If you’re going to be a cigar smoker you must have a place to store your precious puros, and in order to make sure that you keep your sticks in perfect smoking condition, you need to know how to properly setup and season a humidor before the cigars even make it to the box.
There is a lot of misinformation on the web about seasoning a new humidor, many sites claiming that you can have a brand-new humidor ready for cigars within an hour out of the packaging, and this is simply not true, and you might end up damaging your humidor and your cigars. Today’s tips and tricks is going to focus on the setup and seasoning of a humidor to make sure it is ready to protect and age your cigars.
Why Do I Need a Humidor?
That’s a fantastic question, and the short answer is to store your cigars and keep them in optimal smoking condition. Cigars need to be kept at a certain humidity level and temperature in order to maintain there peak smoking condition. A cigar that is too dry will crack and break, smoke too fast, and really result in a poor smoking experience. Likewise, a cigar that is overly moist will result in cracks in the wrapper, smoke slow, if stay lit at all, and the moisture can induce mold. In either case, maintaining your cigars at a proper humidity and temperature level will help make sure that every time you pull a cigar out of the box, it will be a pleasurable experience.
How to Select a Humidor
Humidors come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small travel humidors to desktop humidors, furniture humidors, to large cabinet humidors. The humidor you select is going to be determined by your need and the availability of space. Many people start with a small desktop humidor, something designed to hold around 40 cigars, like this Freeman Mahogany desktop humidor. If you’re a casual smoker that doesn’t intend to stock up on cigars, something smaller like a 20-count humidor might be more appropriate. The most important part in selecting a humidor is making sure that the humidor has quality construction, and that it maintains a tight seal. A humidor that doesn’t maintain a tight seal is going to allow all your humidity to escape, resulting in damaged cigars. Lastly, you want to have a good hydrometer to monitor the humidity level in your humidor. Personally, I like the humidors that have hydrometers that are visible without having to open the humidor up. These allow for quick spot checks to make sure your humidity level is within the proper range.
How to Season the Humidor
Once you have purchased a humidor you have to season it in order to prepare it for properly storing cigars. Many sources on the internet will tell you that a quick and easy way to season a humidor is to wet the inside wood of the humidor, close it up and let it absorb into the wood for fifteen to 20 minutes before putting in your cigars. DO NOT DO THIS! This is not the correct way to season and humidor and can actually cause damage to your new humidor! By soaking the interior wood of the humidor, you can cause the wood to swell and warp, possibly breaking the seal of your humidor lid, making it so the humidor never seals properly again. Additionally, the water can seep into areas that are glued, resulting in a glue smell in your humidor, which will permeate into your cigars! Lastly, this method might appear to bring the humidity level up quickly, however as the moisture is absorbed into the wood and evaporates the humidity level will quickly fall. One other consideration is that some cigars are not packaged in cellophane, so placing a bare cigar into a humidor that has been “seasoned” in this manner can cause the cigars to soak up excess moisture, ruining a perfectly good cigar.
To properly season a humidor, you need to have a little patience and follow a few simple steps. Before you start, you’re going to want to make sure you have the following:
- A clean cloth
- Distilled water
- A small dish, about half the height of your humidor
Start by making sure the humidor is clean. Take your clean cloth and simply wipe the inside of the humidor, making sure that it is free of dust or debris.
Next, place your humidor in a spot that it can remain, undisturbed for at least five to seven days, then place the shallow dish inside the humidor, right in the middle. Now, fill the shallow dish with your distilled water. If you have a large humidor with multiple levels or drawers, you will want to place a water dish on each level to help the process. Once your distilled water dish(es) is in place, close the lid making sure the humidor is completely sealed and let it sit.
On the fifth day, check to see what the relative humidity (RH) is according to your hydrometer. Your target for seasoning the humidor is to reach 80% RH. If the hydrometer reading hasn’t hit 80% RH, close the humidor, and leave it for a couple more days. If you have reached the 80% RH level, then your humidor has been seasoned and is ready for use.
Remove the water dish from your humidor and replace it with your humidification device – we really like using gel beads as our humidifiers, like these ones from Cigar Caddy. Put your cigars in to your humidor and close it up. Over the course of the next few days, you will see the RH level come down to that 68% to 70% sweet spot. This will happen as the cigars absorb humidity in the humidor.
Be sure to maintain a steady temperature in the room your humidor is located. The optimum temperature and RH level for cigars is 70% RH and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We have found that maintaining a RH level of 65% to 70% is ideal and maintaining the temperature at 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit keeps our sticks in perfect smoking condition.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully seasoned and stocked your humidor, and your cigars are ready for optimum smoking pleasure! Of course, maintaining your humidor is your next step in successfully keeping cigars, but for now, grab your favorite stick and put smoke in the air.