It has become an epidemic- people are buying humidors and sticking their cigars in them without seasoning them first. You may as well be sticking your cigars in a food dehydrator. All that dry wood is going to suck all the moisture right out of your expensive premium cigars.
Back when I used to work at the local smoke and spirits shop we would hand out a photocopied paper with detailed instructions with every humidor we sold. Heck, even if you didn’t buy a humidor we would tell you how to season yours. It was just good customer service. It stands to reason if you buy a humidor online you aren’t going to get those instructions. That’s the main reason to buy from a local shop. If your shop doesn’t give you seasoning instructions that’s a problem.
Selecting A Humidor
There are so many different sizes, varieties, and uses of humidors I will have to dedicate another future blog post to this topic. The main thing is to make sure you get a humidor that seals well- a snugly-fitting and somewhat heavy lid is a must.
Seasoning Your Humidor
There are a few different methods for seasoning your humidor. Some people will tell you their way is the only correct way. I say whatever gets you to around 70% humidity is cool. But first, what happens to your cigars if they aren’t stored properly? The wrapper can crack, the cigar can become stale-tasting, or the whole thing can just fall apart. It’s not worth buying them if you aren’t going to take care of them.
There are foolproof products on the market for seasoning your humidor. Boveda makes a product specifically for seasoning your humidor, which you place in an empty humidor for about 2 weeks to slowly acclimate the wood to the desired humidity level. This method is pretty simple. The downside is expense and time.
The most common method out there is to wipe your humidor down with distilled water. You want to start with a brand new unused sponge with no pre-added detergents, soak it down with distilled water, and wipe with the grain. Then you leave the wet sponge inside the humidor overnight, maybe even for a couple of days if you have a larger humidor. You can use a lint-free cloth in place of the sponge and then place a shot glass of distilled water inside the humidor. When you employ this method it is crucial you wipe all surfaces evenly, including the lip of the box and the lid, to ensure even hydration and a tightly-closing lid.
Some people even just place a shot glass of distilled water inside their humidor for a few days, skipping the wiping part altogether. The thinking here is that wiping leaves behind too much water, which can lead to mold, and it also agitates the wood grain. I’ve used this method before and it works, though I can’t say I’ve ever agitated any wood grains to my knowledge.
Distilled water is crucial here because the minerals in tap water can leave deposits behind on your cigars. Also, some people choose to leave their humidors open for 48 hours after that initial seasoning session to allow any excess moisture out in order to prevent mold growth. Again, there is no scientific formula here- the point is to get the right amount of humidity for your cigars to be happy.
Maintaining Humidity Once You’ve Seasoned
You may need to re-season your humidor periodically, though if you find you need to do it more than once a year you may need to look into buying a new humidor.
Two-way humidity control is crucial to the proper functioning of your humidor. It’s rare, but too much moisture in the air can lead to mold, and that means you’ll have to throw all your cigars away. Some two-way humidity control options include:
- Boveda packs- these are a different humidification level than the seasoning packs, nice because you just take them out of the plastic and toss them in there
- Cigar Mechanic – nice because you simply soak it in distilled water and you can reuse it several times
- Xikar Crystals – a two-way humidity control system that can be refilled with a proprietary propylene-glycol solution with an anti-fungal agent
It’s also important to invest in a good hygrometer to gauge the humidity levels in your humidor. You may find you need to add humidity in the winter and take it away in the summer. Don’t place all your trust in a built-in hygrometer.
Remember that your cigars can be stored in a plastic food storage container with your chosen humidification system while you season your humidor.