Ooh-ooh that smell! Cigar smoke odor. It gets on your clothes, it stinks up your car, your man cave, office, wherever you prefer to partake indoors. So how do you deal with it? There are number of options available to you, so let’s get started…
Since I’m fortunate enough to smoke cigars at my job, my clothes can get pretty stinky. The smoke even fogs-up my reading glasses. I have a whole de-stinking ritual I go through when I get home after work. Now, if your clothes absolutely REAK from cigar smoke, toss ‘em in the hamper.
As long as your clothes aren’t dirty enough to chuck in the laundry basket, the best solution I’ve found are fabric deodorizer sprays like Febreze® and similar products. Simply follow the directions on the bottle and that’s pretty much it. I usually hang the spray-treated clothes away from my other clothes, too. I’ve also discovered something else about these products: it usually takes about three days for the chemicals to completely remove the smoke odor, or at least enough so you can wear your clothes at least one more time without smelling like an ashtray.
If the smoke odor isn’t too bad, you can hang your clothes outside and let the fresh air naturally remove the odor. One other solution is to place the clothes in the dryer with a scented dryer sheet and run the dryer on extra low or air fluff settings for about 15 minutes.
Remember that silk does not absorb smoke, so you won’t have to worry much about your tie, and if you do smoke in the house pretty regularly, you may want to consider getting yourself a smoking jacket.
If you are fortunate to have a place to smoke in your house, there are several items you should have. For one, a good smoke filter. There are a number of good units on the market that work very well. If you can’t afford it, or are unable to install a ventilation system in your smoking room, one of the original and best air cleaners is the Csonka Super Smoker Cloaker. Using ozonation (ozone), it will handle smoke odors in a 1,000 sq. ft area and there are no filters to replace. One of the more high-tech solutions is the Rabbit Air Minus A2 purifier. It looks like a flat screen TV and can be placed on a stand or hung on the wall; it even remote control. Using a 6-stage HEPA filter system, it’s ultra-quite, purifies up to 815 sq. ft. of space, and eliminates odors from more than just cigars, too. Rabbit also makes several models with artwork on the screen which adds a little extra décor to your smoking room. If you have a window in your smoking room, you can buy a 2-way window fan that will act as a vent. It works pretty well in smaller rooms, but at high speed it can be pretty noisy.
After you’re done enjoying your smoke, for added odor coverage, keep a can of a high quality air freshener around like Re-Fresh and spray it just before you leave the room. You should also leave the air purifier on for several hours afterwards, too. A lot of cigar smokers don’t smoke in their vehicles because they don’t want to get their car all smelly. You’re also in a very tightly enclosed space. Sure, you can open the windows and that’s probably the best solution, but what if you live in northern Maine or Minnesota. It gets pretty cold out there. Plus, there’s also the risk of dropping ashes on your clothes or your seat.
If you’re the type of cigar smoker who just can’t go anywhere without a lit stogie firmly placed in your jaw, there are a couple of other solutions. Open windows are the way to go, and if you have a moon roof or drive a convertible, even better. Csonka makes an air purifier called the Auto Smoker Cloaker. It’s very handy when you can’t open the windows due to cold or foul weather. For more compact cars they also make a smallerCar Fresh Air Purifier.
I happen to like smoking the occasional cigar while driving. One thing I’ve learned is that if you use the air conditioner to filter the smoke, every time you turn it on, you will smell stale smoke for the first few seconds – and it only takes ONE cigar or cigarette to do it, too. Though most new cars come with HEPA filters, they’re really not made to handle heavy amounts of smoke.
One way to keep your car smelling fresh while you’re driving is to buy a vent deodorizer. (Forget about those tacky tree-shaped deodorizers they sell at the car wash or the dollar store.) The vent sticks don’t seem to do a very good job either, so I recommend the type that have a liquid deodorizer in them; some even come with little built-in fans. Here again, it’s best not to use the air conditioner. Instead, use the vent button which allows outside air into the car as you drive. You can even boost the fan control a little, and whenever you can, keep a window or two open, at least partially.
Also keep a can of air freshener in your car like Re-Fresh (mentioned above) or Ozium®. They’re not the only products out there either, so browse around. Just make sure it really works well on smoke. Once you’ve parked your car and closed the windows, step out of your car and mist the interior before you close and lock your car. This will give you a little added odor elimination insurance. Plus, your car will smell nice when you return.
