Cigars are not only one of life’s wonderful pleasures; they can be a real investment. Quality cigars can be priced into the hundreds of dollars and, unfortunately, they are most definitely perishable. A humidor or other types of cigar humidifiers protect your investment, and future smoking pleasure. Improper cigar storage or improper humidor care and maintenance can render cigar humidors no better than an ordinary shoebox for your beloved stogies.
- Cigar Hygrometer – come in digital or analogue varieties, measures the moisture content of your humidor, and obviously your cigars. But not all hygrometers are the same. In fact, many are remarkably inaccurate (more on testing them later). A Cigar hygrometer is a key part of proper cigar storage, so go for quality when selecting this piece of equipment, especially if you’re building a humidor.
- Humidor Humidifier – perhaps the most important piece of your storage system. Like cigar hygrometers, humidor humidifiers vary in quality, but there are only two types.
Active Humidification Devices: operate electrically and put moisture into the air with the help of a sensor. Designed more for a large cigar humidor, cabinet or room.
Passive Humidification Devices: usually a holed housing that contains an absorbent material such as sponge, foam or clay, and uses a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and propylene glycol. Silica gel beads are another popular, arguably more reliable option, but all need to be replaced or refreshed regularity.
- Cigar Humidor: the moisture tight box that holds your cigars and humidification system. Ideally they are made from wood and lined with Spanish cedar.
- Test your cigar hygrometer
Fill the cap of a soda bottle with water and salt until the mixture is slushy. It’s important not to add so much water that you dissolve the salt. Place the cap and your cigar hygrometer in a food storage bag that can be sealed airtight. After 6 hours, check the readout on your hygrometer; it should be at 75 percent if it’s accurate. If the readout percentage differs, calibrate the hygrometer to match. If your hygrometer can’t be calibrated, take note of the difference and apply it to your readings in the future. If the discrepancy is large, it may be time to purchase a new hygrometer. This test should be repeated every 6 months.
- Test your humidor’s seal
Over time and use, your humidor may not close as snuggly as it once did, which may affect its ability to maintain a consistent humidity level. If you notice sharp humidity fluctuations, you might need to tighten the fit of your humidor when closed. Felt, wood or even Velcro can be used around the lip of a humidor to improve its seal.
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- Treat the lining
Every 6 months, remove your cigars and give the humidor lining a light rubbing of distilled water. This procedure should also be performed when you first purchase a humidor. Return your cigars after the water has been visibly absorbed. Careful to note the humidity level – it may be unusually high for a time after this process.
- Check, refill or replace humidor humidifier
If you’re using an active humidifier, test the censor by placing it in an area of low humidity. Also ensure the misting mechanism is functioning and free from deposits. For passive humidor humidifiers, check the level of distilled water and/or propylene glycol and refill as needed. You should replace a propylene glycol based unit every 6 months. If your unit uses silica gel beads, check the amount of remaining beads. Silica beads dissolve and need to be added frequently to maintain consistent humidity.
Also consider where you have your humidor placed. Ideally, you want it in an area free from drafts or temperature fluctuations.
There’s nothing better than a good cigar. Maintain your humidor and experience that sublime pleasure.