You want your stogies to stay fresh.
After all, you’ve probably put good money into them. Plus, you want them to be moist and ready for your next social gathering or special occasion.
If you have a large collection of cigars, naturally you want to be able to show them off to your friends without them going bad on you without your knowledge.
By now, you’ve probably figured out that you need a humidor to hold and maintain your cigars. And, you may even own one or two.
But did you know that your humidor requires maintenance? Though it won’t require a lot of work on your part, if you want to rely on it to keep your cigars fresh, you’re going to need to look after it.
Here are some tips on how to maintain your humidor.
Before You Do Anything Else, Season Your Humidor
When you purchase a new humidor, or you’re looking to use one you haven’t touched in a while, it should be seasoned and here's how to do so (unless the accompanying instructions state otherwise).
After seasoning, the cedar wood inside your humidor will absorb moisture. This is what allows you to keep your stogies fresh. A humidor that hasn’t been seasoned will have the opposite effect of drying out your cigars, removing their oils, and ultimately ruining them. Ruining your cigars is the last thing you want, and it defeats the purpose of owning a humidor to begin with.
There are several different approaches to seasoning, and again it’s best to tailor your approach to the specific humidor (or humidors) you own. Reading the instructions, talking to the manufacturer, asking the advice of the seller, or watching online videos are all steps you can take to ensure you’re not doing anything to damage your humidor.
Here are a couple of common approaches to seasoning:
- Use a new sponge and distilled water to lightly wipe the inside of the humidor. In some cases, this can warp the inside of the humidor and cause it to not close properly. Some manufacturer's recommend this while others explicitly say not to. Always check your instruction manual first.
- Fill a small dish with distilled water and place it inside your humidor. Close the lid and wait a couple of days. Check the humidity level. If it has reached 65-70%, remove the small dish. Put distilled water or propylene glycol solution in your humidification device and install it in your humidor. Keep an eye on your humidor for a couple of days to make sure it has leveled off around 70% (plus or minus 5%) so you can begin storing your cigars in it.
You shouldn’t need to season your humidor again, unless you stop using it for a while. As stated earlier, a humidor that hasn’t been used in a while should be re-seasoned.
Once Seasoned, Maintain The Humidity Levels Of Your Humidor
The reason your cigars stay fresh in a humidor is because it’s humid on the inside. But it’s not truly humid on the inside unless you’re doing the right things.
First, it’s important to recognize there is a certain “sweet spot” with regards to both temperature and humidity levels.
Some sources have it at 65 to 74%, while others have it at 62 to 75%. Basically, if the humidity is somewhere in that range, it should be keeping well. You certainly don’t want the humidity to be much higher, and if it’s lower, you’ll need to add distilled water or solution to the humidifier.
It’s a good idea to have a hygrometer and/or thermometer so you can keep control over the temperature and humidity levels. Some humidors have built-in hygrometers/thermometers.
It’s advisable to check the humidity levels in your humidor every two weeks. If you see it go below 65%, then add more distilled water or PG Solution to the humidifier (also refer to the instructions that came with your humidifier for best practices). Do not use tap water unless the instructions explicitly state that you should, as it can clog your humidifier and cause it to malfunction. For the most part, tap water isn’t used with humidifiers because it contains minerals and chlorine, which will clog your humidifier.
When adding distilled water or PG Solution, ensure that your humidor isn’t dripping by drying off the surface.
While you’re at it, check your equipment. Is your humidifier working properly? How about your hygrometer/thermometer? If these items are faulty, it may prove challenging to keep your humidor at optimal temperature and humidity levels. The best way to know if your hygrometer is working properly is to use this Boveda kit to test your hygrometer for very little cost. It's well worth the price to save you from worrying if your hygrometer has lost its calibration and is over- or under-stating the true humidity level.
Store Your Humidor In The Right Place
How you store your humidor also plays an important role in its maintenance. Try to keep it in a dry, cool environment to prevent mold. Do not place your humidor in direct sunlight, as your cigars can develop fungus or become infested by tobacco beetles if temperatures and humidity levels get too high. The temperature in the room should be somewhere between 65-70 degrees.
Also check to ensure your cigars do not block the vents when placed inside your humidor.
In summary, there are a few considerations when it comes to maintaining your humidor.
First, it’s important to season your humidor. Regardless of how you go about this process (check for best practices based on your specific humidor), this is what allows your stogies to stay moist and fresh. Not seasoning your humidor could damage your cigars and cause them to dry out, which is the opposite of what you ultimately want.
Second, check the humidity levels in your humidor every couple of weeks. As it drops beneath 70%, pay careful attention. You’ll need to add distilled water or a specialty solution to the humidor to keep it in working order. Also check to ensure your hygrometer/thermometer is still working and isn’t giving you false readings.
Third, keep your humidor in a cool and dry place. Don’t put it in direct sunlight. When you place your cigars in the humidor, make sure they don’t cover the vents.
Finally, best practices can vary depending on the size, make, and brand of your humidor, so take some time to educate yourself.
If you follow these basic steps and take good care of your humidor, you shouldn’t encounter any problems, and you’ll be able to enjoy the freshness of a good smoke when the occasion arises.