Finally, I take no credit as the ultimate authority on this or any other cigar-related topics. So, if you have any cigar smoke odor solutions that work for you, please let other readers know about them by leaving a comment.Febreze® is a registered trademark of Proctor & Gamble, Inc. Ozium® is a registered trademark of MEDO Industries, Inc.
One of the email questions I receive on a pretty regular basis is, “After delivery, how long should I keep my cigars in the humidor before smoking them?” For all intents and purposes, the cigars should be “smoke ready” right out of the box. Just about all of the leading manufacturers age their cigars for a minimum of 6-months in Spanish cedar-lined rooms before shipping. Depending on the cigars, it could be as long as three to five years, and in some cases, even longer; then you have the tobaccos, themselves, which may have been aged for any number of years. It’s safe to presume that a sizable segment of cigar smokers smoke that first cigar out of the box within the first few minutes the package arrives, or at least within the first 24 hrs. Why not, right? OK, but based on my experience and what I’ve learned from other cigar smokers, letting your cigars rest for even a few days after placing them in your humidor results in a better smoke. This is generally referred to as “settling.” There are any number of things, that can “upset” your cigars while in transit. By letting them settle in your humidor the tobaccos should return to their pre-shipping state. As for cigars bought in a retail store, each store’s humidor set-up is different, and some are better or worse than others. Therefore, even in the case of a same-day sale, it doesn’t hurt to let your new cigars buddy-up with your other smokes for a day or two. The choice is yours.
So what if you were to let your cigars rest even longer? Say a month, six months, a year, two, even several years. Of course, it depends on the cigar and how much patience you can muster. There’s no specific time period, which is why this topic can make for a sticky debate among cigar smokers. Let me give you a recent example which demonstrates that even a home aging your cigars period as short as a week can make a difference. I recently bought a box of cigars from a very reputable manufacturer. Though I had smoked this brand in the past, I hadn’t smoked this particular line extension which used a different wrapper. I based my purchase on the quality of the brand, the blend, my past experience with the company’s cigars, and the price. I placed half of them in my office humidor and took the remaining cigars home. As tempted as I was to light one up, I waited until the next day. Not only did the cigar not live up to my expectations, I was constantly relighting it. They were probably still too moist. Two days later, I smoked another. Not much difference, but they were tasty. One week later – actually, as I was writing this very article I had one going – the flavor had improved significantly. So, I decided to wait another week before I had the next one. I concluded that after a month they’d be even better, and by the time I get to the last few, they’ll be wonderful.
Home aging your cigars tip: Always have a good supply of cigars to smoke on hand while your new arrivals are aging.
So what about long-term aging, like two years and beyond? An email I received within the last few weeks begged the question. Three years ago the customer purchased a 5-pack of a certain high-profile cigar.
“The one I had then was only so-so,” wrote the customer. “However, after 3 years, the remaining ones were amazing. I guess the whole ‘aging improves cigars’ thing really is true! What do you think the ideal time is for aging? 3 years on those [cigars] was great. [Is] 4 better? 5? More? I’ve heard that cigars can keep improving for decades…is that true?” My answer was basically this: I have some top-flight cigars that have been in my humidor for almost 10 years. Mainly because, like a lot of smokers, I was “waiting for the right time” to smoke them. I should know better. Some of those extra-long-aged cigars have held up, but some haven’t. That said, three years could have been right for those cigars. By the customer’s logic it made sense that the longer he aged those cigars, the better they’d get. Then again, they may have tasted just as good after one or two years. The thing is, like some wines, if you age a cigar too long it will lose its bouquet; that is unless it is under very special conditions that can slow the aging process down long enough to keep them fresh for a decade or more. There’s no reason to age most premium cigars more than two to three years. Even some cigars that are blended using a lot of oily ligero long-filler will mellow-out nicely after just one year.
Some cigar makers like Jorge Padrón and Pete Johnson will tell you there’s no need to age their cigars any longer. Light ‘em up and enjoy them for Pete’s sake (no pun intended). Without a doubt, some cigars require extra aging, and almost all do taste better with more time on them, say six months to a year. Again, it depends on the cigar. Secondly, if you prefer smoking the finer cigars on the market, why wait so long when it’s not all that necessary?
