If you are planning on keeping your cigars for longer than 1-2 weeks, you will need a humidor. Cigars must be kept below the maximum temperature of 73°F (23°C) and between 65-72% humidity. Ideal conditions are 70°F (21°C) and 70% humidity.
Proper cigar storage is crucial. If you do not store your cigars properly you may encounter some of the following problems: uneven or too rapid burn, harsh or bitter taste, broken wrapper, difficulty lighting or keeping the cigar lit, mold, and tiny holes in your cigars, a sign of tobacco beetle infestation.
When you first set up a humidor, you must check the humidity level at least every two weeks to ensure that the humidity does not vary. Once a month (more often in arid weather conditions) add a Propylene Glycol Activation Solution (recommended) or distilled water to the humidification device. Once your humidor is stable and you have been taking care of it for a while, you will learn how long you can go without adding water or activation solution.
You should never use tap water as it contains minerals and chlorine that can clog the humidifier’s pores and inhibit operation.
Store your humidor in a cool, dry place to prevent mold growth. Avoid placing your cigars in direct sunlight. If the temperature and humidity get too high, cigars can develop a potentially damaging fungus or mold. Another hazard of cigars stored in too hot or humid an environment is an infestation of worms called lacioderma. The worms lay eggs inside cigars and burrow out, forming tiny holes in the wrapper and metamorphosing into tiny, brown beetles. If you discover the presence of worm holes in your cigars, remove and destroy the affected cigars immediately, and then carefully inspect all the cigars in your humidor for signs of infestation.
Do not keep your cigars in the refrigerator as it will suck out the moisture content of your sticks. Freezing your cigars is an extreme measure to be used only in case of bug infestation at the risk of damaging the cigars (but getting rid of the bugs is a victory of its own!).
A humidor’s proper moisture and temperature must be created before storing cigars, this is called Seasoning your Humidor. To setup your humidor, follow these simple instructions:
- Saturate the black plastic humidifiers with Propylene Glycol Activation Solution or distilled water. Dry off the surface of the humidifier and place on a towel for approximately one hour to make sure that no dripping occurs.
- Some people like to wipe the interior of the humidor with a damp cloth, if you do this make sure you use a clean, lint-free cloth dampened with distilled water and take care not to leave the surface wet. This step can be skipped if you are afraid of damaging the cedar interior, as may happen if the wood becomes too wet. If you subject raw wood to water it may swell, crack or otherwise become compromised.
- Leave a damp sponge in the humidor resting on a plastic bag. Make sure there is no direct contact between the sponge and the humidor. Instead of a sponge you may also use a shot glass full of water.
- Attach the humidifiers and the hygrometer to the inside of the lid. Also, place the humidifiers in the bottom holders of the humidor if applicable.
- Close the empty humidor for at least twelve hours or overnight.
- Open the humidor and remove the sponge and the plastic bag. Close the humidor.
- Your humidor is ready to store cigars when the hygrometer reads over 65%. This can take a few days or up to a week depending on various factors. When placing cigars in the humidor, make sure the cigars do not block the humidifier’s vents.
To check if the hygrometer is reading correctly, an efficient and cheap way to do it is to use the salt method to test its calibration. This test is good though can be less accurate. You just need to:
- Place some salt in a bottle cap or small cup and dampen it with a few drops of water (without dissolving it).
- Carefully place the wet salt and the hygrometer inside a see-through container and close tightly. You can use a zip lock bag provided it seals well and you leave some air inside as well.
- Let it sit for at least 6 hours and note the reading on the hygrometer without opening the container. It should be exactly 75%, the difference is how much your hygrometer is off.
- If needed, adjust the needle to 75% by turning the screw on the back.
If you follow these instructions correctly you should have a stable humidor that will keep your cigars in perfect smoking conditions for a very long time.
TIP: If you're looking for a new humidification system or to upgrade your current humidifier, here is a nice info-graphic to help you choose the Humidifier what will work best for your needs: