Over the course of building my cigar collection, I have amassed a sizable humidor that has helped keep every piece well-guarded against the dry region in which I reside. It’s a hobby that has become popular throughout the world.
A beginner can quickly build up their collection in record time now, thanks to the online world. But as the novice smoker will find out very quickly, cigars tend to go bad fast when left out in the open. And this is where humidors come into fruition. Humidors maintain the proper humidity that’s needed for cigars before they are smoked. They keep the leaves moisturized and prevent premature drying.
There are fewer things worse than smoking a stale cigar, other than having one that’s molded. It’s something that can occur when humidors aren’t properly seasoned before use. This guide will show you how to season a humidor correctly, listing all the things you’ll need to have with you before getting started. There’s lots of misinformation on the internet that incorrectly teaches the right way to do this, and the steps below will clear things up to ensure that you end up with perfectly humidified cigars.
What you need to get Started
Seasoning your humidor is a task that could take as little as one day or up to several days the finish. But before you begin, there are a few items that you’re going to need to follow the guidelines accordingly. Here are the objects that you need to check off your list first:
- Humidor: Although it’s stating the obvious, you’ll need to have the actual humidor to begin seasoning. But the reason it’s included here is to inform you of cases that are used. In plain terms, don’t! Always start fresh when you’re going to season the humidor by-the-book. Attempting to do this with one that’s already been humidified could lead to irreversible damage to your cigars. As you look for a new humidor, be sure that the lid forms an airtight seal. And remember to order a size that you think will accommodate the number of cigars you anticipate to place into it.
- Humidifier: Most humidifiers are included with the humidor itself, so looking for one won’t be necessary for most people. But if you don’t have it included with the case, ensure it’s not too big or small. It should fit in a specifically made location to house the piece, usually underneath the lid.
- Propylene Glycol: Propylene glycol solution is usually sold in a plastic bottle and helps to naturally regular the humidity in your humidor. Some are concentrated, while others must be blended with distilled water. Check the packaging to know before you buy. The solution absorbs into the lining of the humidor, shielding the case from mold growth. While there are ways to season a humidor without it, getting propylene glycol is highly recommended.
- Distilled Water: Water that’s distilled doesn’t contain hard minerals that could rot or lead to mold growth in your humidor. It can be bought at nearly any grocery or convenience store, so get a bottle before you begin the process. You don’t have to chill it; keep the water at room temperature.
- Electronic or Analog Hygrometer: This tool gauges the humidity in your humidor. Without it, keeping your cigars at the proper level of moisture would be much more difficult. While calibration is suggested, most manufacturers ship them pre-calibrated. Still, follow these guidelines if you insist on double-checking.
- Small Glass Cup: The glass cup is for holding the distilled water once placed inside the humidor. If you have a large case, use a larger glass. For smaller humidors, cups less than 12 ounces should suffice.
Pro Tip: A sponge is one alternative that you could use if you’re unable to acquire the propylene glycol. However, I do not recommend that you do so unless it’s absolutely necessary. It will be slightly more difficult to keep your humidor at the necessary moisture level (around 70 degrees, to be exact), and could take longer to reaches this level during the seasoning process.
Once you’ve gathered up everything that you’ll need to season your humidor, the process can begin. It’s not as hard as some make it out to be. Just follow the directions carefully, and it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll end up with better-than-expected results.
In the meantime, if there are any cigars that you have lying around, place them in a cool place that’s away from dry heat. After you’re finished seasoning, you could restore their moisture, so don’t worry about them getting stale too much. For those with no cigars, wait until the humidity is nearly finished, then look for smokes. So without further delay, let’s get started.
Step 1: Take Everything out of the Humidor
The Humidor should have nothing on the inside when you first begin. Get rid of any labels or other papers that were included inside the packaging. If you notice any dirt or dust inside the humidor, find a clean and dry cloth to wipe down the interior. You don’t have to scrub it but ensure no debris of any king shows anywhere on the wood. If you have a glass panel on the lid, it should be completely transparent so that you’ll be able to see the inside of the humidor, something that could help greatly if you plan on carrying the case after you’ve placed the glass of distilled water inside later.
