A humidor is simply a storage box used for cigars and tobacco pipes to maintain the humidity level and temperature. Some cigar aficionados may purchase a readily available humidor, but the rest may want to customize their own humidors. In either case, it’s important to ensure that you get the proper humidity level inside at around 70% RH. Otherwise, you might end up wasting all your money and effort in buying your cigars and humidors.
Humidors come in many types made from different materials of various styles. If you don’t get the correct humidity level or it often changes inside your humidor, it can affect the flavor and aroma of your cigars. If humidity is too low, it could dry up and age the cigars quickly. But if humidity is too high, mold could develop inside the humidor.
A lot of the modern humidors come with a digital hygrometer to measure the relative humidity more accurately. But how do you maintain the right humidity and temperature? We’ll answer your questions below.
Ideal Humidity for Humidor
For those who smoke cigars, a humidor is a helpful tool to retain the flavor and aroma of cigars by keeping them moist. It protects cigars from pests and allows them to age well even when stored for long. Humidors come in different materials and styles, but one thing in common among all of them is the need for proper humidity.
To maintain the right conditions for cigars and tobacco, the humidity inside your humidor must be kept within the range of 62% to 74%. Usually, you can settle for 70%, giving leeway for small inaccuracies in the hygrometer. Additionally, you need a temperature of about 70°F in the humidor.
The actual humidity in your humidor depends on some factors, including the materials used for the humidor, the type and quality of cigars, and the number of cigars you are storing. Whether you use a store bought cigar box or make one, it is most important to get an accurate hygrometer and thermometer as the first step to maintain the humidity levels inside and protect your cigars. These devices measure the relative humidity and temperature, respectively, and you need them inside the humidor.
Low humidity can dry out cigars. On the other hand, storing your cigars in a humidor with high levels of humidity may burn the cigars slowly. It can also affect the quality of cigars, giving them an acidic taste.
The humidity levels inside your cigar box may be a result of external factors. For instance, low humidity outside results in low humidity inside. Likewise, high humidity outside results in high humidity inside.
How to Increase Humidity in a Cigar Humidor
Remember that you need about 70% relative humidity inside your humidor. In most cases, you need to maintain humidity levels no lower than 60% to keep your cigar collection moist. Otherwise, low humidity dries them out and alters the taste and construction. Three days is the longest a cigar can be stored without a humidor before it starts to dry out.
If the humidity level is too low inside the humidor, you must first ensure that the hygrometer has been calibrated accordingly. Before using the humidor, it must also be moistened. You may need to refill the humidifier inside with distilled water.
It’s normal for the humidity levels to decrease after putting dry cigars in the humidor for the first time. Humidity levels should stabilize in the humidor within a few days. Likewise, opening the cigar humidor may reduce the humidity within the box for a short time.
In case the relative humidity level decreases after using the humidor for a long time, the humidification system might be defective. If you use tap water, the pores of the sponge may be clogged, preventing absorption of the water.
To rehydrate your dry cigars in the humidor, wet a paper towel and clean the inside of the humidor. Add water to the humidifier if necessary to help achieve desired humidity levels quicker. Make sure to shut the humidor lid tightly and avoid opening it too frequently to keep the moisture inside. If even small amounts of dry air sneaks in, you may face low humidity issues.
You may also opt for a humidor regulator to help add moisture inside. Just remember to replace it once every 14 days or as often as needed. You can rehydrate a dry cigar after a few days or weeks by placing it inside a properly seasoned humidor. But whether you have a humidor or not, you can rehydrate a dried out cigar, although it might only take a longer time.
How to Decrease Humidity in a Cigar Humidor
A humidor is typically kept at a higher humidity level than is recommended for indoor spaces, but there are cases when the humidity rises way above the optimal range. If this happens, it can result in the growth of mold inside your humidor. If your cigars become too moist, you may experience difficulties while lighting and it might even be put off on its own. You may also have problems cutting an opening in the cigar before smoking it due to too much moistness. To prevent these problems, it’s essential to control increased humidity levels just as much as low humidity levels.
If the humidity in the humidor is too high, you must first ensure that the hygrometer has been calibrated properly, the humidifier has been filled, and the inside of the humidor is moist before using it. If you notice that the inside is too damp, the first step in decreasing humidity is to open the humidor lid so that a certain amount of moisture can escape out of the box, reducing the humidity levels instantly. For even faster drying, you may expose the box to direct sunlight.
In contrast to increasing the humidity levels, you must reduce water from the humidifier or remove the regulator to decrease humidity levels. Although, in most cases, you can keep the humidor regulator beads inside the box to maintain humidity levels. They have the purpose to either absorb excess humidity or release more moisture to the humidor in order to regulate humidity levels.
In the case that mold grows inside an excessively humid cigar box, there are some steps you can take. You must first check to make sure there is mold growing in your humidor. If you see marks on the cigars that appear powdery in white or light gray in color, these are a part of normal process of aging premium cigars. Also called cigar plume, it does not alter the quality of your cigar.
However, if you find blue or green marks on the surface of the cigar, this is more than likely mold that grows from the inside of the cigar. You may also notice a musty smell if there is mold growth. Mold is a fungus that grows in high humidity and feeds off of organic materials. Remove the infected cigars before the mold can spread to the rest of the humidor. You must throw out these infected cigars as they are no longer safe for smoking.
Afterwards, clean the humidor with a damp cloth to remove any remaining mold. There is usually no need for any cleaning solvent. You must also clean the humidifying instrument with warm water, or replace it in case there is also mold growth in it.
Factors That Affect Humidity Levels in Humidor
Many factors can affect the humidity levels inside a humidor, some of which are external and out of your control. For instance, the climate in your region determines the humidity and temperature outdoors as well as indoors. Other factors that may affect the humidity in the humidor is exposure to direct sunlight, adequate ventilation and air circulation, and the use of heaters and air conditioners.
To maintain proper humidity levels consistently, you must avoid placing your humidors anywhere that gets good sunlight or directly under heat and air vents. It’s best if you get a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. If you purchase a ready-made humidor, it usually comes with a humidifying device included. But, in case you find this device lacking, or you want to make your own humidors at home, you can do so with a wooden box or almost any airtight container.
Choose a container with enough space for all your cigars and humidifier. Take a clean sponge and soak it with distilled water (or tap water if distilled is not available). Place the wet sponge inside the box and make sure it’s not dripping. You also have the option to line the container with a spanish cedar to give your cigars a pleasant aroma. Lastly, insert a hygrometer or thermometer where you can easily see it to check the humidity and temperature.
If it keeps drying out too fast, try keeping your humidor in a room with a bit more moisture, or add a humidifier in the room. Something like a water bottle humidifier can be an interesting fit for smaller spaces.
Overall, it shouldn’t be too hard to adjust the humidity levels in your humidor. If it has a gauge, make sure to keep the humidor’s humidity level around 70% or within 62% to 74%, and maximum temperature of about 70°F. Cigar lovers may be able to taste a difference in case there is a humidity problem in the cigar box. Too little or too much moisture can alter the taste and aroma and overall quality of your cigars. Whether or not you have a hygrometer and thermometer installed, always check to make sure the right conditions are maintained.
The steps above will help you increase or decrease the humidity levels in your humidor as necessary. You may also make your own humidor using a wooden box, Tupperware, ice chest, or any similar container with a tightly fitting lid.