Humidor 101

Humidor 101

HUMIDOR 101

Welcome to Humidor 101. I’m assuming that you have smoked a couple of cigars by now and are interested in getting deeper into the hobby by purchasing a bunch of cigars to have on hand. To best enjoy your new hobby, your cigars need to be properly cared for. Here is a handy guide to help walk you through some of the basics of cigar storage.

What is a humidor?

A humidor is any container that can provide a stable environment for your cigars. Stable typically means maintaining a temperature range of 60-70 degrees F and a relative humidity level of 60%-70%. Almost any airtight container could be used as humidor. Just be sure that your container is sealed tightly and can protect your cigars from temperature and humidity changes.

Common Humidor Types:

Desktop Humidor

    • The classic desktop humidor is what most people envision when someone says humidor. These humidors are widely available and can range in price from less than $30 for basic models to hundreds or even thousands of dollars for elaborate and well-constructed pieces. Just understand that when it comes to humidors, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” applies, as many new humidor owners quickly discover that most humidors with a low price tag are very prone to leaks, compromising their functionality. If you’re going to invest in a humidor to protect your cigars, do some research on the available models first.
    • Most Desktop Humidors are wooden, however other materials like acrylic can be used. Wooden humidors will have an interior lining of Spanish cedar. Inexpensive models will use veneer. Better quality humidors will use solid wood.
    • A typical desktop humidor holds 40-50 cigars, although models are available for as few as 10 or as many as several hundred cigars.
    • Wooden humidors require a lot of work and maintenance, which can intimidate and frustrate those new to the hobby. Although everyone loves the classic look of a desktop humidor, many beginners will find that maintaining a plastic “Tupperdor” humidor much easier. In fact, cigar smokers who have been involved in the hobby for years have been abandoning wooden humidors and migrating to Tupperdor setups in large numbers.

Cigar Jar

    • The cigar jar is a classic option that is often overlooked. Most cigar jars are acrylic or glass, however other materials like porcelain or even plastic can be used.
    • Most cigar jars will have a clamp to ensure it closes tight.
    • Some models will contain a small piece of Spanish cedar in the bottom of the jar to help retain and stabilize humidity and provide a pleasant cedar aroma.
    • Cigar jars commonly hold 25 cigars
    • This is an effective option if your collection is small or space is limited.

Tupperdor

    • A Tupperdor is a plastic storage container (like Tupperware) for keeping cigars in an ideal environment.
    • This is quickly becoming the most popular option of storage among cigar enthusiasts due to the superior airtight seal, transparent sides that allow hygrometer inspection without opening the container, and greater storage capacity.
    • A Tupperdor can hold anywhere from 5 cigars to 80 or more. The only limitation is how large of a container you want to use.
    • How to build a Tupperdor 2

Wineador / Electric Humidor

    • A wineador is wine refrigerator that has been converted into an electric humidor.
    • Wineadors have become popular over the last few years as prices have dropped at the retail level, and unwanted wine refrigerators are readily available at yard sales and on sites like Craigslist.
    • Fully furnished electric humidors are available complete with shelves, drawers, humidity control systems, and lighting.
    • Many wine refrigerators can be easily converted with very little effort and custom fitted Spanish cedar shelves and drawers are easy to find.
    • The capacity of most readily available wineadors and electric humidors is 100-400 cigars.
    • Costs for an electric humidor will vary from $150 – $500 depending on the model and what features you select.
    • Due to cost and size, a wineador is not recommended for a beginner.
    • When looking at wine refrigerators, be sure to select a model that uses a thermoelectric cooling system. Compressor-based units will remove humidity and dry out the cigars.

What is Spanish Cedar?

Spanish Cedar is a part of most humidors and you might be wondering why. First off, Spanish Cedar (aka Cedrela Odorata) is actually a type of mahogany and is grown in Central and South America. Spanish Cedar is used in humidors mainly due to its ability to absorb and release humidity. Additional Spanish Cedar helps repeal Cigar Beetles and has a pleasant odor.

Humidification

Cigars are best when maintained between 60-70% humidity. The exact number is up to the preference of the smoker. Determining a preference takes time and experience. When humidity stays above 74% for an extended period of time, there is a risk of mold growing on the cigar. A small amount of mold on the wrapper can be wiped off and the cigar can still be smoked. If mold is on the foot of the cigar, it should not be smoked. It might be possible to cut off a portion of the foot to remove the section of the foot impacted by the mold.

There are several different options to maintain humidity.

Puck or Sponge

    • Typically found with cheap desktop humidors.
      • Distilled water is poured in it and is supposed to be released into the humidor.
      • It is common for mold to form on these devices, which is BAD.
      • While these devices seem like a good idea to a beginner, they are not and should be replaced/upgraded if they come with your humidor.

Boveda Packs

    • Preferred option of many cigar smokers.
      • Multiple options to maintain different levels of humidity.
      • Very low maintenance.
      • Can come in direct contact with cigars.
      • Can be costly, depending on the size of humidor.

Humidity Beads/Kitty Litter 1

    • Humidity Beads are the same as unscented, silica kitty litter.
      • Never needs to be replaced.
      • Used in larger humidors as the beads should not come in contact with the cigars.
      • Weekly maintenance to add Distilled Water
      • Can be a cost effective solution.

Temperature

In addition to humidity, temperature is an important factor to maintaining a cigar. The temperature inside of the humidor should stay between 60-70F. If the temperature stays above 74F, then there is a risk of cigar beetles destroying the cigars. For those not familiar with cigar beetles, almost all cigars contain cigar beetles. However cigar beetles are dormant in temperatures below 74F. Also almost all cigar are frozen before they reach you, which will kill most cigar beetles. While freezing greatly reduces the risk of cigar beetles, it does not completely eliminate the risk. If the temperature is too high and a cigar beetle wakes up, it will start eating the cigar it is in and will then continue to the cigar next to it and so forth.

While it is easy to adjust humidity, it is not always easy to adjust temperature (except with a wineador). If high temperatures are a concern, there are several easy things to try:

    • Keep the humidor away from direct sunlight (windows) and vents.
    • Place the humidor in the coolest part of the house, like a basement. Closets can also work if a basement is not available as they typically do not have a vent and the door stays closed.

If the above does not work, upgrading to a Coolidor or Wineador should be considered.

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