If you are looking to enter the marvelous world of cigar appreciation, you are probably considering getting a humidor. You are not wrong: Experienced cigar enthusiasts know very well that having a good humidor to keep them in is a must. I must admit that it took me a long time of ruining good cigars to come to that conclusion. Yes, at one point in my life, I was a humidor-less man. Guilty as charged. I came around, however, when my friend gave me a cigar from a box I had given him as a present about a year earlier. To my surprise, it tasted as fresh as new. “How?”, I asked. The response? A humidor, of course.
There are a few important advantages to using a humidor. For one, a humidor will allow you to store your cigar collection in a safe and organized manner. What is more, a good element will provide the right amount of humidity and maintain it at a steady level. The right amount of humidity will keep each cigar nice and fresh for prolonged periods of time. Before filling it with cigars, however, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how your humidor works. With that in mind, this guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to set up and use a humidor.
Setting Up Your Humidor
Before being able to use and enjoy a new humidor, you will need to set it up correctly. Don’t worry, though, as the setup process is not too complicated or difficult. Don’t do like I did the first few times, though, and try to skip steps. Instead, make sure to be thorough when getting your humidor up and ready. Each step of the setup process is essential for getting a good performance out of the device.
Seasoning Your Humidor
If you are anything like me, the temptation to fill your humidor with your favorite cigar collection as soon as you get home will be enormous. Be sure not to do so, however, as this will almost surely ruin your cigars. The reason for this is that, at this point in time, the kiln-dried Spanish Cedar that the humidor is made will not have had a chance to achieve a balanced level of humidity. If you use a humidor before it has reached 65% humidity, its wood will (quite literally) suck the humidity out of your cigars. As a result, your precious collection will be either partially or completely ruined. To season your humidor, follow these simple steps:
- Step 1: First, submerge the humidifier fully in distilled water. Make sure all of it is submerged in the water. Do not use water or any other kind as it may contain minerals and other substances capable of damaging the element. Keep it submerged for up to three minutes.
- Step 2: Remove the humidifier from the bowl and remove all excess water. Dry it using a clean absorbent fabric.
- Step 3: Like the bottom of the interior of your humidor with a plastic bag. Be thorough and precise, making sure the bottom is completely covered.
- Step 4: After dampening it with distilled water, place a sponge on top of the plastic bag that’s lining the bottom of the humidor.
- Step 5: Place the humidifier and the hygrometer in the humidor.
- Step 6: Close the lid of the humidor. Leave it closed for at least 12 hours. If you can leave it for a few days, do so.
- Step 7: Check the hygrometer to check out the level of humidity in the humidor. If it’s not at the correct level, repeat the process from the beginning. Repeat the process as many times as needed. Once the humidity level is between 65 and 75 percent, you are ready to store your cigars.
Re-Humidifying Your Humidor
Even after being seasoned, a humidor needs to be maintained to preserve the perfect level of humidity. If not properly cared for and maintained, a humidor will eventually lose enough humidity to be considered unbalanced. Luckily for you and I, re-humidifying a humidor that has lost its balance is incredibly easy. To do so, you will only have to use a shot glass and some distilled water or humidifying solution. Follow these simple steps:
- Step 1: Place the humidor in an ample, dry room. Next, pour a shot glass filled with distilled water in the bottom of the device. Instead of the distilled water, you can use a humidification solution. Typically, these solutions combine distilled water and Poly Glycol. In addition, most solutions help prevent the formation of mold and bacteria in the humidor.
- Step 2: Next, charge your humidifier as you normally would. Once again, you can use either distilled water or a specialized humidifier solution of your choice. Make sure not to overdo it with the water (or solution), though, as the goal is to moisten the humidifier and not to get it completely soaked. Immediately after that, place the humidifier inside the humidor. Before moving on to the next step, remember to wipe any excess water or solution from the exterior of the humidor.
- Step 3: Place your hygrometer inside the humidor. Try to place it as far away from the humidifier as possible, allowing it to get a good read of the entire humidity spectrum.
- Step 4: At this point, you will only have to wait until the hygrometer shows that the humidity inside the humidor has reached 65%.
Caring for Your Humidor
A good humidor will last you years with no problems as long as you give it proper care and attention. Follow these tips:
- Place your humidor where it will not be at risk of being knocked over. Due to the materials that they are made of, humidors are fragile devices that can easily break.
