Cigar Humidors 101: The Basics of Storing Your Cigars
Cigar humidors are a kind of container that maintain a constant level of humidity to better preserve cigars, cigarettes and pipe tobacco. A majority of the time, small humidors are appropriate for most needs.
Most humidors features wood construction but can also be comprised of other materials such as glass, metal and plastic. Aside from looks, the whole purpose of the exterior is to protect the contents and maintain a constant environment. Usually, the interior features a Spanish-cedar wood veneer because Spanish-cedar holds more moisture than other woods, provides a pleasant aroma to stored cigars, repels tobacco beetles, wood is not prone to warping when exposed to high humidity.
Humidors are designed to maintain an ideal average relative humidity between 68-72%. Personal preference will allow you to vary beyond that range, but above 75% humidity can allow any tobacco beetle eggs to hatch. The less filled a humidor is, the easier it will be for the humidity to vary.
In most cases, humidifiers are passive that release stored humidity via water evaporation. Normally, a solution of 50% distilled water and 50% propylene glycol provides humidity and combats ambient air from altering internal humidity. This can also have mild antibacterial and antifungal properties. Distilled water contains no minerals, additives or bacteria that could potentially harm cigars.
Active electronic humidifiers can also be used but are more appropriate for larger humidors. A ventilator is activated when an exterior capacitive sensor detects a rise or fall of ambient humidity. This ventilator moves air over a water source to maintain a preset humidity level. This is a more accurate maintenance method because it reacts to needs as they arise. An alert can also be made in the event the water source is low or other mechanical failure occurs.
Silica gel beads have also been used to maintain humidity levels. These beads can absorb as well as release humidity to maintain relative humidity around 50%. It is more common to use silica gel as a way to reduce moisture from packaging. However, these beads can be specially formulated to meet specific humidity thresholds.
Seasoning has to be done for new or unused cigar humidors. Seasoning is the process of exposing interior wood to the desired level of humidity. This "breaking-in" period can take up to 3 days. Placing a container of distilled water or lightly soaked cloth can be used to season a humidor. Care must be taken not to directly dampen the wood as it may warp. If a humidor is unseasoned before cigars are introduced, it can actually draw moisture from the cigars thereby drying them out.
Temperature needs to be maintained for a number of reasons. The previously mentioned tobacco beetle eggs can hatch if the temperature rises above about 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Direct sunlight can cause temperature to rise above this limit an affect the flavor quality. If the temperature falls below 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit the cigar aging process becomes much less efficient. For that reason it is not advisable to keep cigar humidors in an extremely cold wine cellar or refrigerator for an extended period of time.
Types of Humidors
There are several types of humidors available for cigar aficionados to choose from. Here are just a few of the more popular humidor styles.
- Table humidors or cabinet humidors - These types of humidors are large pieces that are great for showing off your collection. They can hold thousands of cigars and are ideal for serious collectors.
- Portable humidors - This type of humidor is great for people on the go. It allows you to pack a few of your favorite cigars and easily transport them without damaging their flavor.
- Thermoelectric humidors - Unlike their compressor based counterparts, which wreak havoc on consistent humidity levels; thermoelectric humidors are ideal for providing temperature control, while still maintaining the proper humidity levels.
If you're looking for a new cigar cooler or humidor and have questions, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-734-0405 and we will be happy to help you.