If you are just a novice cigar smoker or an enthusiast who frequently purchase cigars, you either have purchased or are looking to purchase humidors for cigars. A
cigar humidor is a tightly sealed box where a micro climate is created to ensure a stable, relative humidity (RH).
Cigars require proper humidification to resemble the climate of the regions in which they are procured. Cigar humidors are constructed to preserve cigars at these optimal humidification conditions, which ideally falls between 68- 72% RH, or (65-70° Fahrenheit).
Over the years I have purchased several humidors for cigars, and I am enamored by the artistic appearance of a great humidor. You can look at your humidor as an extension of the furniture in your home or office, and they make great centerpieces.
You certainly want to establish a budget for how much you are willing to spend on quality humidors for cigars. Keep in mind, like most products we purchase, you more than likely get what you pay for. Based on your needs, cigar humidors can cost as low as $15 for a travel humidor, up to thousands of dollars for freestanding cabinets or antique models.
In this article, we’ll review different cigar humidor sizes based on your needs, structure of portable humidors, components of the humidor, and seasoning your humidor.
What Size Humidor Do I Need?
Perhaps before determining a budget, you would want to know what size humidor you need to store your cigars. Below we look at four categories of humidors, based on your needs.
Cigar size will alter the capacity of your humidor if you’re mixing Churchills, Gordos, Lanceros, etc. A rule of thumb to consider is to expect to fill your cigar humidor tro 70- 80% of capacity. Stuffing your humidor too much will cause the cigars to mix flavors over time. Conversely, you want to the capacity of your cigars above 50% to maintain proper humidification.
- Portable/ Travel Humidors: If you are cigar enthusiast who travel a lot, take cigars to the golf course, or just like carrying a few sticks with you at all times, it is beneficial to have a portable humidor. These humidors will typically carry a few, up to roughly a dozen cigars at a time. Portable humidor designs usually consist of wood board, acrylic glass, metal, wood, or leather materials.
- Personal Humidors: This size humidor is ideal if you possess only a few dozen cigars at a time. Common personal humidors come in sizes with a cigar capacity ranging from 50 to 100. There are smaller size (desktop) humidors that hold between 25- 40 cigars, but even the average cigar smoker may want to aim for at minimum, a 50- capacity box.
- Cabinet/ Table Humidors: If you have accumulated a few hundred to even thousands of cigars, then you would want to purchase these more expensive humidors for cigars. The humidors are larger and heavier than personal humidors, and can constitute as furniture.
- Room Humidor: Also referred to as a “walk-in” humidor, this kind of humidor is built in your home if you have that kind of money, or in cigar shop.
This section will reference portable, cabinet, and table humidors for cigars. When considering the purchase of a new humidor, you will want to inspect the construction of the humidor.
Most humidors will be constructed of veneer or solid wood. Solid wood is more aesthetic in appearance, but it will cost more. However, many of the higher quality veneer models are harder to distinguish from that of the solid wood models.
There shouldn’t be any chips or scratches in the humidor. A properly constructed humidor should have a tight seal when closed. One tactical method for checking the seal is to close the lid, take a fresh, crisp bill (any denomination) and try to slide the bill in the space between the lid and the base of the humidor. A quality humidor will also have brass hinges.
Also, you can place the bill on the front edge of the humidor and close the lid. You should not be able to easily pull the bill out. If you have trouble trying to get the bill between the crack, the seal is excellent. When closing the lid, you should hear a “Whoosh!!” sound.
Most humidors for cigars are lined with Spanish cedar, which is a fragrant wood that lends character to cigars. It is also ideal as it resists cracking as the wood contracts and expand over time. Thick Spanish cedar walls means better installation and stability for your cigars.
Some humidors have panels that are removable and extend above the top of the base, sometimes in tiered shelves. When the lid closes, it closes over the panels. Other humidor models have panels that rest flush with the top of the base with extended panels in the lid section which close inside the base of the humidor.
Humidor Components- Humidifiers
Most humidors for humidors come with a humidifier and a hygrometer serving as the humidor’s ecosystem. The better manufactures often include the right size humidifier, but sometimes that is not the case.
While there are several types of humidifiers, the Credo is among the most widely used . This device is essentially a plastic casing with little holes and a filled with a green sponge. The sponge is soaked in propylene glycol, a distilled water activation solution. The purpose of the solution is to both kill bacteria and help maintain a 70% relative humidity (RH).
The Credo type humidifier needs to be recharged with distilled water frequently and depending on the environmental climate, can vary from every week to every 2 weeks. The propylene glycol should be recharged every 6 months to a year.
Variations of the Credo type humidifier include the Western Humifier and Torpedo. These humidifiers undergo a special process during production so they only require to be recharged with distilled water. Propylene glycol is not necessary.
