Humidity Over Time?
A humidor should always be in constant humidity to properly store cigars and ensure they are well seasoned. A good humidor should have a permanent humidifying system like a humidifier to keep the cigars moist. If cigars are stored without a humidifier, they will quickly lose moisture and dry out according to the surrounding levels of humidity in less than two days. A good humidor should also have the optimum temperature to prevent cigar rot. Temperatures below 25 degrees encourage hatching of tobacco beetle eggs which rots the cigars. On the other hand, the temperatures should not go lower than 12 degrees since low temperatures impair the aging process of cigars.
Relative humidity in humidors should be regulated 65% to 70%. This depends on an individual’s taste preferences. However, it should never exceed the 75% mark for slow proper seasoning.
Below are factors that cause wooden humidors start to lose their humidity:
Lack of good seasoning
Wood that makes the humidor is part of the humidification system that provides flavor and humidity to the cigars. If the wood lacks proper seasoning, it robs moisture away from the humidor which dries the cigars out. Proper seasoning can avoid this.
A humidor should be seasoned by wiping the wood with a clean cloth damped with distilled water. Caution should, however, be taken since oversaturation destroys the humidor. A humidifier should then be left in the humidor for 24 hrs and the process repeated to ensure moisture is continuously retained.
Regular and unnecessary lid opening of the humidor
To ensure humidity levels are stable. The lid should always be closed. It, however, doesn’t have to be too airtight as high temperatures will destroy the cigars. However, the unnecessary opening of the lid brings about a balance of atmospheric pressure from the external environment which makes the humidor lose moisture. To keep the humidity levels constant, a humidor should only be opened quickly and closed again only when necessary.
Lack of proper servicing
Using a hygrometer, moisture levels should constantly be between 65 to 70%. If the temperatures are dropping, it should not be assumed that the humidor will stabilize by itself. Distilled water should be used to prepare and season the humidor again. To ensure durability, humidors should be serviced at least once a year. Regular checkups should be done more during winter as humidity levels are extremely low. The hygrometer should be recalibrated at least once in every 6 months.
Wooden humidors are prone to heat, air conditioning, interior lighting and sunlight destruction. Exposure to sunlight exposes the wood which makes the humidor lose humidity. To keep humidor temperatures stable, a humidor can be stored in a drawer or a cool dry place with temperatures ranging from 12 to 25 degrees Celsius.
Regulate the number of cigars in the humidor
The cigar inventory should be full to maintain stable humidity in the humidor. If the humidor is full, the humidified cigars help maintain a steady humidity in the humidor. Therefore, the humidor doesn’t lose humidity too quickly. Humidors with few cigars expose the wood to the external environment thereby making the humidor lose humidity quite fast.
Putting dry cigars in a humidor
Dry cigars detract humidity since they soak up moisture from the humidor. This causes a drop in humidity in the humidor. If all the cigars are dry, the humidor has to be seasoned after every few days to maintain humidity. After the cigars are no longer dry, the humidor will maintain a stable humidity level.
If the above factors are checked, and the humidor is still not working correctly, consider replacing the humidor. However, a properly maintained humidor will last a lifetime.
A Nice Smooth Humidor: The Dakota Black Humidor
For the ultimate in man cave décor, look no further than the Dakota Black Humidor (120ct). This deep, smooth black lacquer humidor holds 120 of your premium cigars in perfect humidity. The solid black interior features four adjustable dividers to make certain there is no blending flavors. Two humidifiers reside in the recessed lid and cigar scissors attach magnetically to the lid. It also features an external black face hygrometer and a lock and key.
The Dakota has everything you need and more to keep your stogies in the right condition. A simply wonderful and classy humidor that also makes for a nice gift, too.
