OPERATOR: Hello, Cigar Order Hotline. How may I help you?
OPERATOR: Certainly. Can you tell me what cigars you’ve been smoking?
OPERATOR: I see. Those are machine-made cigars.
CALLER: What does that mean? Continue reading
OPERATOR: Hello, Cigar Hotline. How may I help you?
CALLER: I recently bought some cigars and put them in a container while I seasoned my new humidor. When they were in the container maybe I had too big a humidifier in the there or something, because they are really squishy. When you have over humidified cigars they get soft, right? If so, is there a way to get the extra moisture out and save them?
OPERATOR: Yes, you have over humidified cigars, but there is a way to get them back to normal. Was the container a plastic one, like you would put leftovers in?
OPERATOR: The problem with that kind of container is, they’re so airtight that the humidity builds up much faster. This will also happen if you use a mason jar type humidor for your cigars. Whether you keep your cigars in a humidor or a sealed container you have to allow for some air flow. With sealed containers, if you find the cigars are getting too soft, pop one of the corners. If it’s a mason jar, keep the hook unlocked. If the cigars were fresh when you put them in the container, you probably didn’t need a humidifier at all. The moisture already in the cigars would have kept them fresh long enough to season your humidor. Are they in the humidor now?
OPERATOR: The first thing you should do is sniff them and see if they’re getting moldy. If they’re not, you’re halfway there. Leave the humidor open, too.
CALLER: And if they are moldy?
OPERATOR: Then you may have to use them for mulch. But let’s assume you caught them in time and they’re not moldy. The next thing you want to do is remove the humidifier. Let the RH settle down to at least 65% and try to keep it there. If you smoke the cigars in the condition they’re in now, the wrappers will crack open on you and they may not even stay lit. For now, keep the lid open and let them get some fresh air for a couple of days, then close it again. Check on them every two days by taking a reading from your hygrometer until it reads 65%. Don’t smoke them until they’ve become a bit harder; not too soft, just supple enough to move a little when you gently pinch them.
CALLER: When can I put the humidifier back in?
OPERATOR: When the hygrometer dips down to about 63%. By then your humidifier may have dried out a little, too. It’s much easier to bring cigars back from being too moist than if they’re too dry. When they get too dry, once they’ve been re-humidified, they may have lost some of their flavor and bouquet.
CALLER: Thanks. I’ll give it a try.
OPERATOR: There is another thing you can do, which is similar to what I described. You can dry box them. Take a factory cigar box, preferably made of Spanish cedar, and put all the moist cigars in there for a few days. Put a hygrometer in there, too. The cedar will absorb the moisture from the cigars, and they should be fine. Just keep an eye on them until they feel right. Then you can move them into your humidor.
OPERATOR: Hello, Cigar Order Hotline. How may I help you?
CALLER: I recently ordered a couple of boxes of cigars from both Famous Smoke Shop and CigarAuctioneer, and I noticed that neither order shipped with any type of humidifying device. I’m new to the world of cigars, but of course I only want to smoke fresh cigars and I’ve heard that cigars can dry out in a couple of hours, let alone the week or so it takes to ship to me in California. So why shouldn’t I worry? Or should I?
OPERATOR: When you say “humidifying device,” are you referring to the humidipaks that some online cigar stores add to their packaging?
OPERATOR: First, let me say that Famous Smoke Shop does more to ensure your cigars are properly packed than any other retailer in the industry. Plus, more manufacturers have been including Boveda humidipaks in their factory boxes. Arturo Fuente was the first company to do this, so depending on what cigars are in your order, they may already have a humidipak.
Now, here’s really why you shouldn’t worry: Unless you leave them under a heat lamp, it takes more than a few hours for premium cigars to dry out. Actually, you’d be surprised how resilient cigars can be. I spoke to a customer recently who said he found a cigar in a tuxedo he’d worn to a wedding almost a year ago and the cigar was fine. Note that under normal conditions, cigars will stay fresh in their factory boxes for up to a month. But if I may ask you a question: Were the cigars fresh and supple when you opened the boxes?
