There are different things to consider when buying a humidor. Learn how to find the humidor that best suits your needs and season it for storage of your fine cigars.
There are stop-gap solutions for storing cigars without a humidor. However, we recommended using one to preserve the freshness of your cigars, thus allowing you to enjoy their exquisite taste for longer. Apart from size, materials used, and workmanship, humidification plays a central role that dictates a humidor’s quality and price.
Humidor dimensions – size matters
The size primarily depends on how often and thus how many cigars you smoke. The available space in the room is also a factor. However, you should make room based on your smoking habits. It would be a shame if the cigar consumption frequency were to be dictated by the size of the humidor and available space. Whether frequent connoisseurs require a large humidor depends on how often they buy cigars and how long they want to store them. Moreover, if you like to buy cigars in wooden boxes rather than individually, a sufficiently large humidor should be at hand to store these. The various cigar flavors and their strength also play a role when deciding on the humidor size. We can draw the following recommendations from the above considerations:
- For casual connoisseurs (1-4 cigars per month), a humidor for 20 cigars is enough. If you smoke several times per week, we recommend a larger humidor.
- If you like to buy cigar boxes, buy a humidor that fits the preferred cigar brand box size best – it’s better to go too big than too small.
- If you like to spoil yourself or guests with a wide choice of cigars, make sure to store the various cigar types separately.
Material and workmanship
Humidors can be made from a range of woods like mahogany, oak, maple, or cherry wood, but there are two main reasons why most are crafted from Spanish cedar. The name is deceptive. The wood is neither from Spain nor is it cedar. Instead, mahogany is used. The advantage of Spanish cedar is that this type of wood is close to odorless. Furthermore, it is well suited for regulating humidity, and it repels tobacco beetles. In summary: Spanish cedar is among the most expensive but also best-suited humidor wood. Plus, it allows cigar aromas to shine without adding anything. That is why this exclusive wood from West Africa and South America is used for the lining of most quality humidors.
Choosing the most suitable wood alone is not enough. A humidor must be crafted with precision and seal properly (the lid in particular) to fulfill its most vital function: maintain consistent moisture levels. It can be tested easily by letting the lid drop slightly. It is an excellent sign if the lid closes slowly and makes a faint hissing sound when displacing air, which indicates that it is sealed.
Many humidors have a lid, or other parts, made from glass. This has the advantage that the humidor contents, temperature, or humidity can be checked without opening it. These humidors must be installed in a shaded place. Avoid direct sunlight since it affects temperature and humidity and can negatively affect cigar quality.
Humidification systems – nomen est omen
The term humidor derives from the word humid. Controlling humidity (between 65% and 75%) and temperature are the primary functions of a humidor. There are three different humidification systems – sponge humidification, acrylate polymer crystal humidification, and electric humidification.
- The sponge is a traditional way of humidifying a humidor. This system is affordable and easy to use since it doesn’t require electricity. However, sponge systems must be checked and cleaned frequently, and they are prone to excessive moisture, mold and bacteria growth.
- Acrylate polymer crystal humidifiers are also affordable, easy to maintain and offer a relatively stable humidity with little risk of mold growth. However, the crystals must be replaced at least every two years, and the system is prone to bacteria growth.
- Fully automated electronic humidification systems are mainly used for larger humidors. There is no need to check electronic humidification systems since their built-in hygrometer measures humidity continuously and actives the system whenever needed. There is a low risk of mold and bacteria growth, and humidity is kept at a constant level. However, the costs of electronic humidification systems are high since they use electricity. Plus, the system needs to be filled with water manually.
You need a hygrometer to check the humidity of systems that use sponges and acrylate polymer crystals. Most humidors have a bimetal hygrometer pre-installed. It is impossible to recalibrate these small round humidity measuring devices, and the display is not always correct. We recommend using a digital or hair hygrometer for a reliable value. Precise hair hygrometers can be recalibrated and start with a diameter of 12 cm, mostly in larger humidors. Digital hygrometers come in different sizes and quality. They are not easy to recalibrate. However, even affordable models are pretty accurate, and many even come with a temperature display.
Preparation and maintenance
Before using the humidor for the first time, you should clean the interior walls and wooden inlays with a cloth that has been moistened with distilled water. Afterwards, place a bowl with distilled water inside the humidor and close the lid. Depending on the humidor’s size, it may take the wood 1-2 days or even a week to absorb the vaporized water. Once the humidor has achieved its desired baseline humidity (see above), you can start storing your cigars. Once a week, you should air the humidor for about an hour. Make sure to check the temperature and humidity of cigars periodically. Elastic and smooth cigars indicate ideal storage conditions. Dry and hard cigars indicate insufficient humidity.
Tips and rumors
You can make mistakes even when you’re storing cigars in quality and expensive humidors, thus negatively affecting the smoking experience and the wallet. That is why we wrote this blog entry: How to store cigars correctly. Crucial tips and tricks for storing cigars. It also provides stop-gap solutions for storing cigars without a humidor and tackles two persistent rumors concerning cigar storage in fridges and the interaction of temperature and humidity. The article is also of help should your cigars ever become dry. It saves you from smoking a delicate and expensive cigar that’s become too dry and throwing it away.