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Making Your Humidor Work for You

By: Lindsay Heller

While they exist to keep our cigars in optimal condition for smoking and aging, humidors can also cause confusion when it comes to their setup and maintenance. Your cigars are made with a lot of TLC, so as long as you extend some of that care to your humidor, you'll be quite pleased with the results. 

Setting up your Humidor
Regardless of its shape or size, humidors are designed to store your cigars at a level of humidity optimal for smoking. Choose a place in your home (or office) where ht temperature is comfortable and steady—ideally 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit—and not close to a source of direct heat or sunlight. The cigar tobacco has already been fermented, so no need to heat it any further!

Prior to officially seasoning your humidor, you'll want to make sure you have everything necessary on-hand. Although size and materials are the two factors that most often affect the time it will take, it's important you don't fill your humidor before it is ready.

Here's What You'll Need:

  • Hygrometer
  • Humidification Unit
  • Propylene Glycol Solution
  • Large Bowl
  • Seasoning Wipes
  • Clean Plastic Bottle Cap
  • Salt
  • Zippered Bag
  • Distilled Water (optional)

STEP 1: CALIBRATE THE HYGROMETER
Whether analog or digital, you need to make sure your hygrometer can accurately gauge levels of relative humidity (RH), so use the Salt Test for the best results. Take your clean, plastic bottle cap and place a teaspoon of salt inside before adding a few drops of water to create a pasty mixture. Place the cap inside a Ziploc bag with your hygrometer, seal it, and let the bag sit for six to eight hours; in the end, your hygrometer should read 75% after completing the text.

STEP 2: SOAK THE HUMIDIFICATION UNIT
Place your humidification unit into an appropriately-sized bowl, and fill it with propylene glycol solution. You can use distilled water in the absence of a product like HUMI-CARE's Cigar Juice, propylene glycol is recommended as its viscosity prevents over-saturation. Shake off the unit to purge it of excess solution, and place it on the inner-roof of your humidor.

NOTE: If you're using a crystal-based humidifier such as a HUMI-CARE Jar, please be aware the crystals will not arrive activated. You will still need to use enough solution (or distilled water) so the crystals will expand, properly dispensing humidity once inside.

STEP 3: PREP THE INSIDE OF YOUR HUMIDOR
If worried about the classic method of soaking a sponge in distilled water and leaving it in your humidor potentially damaging the wood, I highly recommend HUMI-CARE Seasoning Wipes. Most medium-sized humidors will need two wipes, but larger capacity units will require up to four. 

Take the wipes out of their packaging and wipe down the interior of your humidor. With your hygrometer set inside, close the lid, and wait 24-hours prior to opening to check the level of RH. If you get a reading of 75% to 80% RH, you can safely put cigars inside; although this level is slightly higher than what you'll normally want, your cigars will absorb the bit of excess humidity without incurring any damage.

STEP 4: FILLING YOUR HUMIDOR
Don't make the mistake of over-filling your humidor, as the humidity will circulate more freely if you have 15%-20% vacant space. If you enjoy infused tobacco as well as traditional cigars, store them separately: the longer you store both inside the same space, you will start to notice unpleasant nuances on your palate.

STEP 5: MAINTENANCE
The level of RH you'll want to maintain will be anywhere between 65% to 72%, and determining what works for you will take time. For me personally, I tend to smoke cigars with a higher concentration of natural oils, so my humidors are kept anywhere from 67% to 69% RH. 

If you don't smoke frequently, set a reminder to check your humidor to verify the RH is within the recommended range. Should it fall into the low 60s, grab more of your propylene glycol and refill your humidification unit. Another pro-tip would be rotating your cigars, as you don't want the same sticks living at the bottom (or top) of your humidor. I'd advise rotating once or twice a month, that way you can closely monitor the RH as well as your cigars regardless of the frequency at which you smoke.

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