When I was introduced to cigar smoking a couple of years ago, my friend Joe gave me one of his humidors to store my budding collection of smokes. It’s a good example of a medium sized, Spanish cedar humidor. At the time, it was mostly seasoned, and being inexperienced, I did not pay a lot of attention to the humidity levels. All I remember doing to it was using some propylene glycol wipes to refresh the seasoning.
After a couple of years, I’ve become better at understanding the relationship between cigar moisture levels versus the enjoyment during the smoking experience. The taste become harsher when the cigar is too dry, and the cigar has a tendency to break apart as well.
When the cigar contains excessive moisture, the full taste is not revealed, and the cigar requires constant draws to stay lit.
I decide to purchase a couple of new humidors recently, and did my research to find out what was the proper way to season these two cedar boxes, so I would be able to maintain the proper 70% Relative Humidity (RH) and 70 F temperature recommended by cigar aficionados as the optimum cigar storage conditions.
Humidor #1 was purchased at JR’s in Smithfield, NC, for the planned storage of the Las Vegas batch of cigars.
Humidor #2 was an accidental purchase from Tommy Bahama when I stumbled upon a significantly discounted unit.
Humidor #1 came with a “green sponge” type humidifier, and cheaper tape type hygrometer. Humidor #2 came with a gel type humidifier, and a digital hygrometer on the face of the unit. I purchased a Xikar remote sensing hygrometer for humidor #1 and to help calibrate humidor #2 as needed.
My first step was to calibrate both removable hygrometers. I placed them in a large sandwich type sealed plastic bag along with a 69% Boveda humidifier pack. Incidentally, this is the method that I’ve used to keep the 70 or so cigar that I brought back from LV, and I’ve not had to complain so far. I waited a few days while monitoring the readings.
The Xikar sensor read 66% after one day, 67% after two days and has stabilized at 68% after four days. Between the margin of error on the humidifier pack and the sensor, I consider the result to exceed my expectation, and the sensor to be accurate.
As you can see, the cheaper hygrometer has barely budged and is defective out of the box. I will use the Xikar sensor in humidor #1. The good news is that room temperature is exactly at 70 F in the man cave.
For the “green sponge” humidifier, a solution of propylene glycol is recommended. I purchased a can of Humilube, mostly on the basis of the packaging (see below). Any 50% propylene glycol, 50% distilled water solution will work. I soaked the humidifier in the solution and drained the excess away.
For the gel type humidifier, I soaked the unit in distilled water. After about a couple of hours, the little beads had swollen up and taken on the complete volume available in the plastic container.
For each humidor, I also placed a sponge soaked with distilled water in the units, on top of a plastic bag. The intent is for the distilled water to be uniformly absorbed by the Spanish cedar, without water running down to the bottom of the humidor . I used brand new sponges from the kitchen stash.
The humidifier were placed back in their respective humidors, and the humidor sealed for four days. The recommended time is one week.
I will update the article with some long term result as I continue to monitor the RH levels. I also want to better understand the physics behind this time proven method to care for cigars and will cover that in a separate article.
I used this article from Gary Korb for guidance on this process. I also purchased some of the items from Famous Smoke.