The Art of the Good Cigar

A Matter of Taste

Cigar storage basics: Hot, cold, damp or dry?

Posted by herfergrrl on June 17, 2009

Many connoisseurs agree that the ideal humidity range for storing and smoking stogies is closer to 60-65% than to 70%.  I would tend to agree, and I keep one humidor in the low 60’s for tossing this week’s smokes into.  They burn better and more consistently at a slightly lower humidity.

There are different methods for keeping your humidor at the correct temperature and humidity.  Keeping cigars smokable isn’t really rocket science, nor does it require a super expensive box made of Spanish cedar and inlaid with burlwood and mammoth ivory. Basically you need a container of finite volume that is close to airtight, and a way to keep the contents of said container at around 64-70% humidity. You want to keep out mold, tobacco beetles, and anything that would impart an evil smell to your stogies, like Lars Tetens “flavored cigars” or urinal cakes. (Personally I can’t tell the difference between the two.)  Basically, don’t put flavored sticks next to real cigars, or blow smoke into your humidor.

Industries other than cigars have worked pretty good solutions to the “container of finite volume with perishable contents at X% humidity” problem, and borrowing from them can be cheaper than buying cigar accessories such as hygrometers that are labeled and sold as such.  Silica gel beads sold as a commercial dessicant and also as kitty litter can be a solution for humidity control.  Google for “superabsorbent polymers” or “super absorbent crystals” and you’ll get an idea of what it really is inside those expensive little “crystal humidification” units.

The cheapest humidification units are made with oasis foam, which you need to wet with distilled water and propylene glycol.  Typically a 50-50 solution is recommended.  They last a long time if properly tended. They can be prone to mold and bacteria, so keep an close eye on it especially in the first couple of weeks. If you wanted to be a really serious cheap-ass, you could buy oasis foam from a florist supply and house it in a solid container that you perforated thoroughly.

Air circulation is another potent weapon in your humidor arsenal, making sure that your temperature and humidity remain consistent in all areas.  An inexpensive or re-claimed cooling fan intended for a computer will work just fine mounted in a “coolerdor”. Some kinds of ice chest coolers with a nice airtight or near airtight lid work just fine as humidors.  What you want to hear when the lid is closed or opened is a little “whoosh”.

It is nice to have some Spanish cedar in with your cigars for the lovely aroma, as well as for useful storage tray dividers.  You can get that by breaking up old cigar boxes or even from a lumber yard, and some sites sell commercial cedar cigar trays for about $10.  Warning:  if you go the lumber yard route, don’t confuse Spanish cedar with American cedar, which is used for moth repellent balls.  It will successfully repel you too, if you keep it in your humidor.

Also, there is nothing wrong with a “Tupperdor”. The smaller containers can be harder to keep steadily balanced on the humidity especially when they aren’t chock-full, and you don’t want a cigar too soggy any more than you want it too dry.  Keeping it “just right” for your smoking enjoyment is the aim.

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