If you want to keep your cigars fresh over the long haul, you need a humidor.
The problem with a new humidor, or one you haven’t used in a while, is that it will rob your stogies of their humidity – this is the opposite of what you want to happen.
The cedar wood on the inside of the humidor acts as a humidifier. Unfortunately, if it hasn’t been seasoned, then it will dry out your sticks rather than keeping them fresh. So, using a humidor before it has been seasoned is unadvisable.
What can you do to season your humidor? Here are the steps you need to follow.
Before You Do Anything Else, Check The Manufacturer’s Instructions
Improper care of your humidor could void your warranty. The manufacturer may have specific instructions for you to follow, or they may caution you against certain actions. Before doing anything else, familiarize yourself with their instructions.
Also note: These instructions are helpful when it comes to seasoning your humidor, but if you want to keep your warranty, you should be aware of what the instructions say.
Wipe Down Your Humidor With Distilled Water
When seasoning your humidor, you’ll need some distilled water. Do not use tap water in place of distilled water, because it can leave mineral deposits.
Use a clean (and new) sponge or cloth to wipe down the cedar wood inside the humidor – including the lid, trays, and dividers if applicable.
Go easy on the water. Using too much can end up damaging the humidor. Do not pour water into the humidor and then spread it around. Simply use a moderately damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the cedar.
However, very high-end humidors made by companies such as Elie Bleu do NOT recommend wiping the interior because it can cause the finely-sanded interior to become rough.
Place The Sponge Inside The Humidor
Place it on top of a plastic bag or in a bowl. The sponge should not be dripping wet, and should not be touching the wood. Make sure that water does not drip onto the interior wood. You will be checking this sponge later to see if your humidor is humidifying properly.
Place Your Humidification Device Inside The Humidor
Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see whether your humidification device takes distilled water or a separate humidifying solution. Fill it, but do not let it get oversaturated. Let excess fluid drip into your sink and then absorb excess water by laying it on a paper towel before using. When ready, place the device inside your humidor.
Wait 24 Hours & Repeat
Close your humidor and wait for 24 hours while it seasons. After 24 hours, you’ll want to wipe it down again with distilled water. You’ll also want to wait at least another 24 hours after you’ve wiped the inside of the humidor, but this time don’t leave the sponge inside (check it to see if it’s still damp) unless the humidity has not yet increased by 5% from the previous day.
Check For Any Dampness In Your Humidor
Check your hygrometer to see if your humidor is now at least 65% after the second 24-hour wait period. If not, leave it for another day. Otherwise, it should be ready for use with your cigars. You will simply need to repeat the above processes until your humidor reaches at least 65%. It can take anywhere from two to seven days or more to properly season your humidor. Have patience during this process. You want to get the humidor to somewhere between 65-70% before placing your cigars in the humidor so that you don't run into issues later.
Note: You may need to test your hygrometer for accuracy and/or recharge your humidification device to ensure you’re getting accurate readings. The Boveda One-Step Hygrometer Calibration Kit is the best on the market for this. It is a very common occurrence that people use a hygrometer that is not calibrated correctly and they get mixed signals about the actual humidity level in their humidor. This leads to frustration and possibly damaged cigars.
Why Does A Humidor Need To Be Seasoned?
If your humidor is not seasoned, it will dry out your cigars instead of preserving them for future use. Since your cigarcollection may include some expensive or premium stogies, letting them dehydrate would be unfortunate, and a waste of precious money. Cigars that are left outside of a humidor will immediately begin losing their moisture and dry out. It takes n\o time at all for a cigar to become brittle and leave you with a poor smoking experience.
If you buy your humidor online, it’s possible it won’t come with any instructions connected to seasoning. So, it’s best to be aware of the process we outline here if you want to use a humidor for its intended purpose.
Why Do I Need To Use Distilled Water Specifically?
Tap water can leave mineral deposits such as calcium and magnesium on your cigars. This can cause unwanted odors, plug up your humidifier, and worst of all, give your cigars a bad flavor. This is not a problem with distilled water that you can buy very reasonably at your local grocery store.
Does A Humidor Need To Be Seasoned More Than Once?
You may need to re-season your humidor periodically to maintain humidity levels. If you find yourself having to re-season more than annually, it may be time for a new humidor.
Use your hygrometer to keep an eye on humidity levels, make sure your hygrometer is properly calibrated, and don’t forget to charge your humidifier as often as needed. You may also want to use 1 ounce of a propylene glycol solution once every six months in your humidifier to keep mold away and help regulate humidity. Daniel Marshall specidfically recommends this for their humidors.
Is The Above Method The Best Way To Season A Humidor?
While it is time-efficient, the “wipe down” method isn’t perfect. If you oversaturate the humidor’s wood with water, it can end up warping. If your humidor is made of Spanish cedar, you should be aware that it absorbs water even more readily than standard cedar, making it more susceptible to warping. If the wood in your humidor warps, it may not seal properly, and will eventually lose moisture, again drying out your cigars.
Note: Spanish cedar is the ideal wood for keeping cigars properly humidified. If you use the “wipe down” method, you’ll want to be careful not to overuse water. Check the instructions that came with your humidor because some manufacturers do NOT recommend wiping the interior, while other manufacturers will tell you to do so. It depends on how the Spanish Cedar was processed.
Are There Any Seasoning Kits That Simplify The Seasoning Process?
Yes, there are many products available for seasoning your humidor. Some may take longer to work than the process described above. You may also end up spending a little more time and money if you use a starter kit. On the upside, these types of kits are generally convenient and easy to use. For example, Boveda sells very easy-to-use seasoning packets that you place in your humidor and wait two weeks for the seasoning to occur. With this method you do not need to wipe down the interior or fill the humidifiers with water.
Your humidor plays an important role in maintaining the moisture, flavor, and life of your cigars. If you want it to protect your stogies, you will need to season it before use, using the above method, or another safe method such as the one recommended by the manufacturer. You should default to the manufacturer's instructions.
Another thing to watch out for is your humidifier and lid. So long as these two components are cared for, your cigars should last for a long time to come.
Keep your cigars in the best condition possible by seasoning your humidor before use.