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.