Pro Tip: Do NOT wipe down the humidor with a sponge. Doing so could damage the entire case and necessitate purchasing a new one altogether. You may have read or seen videos of people telling you to do this. If too much water gets on the inside, you’ll never be able to regulate the humidity well, and mold could also develop in the corners of the humidor. Additionally, warping may regress the wood to a state that renders the humidor unable to keep the cigar fresh and bitter their taste. In short, stay far away from coating the wood with any distilled water. The propylene glycol will strengthen the wood good enough to where there won’t be a need to attempt this during the seasoning.
Step 2: Prepare the Humidifier
Take your humidifier and fill it with propylene glycol solution. As mentioned in the previous section, check the label to see if you need to add distilled water. If not, pour in the amount that’s specified in its instructions. When you’re done with that, take the glass cup and pour in distilled water; you don’t have to fill it to the top. It should be about 1/2 or 3/4 full.
If you want a smaller glass, feel free to use one. More water could mean a quicker seasoning time, but it’s heavily dependent on how large your humidor is. After this is done, put the humidifier into the bottom of the humidor and add the glass. It doesn’t matter where you put them, but if there’s lots of space, consider adding the glass on one side and the humidifier on the other.
When you have completed these steps, turn on the humidor hygrometer (if you have a digital one) and close the lid. Take a flat piece of paper (preferably a dollar bill) and add it between the lid and the lower portion of the humidor. Pull at the paper slightly. If it doesn’t move, that means you have a perfect seal around the top. No air should come in or out.
Pro Tip: If you’re using a sponge, soak it with distilled water and gently ring it out over a sink. It should be brand new and never used on any surfaces before. You don’t want your humidor to smell bad, so remember that dirty sponges are a no-no. Place the sponge on a small porcelain plate and set inside.
Step 3: Leave-in The Coolest portion of Your Home.
Humidity in your home can fluctuate with the changing seasons. It also depends on where you live. Places that are warm and dry for most of the year will probably cause your humidor to reach the desired temperature a lot longer than places with more moisture in the air. Those with room humidifiers would see their humidors season quicker.
Regardless, set it in the coolest part of your home, somewhere that you won’t accidentally brush it over when moving close by. Remember, there’s a glass filled with water inside, so be just as careful when picking it up and moving. If you spill a little water underneath the glass, quickly wipe it up with a clean and dry cloth, changing glasses if needed.
Step 4: Check Periodically
This is the part where things are easiest. A properly seasoned humidor could take anywhere from 72 hours to a little over a week to get at the correct humidity level. The ideal reading should be 70 percent. If you’re in a very humid environment, you could get away with 65 percent, but your cigars may not moisten on the inside completely.
For more moisture, go no higher than 73 percent. If you stay within these boundaries, you shouldn’t have any problems once you’re ready to add the cigars inside.
Step 5: Adding Cigars
Once the humidor is at the correct humidity level, take out the distilled water, glass, or alternative sponge. There should be no traces or puddles of water anywhere on the inside. Place the humidifier in its proper position and get your cigars ready. For those that you plan on smoking very soon, you don’t have to remove the plastic. Aging should always be done with no cellophane, so remove it if there’s anything you intend to keep for a while. Doing this helps the cigars take it the moisture better, and aid breathability.
That’s it! If you followed the steps well, you’d be ready to smoke your manicured cigars in no time. But patience is key here, and try to avoid rushing any of the steps listed so that nothing gets damaged in the process. Humidors are susceptible objects, and the more you care for them, the better results you’ll be left at the end. You will notice that your smokes taste great, have no bitterness, and burn at an acceptable rate than those stored in a humidor that hasn’t been properly seasoned.
Maintaining and keeping your cigars fresh isn’t an easy thing to do, especially for new ones to set up a humidor. Knowing this, how did you enjoy the steps given? Were they easy to follow? There are so many minor pieces required to make the humidors operate as desired, and it’s a job that won’t end in one sitting.
You’ll have to pamper it until your case is enhanced for any sort of smoke you want to begin a collection. Soon enough, your humidor will begin to work for you, operating on its own with little need to check anything at a rate that more than what’s necessary. Electronic humidors could help with this even more, so consider getting one if you’re looking for an upgrade before starting seasoning.
I’d love to hear what you thought about the article and look forward to any feedback in the comments. Feel free to give any additional tips that you think deserve mentioning. And if this was helpful to you, please share and send it to your friends!