OPERATOR: Then you really don’t have anything to worry about, now do you?
CALLER: I suppose not.
OPERATOR: I would also suggest after your cigars arrive that you move them into your humidor and let them rest for about 3 days to settle. Whether they were a little too dry or too damp when they arrived it will help. You may find they will smoke and taste better, too. Enjoy all those fresh cigars!
OPERATOR: Hello, Hygrometer Hotline. How may I help you?
OPERATOR: Was it an analog hygrometer, sir?
CALLER: Yes. The final reading was 65 percent. I turned the calibration screw until it pointed to 75%. Somehow though, the needle keeps jumping back down below the reading I had after the first test. I’ve done this several times already, and I’m starting to get a little annoyed.
OPERATOR: I can understand that sir.
CALLER: I thought about returning the humidor, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. I was also thinking maybe I should just buy a digital hygrometer since they’re supposed to be more accurate anyway. What do you suggest? My cigars are still waiting to move into their new home.
OPERATOR: First of all, most of the analog hygrometers that come with many humidors are cheapos. You did the right thing by calibrating it, and it sounds like you did it right. I’ve also had some models “jump” in the wrong direction when turning the calibration screw. Sometimes, by the time you get the screwdriver in the back and turn the screw, the RH level has changed anyway. They’re hardly ever 100% accurate. It’s funny how some cigar smokers insist on having the hygrometer read perfectly. All I can add to that is, ain’t gonna happen.
CALLER: What about the digital models?
OPERATOR: They are much more accurate overall, but even they don’t always tell the truth.
CALLER: Is it true that there are digital hygrometers that can be calibrated?
a screw on the back of an analog model to the correct number. All they do is reset themselves to 75%, which is what your analog unit would have read after the salt test, had it been accurate from the start.
CALLER: So what good is that?
OPERATOR: Well, one advantage to having a digital hygrometer is that it will also display the temperature, which also plays a big part in the health of your cigars. There’s a relationship between temperature and humidity you need to be aware of.
CALLER: And that is?
OPERATOR: Ideally, you want the temperature to range between 65 and 70 degrees, while keeping the RH, or relative humidity, at about 67% average. Since cigars are hydroscopic, meaning they absorb and discharge moisture, you want to keep a nice ebb-and-flow going so that the moisture content in the humidor stays as balanced as possible.
CALLER: Then what do you recommend I do?
OPERATOR: I would buy a self-calibrating digital model, but I would add one other item to your order -a Boveda Calibration Kit.
CALLER: What’s that?
OPERATOR: It’s a better way to calibrate hygrometers and a lot cleaner, too. Basically, it’s an airtight pouch with a small Boveda humidity pack that puts out 75.5% relative humidity, and can be used for analog and digital hygrometers. When your order arrives, follow the instructions and note the final reading on your hygrometer. If it’s off by a lot, you can reset the digital model and try again to see if it’s more accurate on the second go-round. At that point, however, whatever the unit reads is what it is. If it reads somewhere around 72%, that’s not bad. Then you know that the unit is off by three. Make a note of it, put your cigars in their new home and forget about it. The next time you take a reading, if the hygrometer reads 66%, then you’ll know it’s really 63% and maybe you need to recharge your humidifier.
CALLER: Sounds simple enough.
OPERATOR: It is. You can make yourself crazy trying to make a hygrometer to meet the ideal settings. It’s not worth it. Besides, once you’ve become more experienced at smoking cigars, you’ll know almost immediately if a cigar is properly humidified or not. A series of gentle pinches along the length of several of your cigars will often tell you more about the conditions in your humidor than the hygrometer. Whether you have an analog or digital hygrometer really doesn’t make a whole lot of difference in the big scheme of things.
OPERATOR: You’re welcome. Have a nice day.