Specs and Features:
- 15” W x 10” D x 6 1/2” H
- Deep Black Lacquer Finish
- Polished Silver Corners
- Removable Tray with Two Adjustable Dividers
- Two Adjustable Dividers in the Lower Level
- Lock and Key
- External Handles
- Full Black Interior
- Two Traditional Foam Humidifiers
- External Black Face analog Hygrometer
- Humidifiers and Cigar Scissors Attach Magnetically to Steel Lining in the Lid
Properly Winterizing Your Humidor
Many of us invest a good amount of money into our cigar hobby. That's why it can be extremely devastating to discover that our cigars have become too dry to be smoked when the weather gets cold. During the winter, hobbyists have to be extra careful about the way in which they store their cigars.
A high-quality humidor does a great job at protecting cigars against environmental factors. However, even the best humidor needs to be adjusted when winter comes around due to the drastic change in climate. The relentlessly dry weather that comes with the season can leave your cigars vulnerable to damage if the right steps aren't taken.
Here's what you need to do:
Increase Humidity with Water or Beads
It's important that a humidor compensates for the excessively dry weather once winter comes along. One of the easiest ways to increase humidity inside your humidor is by using beads that are specially created for this purpose.
It's easy to find a jar of crystallized beads in a cigar shop. All that you have to do is remove the lid and place it inside of your humidor. If the beads start shrinking, add a little bit of distilled water.
You can also add distilled water directly to your humidor. However, it's crucial that the water is distilled rather than tap. Tap water contains minerals that can damage your cigars when evaporated.
Don't Store Your Humidor by a Heating Vent
Make sure that you keep your humidor far away from any heating vents. Otherwise, you're blasting extremely dry heat directly onto your humidor, interfering with its ability to do its job.
Don't Leave the Door Open
During the winter months, it's extra important to avoid leaving the door or lid open longer than it has to be. Even keeping the door open for one minute can introduce an abundance of dry air that will shrivel up your cigars.
Adjust the Settings if Your Humidor is Electric
If you own an electric humidor, it should be easy to adjust the settings in order to accommodate the cold winter weather. If you don't own an electric humidor, consider investing in one for the winter season.
It doesn't hurt to put a humidifier or two inside the room in which you store your cigars. This boost of humidity can counteract the dryness caused by your home's heating system. Plus, humidifiers can make your room much more pleasant to be in as dry air can be quite uncomfortable.
Keep Your Humidor in Prime Condition During the Winter Season
These tips will help you maintain your cigars throughout the cold, dry winter months. Most importantly, they'll smoke perfectly no matter what the weather is like outside.
Why Humidors are Important for Cigar Storage
Smoking cigars are a great way to pass time for anyone who enjoys the flavor. They’re known to be associated with the finer things in life. It takes a certain individual to smoke a cigar, and some individuals smoke them only for special occasions, while others simply enjoy the taste and action of smoking. Whatever the reason, anyone who does know how important it is to properly store and maintain them for maximum freshness, moisture, and flavor has one.
Purchasing a humidor from BnB Tobacco is a great investment because they protect the cigars from our environment. If you were to leave your cigars sitting on a table or in a desk drawer, they’d simply dry out. This is because the temperatures that’re comfortable to us, might be devastating to the cigars, which will cause them to become brittle and break.
Humidors are climate controlled and specially made for the storage of cigars. Recent models of humidors come equipped with gauges that measure the internal humidity and temperature. A humidor simulates the proper growing environment of tobacco, which needs the humidity level to stay between 70-75% while the temperature should stay between 68-70 degrees. When a humidor’s properly maintained, it provides an optimal environment for the cigars, and again helps to achieve maximum freshness and taste. Proper storage of your cigars will result in them lasting for years.
When choosing a humidor, there are many different colors, styles and sizes that’ll fit your storage needs. For individuals who’re avid cigar smokers, it may be best to have several humidors which can store away different flavors. Often when the box’s emptied of one flavor, subtle flavor notes are left behind, making it best to only use that box for that flavor. Adding different flavors together can have a negative effect on the flavor and puffing experience.
Buying a humidor won’t only protect those expensive cigars, but it’ll also make them last for a long time. This is an absolute buy and well worth the price for anyone who smokes cigars.