An experienced cigar smoker knows that storing cigars requires little maintenance. For example, you should keep your cigars under particular conditions to ensure they taste the way they should. Preserving cigars between 68-70% humidity and 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal. Sixty-eight to seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit is the sweet spot for both moisture and temperature, which is why a cigar humidifier is essential.
We recommend investing in a home humidor if you buy cigars by the box or in bulk rather than a few sticks at a time. Most of these options will also work if you are a casual smoker and must preserve three or four cigars. Have a look at the many ways to humidify your cigars properly.
Cigar Humidifier: Why Cigars Need Humidity
Cigars are agricultural products; Like produce, they won’t taste right (or smoke right) without the proper care. The tobacco in your Robusto is grown in a tropical climate with high humidity and warm temperatures. The leaves dry during the curing process, but cigar makers reintroduce moisture during fermenting and aging.
Many newbies erroneously think cigars store well in the refrigerator or the freezer. But, unfortunately, cold temperatures can’t retain humidity.
Without humidity, cigars become brittle, and the exterior wrapper cracks. Too much moisture can also cause problems. Like the walls in a dank basement, cigars can grow mold. Soggy cigars are challenging to light and burn unevenly.
Whether too damp or too dry, improper humidification affects the taste of your cigar. Keep cigars out of extremes, and remember that 68-72 is optimal.
Cigar Humidifier: Products to Improve Humidity
Most humidors come with a “sponge.” However, these are typically the floral foam variety. Humidification systems have evolved and improved in recent years. If you want to upgrade your cigar humidifier or stash a few sticks inside a Tupperware or Ziplock, these products will help maintain the proper humidity.
Note: It’s crucial to use distilled water or propylene glycol when using these products or refilling a humidor sponge. Tap water contains chlorine and other impurities that can create mold.
These pouches provide humidity using a “2- Way Control” system that adds and removes moisture. Made from natural salts and water, they are leakproof and offer a wide range of humidity levels (from 58-84% relative humidity or Rh).
Whether seasoning a humidor, adding extra moisture during the colder months, or traveling with a few sticks, Boveda pouches are easy and safe. First, remove the exterior packaging and toss the brown bag wherever you store your cigars. Depending on the surrounding environment and the quality of the container’s seal, Boveda bags can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year.
Boveda won’t advertise it, but you can always reuse the pouches. Submerge the bag in distilled water for a day and allow it to dry.
Cigar Humidifier Crystals
These polymer crystals are incredibly absorbent and, once activated with distilled water or propylene glycol, expand to hold up to 100 times their weight in moisture. Xikar makes several varieties.
The puck-shaped humidifiers are magnetized and a nice upgrade for the standard units with humidors. XiKar also makes a larger rectangular-shaped unit.
Crystals also come in jars and tubes. These are often already activated, so it is as simple as dropping them in your humidor or wherever you store cigars. Crystals provide a consistent 70% Rh but do require a bit of monitoring and maintenance.
The crystals will become noticeably smaller as they lose moisture. Refresh the crystals with the recommended mixture of distilled water or propylene glycol.
Longevity will depend on your environment. Colder, dryer weather will require more refilling, but crystals produce humidity anywhere from 1 to three months. The units can last up to six years if adequately maintained with moisture.
These beads work on the same principle as crystals. Spritz them with distilled water, and they will regulate the humidity in your humidor. They come in tubes or mesh bags.
Unorthodox Methods Humidification Methods
Some guys swear by kitty litter. We wouldn’t recommend it because the options above are inexpensive and designed for cigars. However, if desperate times call for desperate measures, ensure the litter is fragrance-free and add distilled water.
What To Do If You Don’t Have a Humidor
A tried and true, but the last-ditch solution is to use damp paper towels in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware. Just be sure to wring out the paper towel and only store sticks wrapped in cellophane. But, of course, you don’t want to place your cigars on a wet paper towel.
Monitoring Your Cigar Humidifier
Invest in a humidor if you’re investing time, care, and money into smoking premium cigars. Even small travel-sized humidors will come with humidifiers. They can hold anywhere from 2 to 10 or more cigars. But, of course, a traditional cedar-lined box is the best option.
They come with cigar humidifiers and hygrometers designed to seal in the humidity. In addition, all humidification products promise an exacting Rh level.
As you become familiar with the feel and taste of your cigars, you’ll know when to add humidity or let your cigars dry out a bit. However, having storage with a digital or analog hygrometer that provides an accurate Rh reading removes the guesswork. You’ll know when it’s time to add a Boveda pouch or refresh that crystal jar.
Photo credit: Cigar Life Guy