- Don’t place your humidor where it will receive direct sunlight. Sunlight will change the interior temperature of the humidor as well as deforming the wood.
- Don’t put objects on top of your humidor. The added weight may affect the physical integrity of the device.
- If necessary, use a soft cloth to clean your humidor. Make sure it’s clean and dry.
- If you want to polish your humidor after cleaning it, use furniture polish or refined beeswax. Do not use too much, however, as this could do more harm than good.
- Dust your humidor will regularity.
- Be sure not to get wipe the interior of your humidor with liquids of any kind. Apart from ruining the humidity balance of the device, this can ruin the wood used to line its inside.
Using Your Humidor
Once you have set up your humidor, you are ready to begin using it. This is not as easy as filling it with cigars and enjoying the rest of your life, though. In fact, there are various processes that you need to become familiar with to properly maintain and use your humidor.
Calibrating the Hygrometer
To ensure that your humidor is producing the right levels of humidity in its interior, you can use a hygrometer. Keep in mind, however, this tool needs to be calibrated often (once every three or four months should be enough). Luckily, the actual process of calibrating a hygrometer is not particularly difficult. To do this, you will need some iodized salt, a few ounces of distilled water and a small or medium plastic container with a flat bottom.
- First, put a teaspoon of salt inside the plastic container.
- Next, add just enough water to form a paste by stirring it into the salt. Make sure not to add too much water, though, as this will skew the readings. In fact, don’t add any more water than what is absolutely necessary to form a paste.
- Once you have made the paste, place the hygrometer inside the plastic container along with the paste.
- Close the lid of the container and leave it alone for seven to ten hours. Make sure not to open the lid or move the container during this time.
Once the required amount of time has passed, open the lid of the container and take the hygrometer out. Check the reading on the hygrometer. Its reading should read between 73 and 77 percent humidity. If that is not the case, your hygrometer is out of calibration. The difference between the reading and 75 is the exact number that your hygrometer is out of calibration by.
On an analog hygrometer, this can be helped by turning the screw that regulates the calibration. Typically, this screw or knob is located on the back of the hygrometer. If your hygrometer is digital, however, the only thing you can do is to add or subtract the amount that the device is out of calibration by.
Charging the Humidifier
- Step 1: Gently, remove the humidifier from the humidor.
- Step 2: Use the grate to squirt distilled water into the humidifier. Alternatively to distilled water, you can use a specialized humidifying solution. Remember to use only a small amount of liquid. The goal is not to soak the humidifier but to get it moist.
- Step 3: Wipe all excess liquid from the front of the device as only its back requires liquid for generating moisture.
- Step 4: Put the humidifier back in its spot within the humidor.
Adjustments and Placement
It’s very important to choose the right spot for placing your humidor. Many humidors are very luscious and elegant, causing people to place them in a place where they can be admired. Even though that is perfectly fine and understandable, the main driving factor behind the decision of placing your humidor in a particular spot should be the correct preservation of the cigars.
First of all, try to find a place that has the right temperature. Ideally, this temperature should be between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind, however, that you should never go above 70 degrees Fahrenheit as this will cause the interior temperature of the humidor to change drastically, resulting in a variation in its humidity. As I already mentioned a few times before in this article, the relative humidity that you should be aiming for is 65 percent.
Ventilation and Rotation
There are a couple of things you need to do regularly to keep your cigars fresh, moist and delicious. Don’t worry, these last two things are incredibly easy and quick to do. First, you need to ventilate your cigars. Fresh air is very good for cigars from time to time. For that reason, be sure to open the lid of the humidor from time to time. Leave it open for a couple of minutes and then close it again.
The second thing you can do to ensure that your cigars are in great condition is to rotate them. This is particularly important if you will not be smoking for prolonged periods of time. Doing it is very simple. About once a week, take all the cigars out of the humidor. Put the ones that were on the top layer of the humidor in the bottom, and then put the ones that were in the bottom on the top.
Coming to a Close
Having gone through this article, you probably feel a lot more confident about putting that new humidor to work. Hopefully, the instructions and tips that I provided will help you keep your cigars nice and fresh for long periods of time. Just remember: Be patient, thorough and precise, Most importantly, don’t skip any steps! Do you think I missed any important piece of information? Let me know by participating in the comment section below!