At the risk of sounding like your grandmother, you could be hit by a bus tomorrow…then what? You get the idea. In other words, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and enjoy ‘em, but age them on a per-cigar basis. You’ll eventually know which cigars improve best or least by experimenting with different time periods. Two to three years max? Perhaps. But four to five years or more? I think that’s pushing it.
As we already know, the best place to store your cigars is in a properly maintained humidor. However, there are some cigar humidors, like cabinet style humidors, et. al. that are big enough to accommodate entire boxes of cigars. One of the most often asked questions about this type of storage is whether the humidity from the humidor will reach the cigars in their factory boxes.
If the conditions are right, cigar box storage is easy. Cigars that are kept in their factory boxes will stay fresh up to a month on average, even after opening. By placing the entire box in your humidor the cigars will remain fresh indefinitely, just as they would if you removed the cigars, but it depends on how you plan to store the boxes, too. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you are storing your cigars for the long haul and that your humidor keeps pretty stable “ideal” conditions.
By keeping the cigar boxes sealed with their outer cello on them, this is not much different from cigar box storage in a humidified warehouse or a cigar store humidor; the cigars should be fine. However, it’s better to remove the outer cello from the box, which will allow more humidified air to seep into the box. Moreover, cracking the lid – in other words, lifting it an inch or so – will allow even more humidified air in, and it is recommended that you do this every so often. You can use any number of small objects to prop the lid open. Anything from an extra cigar cutter to a cedar spacer block, even a rolled up business card will do. You can keep the lid propped up for as long as you deem necessary. 24 hours is usually plenty of time.
Of course, removing the lid entirely permits the most air flow, and this practice is also quite popular with many cigar smokers who have cabinet type humidors.
Finally, cardboard boxes are packed tighter than wooden “cabinet” style boxes in which the cigars themselves are also not protected by cello. Wooden boxes are also preferred because they’re made from Spanish cedar, thereby augmenting the positive effect Spanish cedar has on aging cigars.
In our previous article on how to season a cigar humidor, we described the more “traditional” method for seasoning a cigar humidor. Thanks to modern technology there’s another way to do it, and it’s a lot “cleaner,” too. Boveda, maker of the Humidipaks you find in boxes of Arturo Fuente cigars and other brands, makes an 84%RH Seasoning Pack that you place in your new humidor. It’s a much easier way to season than having to deal with distilled water and sponges or shot glasses, etc.
Please note that it can take up to 14 days to fully season the box with the Humidipak system as opposed to the average 2-4 days with the sponge method. However, slow absorption of moisture by the walls of the humidor is often preferred by many cigar enthusiasts since it also helps prevent warping.
As with the humidity packs, first you have to predetermine how many packs you’ll need to season your humidor based on its cigar capacity. On average, two (2) seasoning packs are required for every 50 cigars.
Order the number of Boveda Seasoning Packs required for your humidor and simply place them in the box. If you have a top tray and your humidor requires at least two packs, be sure to place one on the tray.
Check your humidor daily and take a hygrometer reading. Once it has reached 84%, leave the packs in for two full weeks. According to Humidipak, Inc. CEO, Sean Knutsen, 14 days is the “optimum” time limit to ensure that, as noted above, the walls of your humidor have had ample time to slowly absorb as much moisture as possible.
When seasoning your humidor, whether it be the damp sponge method or using the Boveda Seasoning Pack, you also want to make sure your hygrometer is giving you the most accurate reading, especially before you season your new humidor. For this purpose, Humidipak also makes a Boveda hygrometer Calibration Kit. We have tested the Calibration Kit and it really works.
The Calibration Kit consists of a zip-lock-type bag with a small 75.5% Humidipak inside. Simply place your hygrometer (analog or digital) in the bag, seal it up, and let it sit for 24 to 36 hours at room temperature. If your hygrometer is accurate, it will read on or close to 75%. If not, then you’ll know how much your hygrometer is off, and can compensate for that amount whenever you check your humidor’s humidity level. If your hygrometer has a calibration screw, simply adjust the dial accordingly.
Finally, once you place your cigars in your newly seasoned humidor, make sure you have enough room between them for air circulation. They don’t all have to be in neat rows like the factory boxes, either. You can even have some cigars leaning on each other to give the cigars below some breathing room.