Electronic humidifiers are more reliable and require less maintenance than the passive sponge humidifiers. Usually all you need to do with electronic humidifiers is replace or refill the water cartridge every year. As an added bonus, many electronic humidifiers contain a filter to eliminate odors inside the humidor. For these reasons, they are the accessory of choice for large humidors and display cases.
If you’ve done everything right in terms of setting up your humidor (seasoning it), and your cigars tend to be dry, chances are the humidifier needs to be replaced.
Humidor Components- Hygrometers
Another humidor accessory is the hygrometer. If you want to know the exact RH inside your humidor you will need a hygrometer to check for changes in the humidity level. If the humidity dips below 65%, you will need to add distilled water to the humidifier.
There are often issues with analog hygrometers reading correctly. I find digital hygrometers to work better, although it will be an added expense to setting up your humidor. This doesn’t mean that digital hygrometers are 100% accurate, so you will still need to check the calibration on both analog and digital hygrometers.
It is also a nice idea to have a thermometer inside your humidor. Temperatures over 72º F (22º C) can make the cigars susceptible to a tobacco beetle infestation. Some digital hygrometers have an integrated thermometer, which can be very convenient.
Seasoning Your Humidor
After purchasing humidors for cigars, you will need to “season” (or prime) them to store your cigars at proper RH. We covered earlier in this article the components of a humidor. We will look at the materials needed to season the humidor and then cover step by step instructions. Keep in mind, your humidor should come with manufacturer instructions and you should adhere to them first.
Materials Needed for Seasoning a Humidor:
- A 1-gallon bottle of distilled water.
- A bottle of polyglycol solution
- A brand new kitchen sponge
- A large stainless steel or glass bowl
- A plastic sandwich bag
- Paper towels or a clean dish rag
Step 1: Prepare the Humidor Accessories
In review, most good cigar humidors include a humidifier and a hygrometer. The first thing you want to do is place the base for the humidifier under the humidor’s lid in the center. Make sure the hygrometer is properly calibrated, which will tell you how accurate your hygrometer is.
Next, place the base for the hygrometer away from the humidifier, usually in one of the top corners, or directly above the humidifier. Make sure you place it so the hygrometer doesn’t interfere with the lid when you close it.
The instructions on the pack are very easy to follow. This process will take the better part of 6 hours, which is why you want to start with calibration. Besides, you’ll need it for seasoning the box. Once it’s calibrated, put it in place under the lid.
Fill the humidifier with distilled water or polyglycol solution, only. If you have one of the rectangular shaped, green foam filled humidifiers, place it in a bowl, then shake the bottle of polyglycol solution and squeeze it into the humidifier. You want to squeeze it so that the solution is spilling out of it.
For a crystal-based humidifier, fill it to the top of the screen with distilled water only. You don’t need polyglycol solution for this type of unit. Crystal units are preferred over green foam models because they absorb much more water, last longer, and are resistant to mold.
Once the humidifier is completely saturated, turn it upside down and shake it over the bowl or sink to make sure all the water has been absorbed, then wipe the casing dry. Once you’re sure it is no longer dripping, put it in its place in the humidifier in the humidor.
Step 2: Seasoning the Humidor For Use
Once the hygrometer and humidifier are set, take distilled water and a new clean sponge or towel and wipe down the cedar lining of the inside of the humidor. Do not saturate the wood as it become damaged. If the humidor came with dividers and/or a top tray, you want to wipe them too.
Soak the kitchen sponge with distilled water and squeeze out just enough water so the sponge is still saturated and heavy, but not dripping. Then place the sponge on top of the plastic sandwich bag which will prevent leakage during the seasoning process.
Now close the humidor, then put it somewhere it won’t be disturbed. The humidor should sit for a minimum of three days, but you can even repeat this process for up to a week.
As the sponge evaporates, the cedar lining will absorb the liquid. The more moisture that is absorbed into the cedar lining, the better seasoned the humidor will be.
By this time the humidor should read between high 70- 80% range. At this point, remove the sponge and the plastic bag, close the lid, and let the box settle down to about 70% RH, then add the cigars. Give it another couple of days to settle down between 68- 72%. Your cigars are now ready to enjoy!!
Final Considerations When Choosing Humidors For Cigars
By now we hope you’re now encouraged to make purchasing humidors for cigars part of your cigar experience. When shopping for a humidor, it’s important to choose a model that offers quality in every element of its design: the lid, hinges, seal, and wood.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for when shopping humidors for cigars. Don’t be afraid to spend a
little more money on an expensive model as those will typically last a lifetime, and if you’re serious about collecting cigars and keeping them fresh, the extra money spent will be a solid investment.
Here are some final considerations when purchasing humidors for cigars…
- Try to keep your humidor filled with cigars to at least 50% capacity
- RH should fall between 68 and 72%
- Try to keep the inside humidor temperature at about 65 to 70-degrees
- Do not place the humidor in a room that’s prone to wide swings in tempeture
- Check your humidifier and hygrometer at least every two to three weeks