How to “season” a cigar humidor – an alternative method

 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.

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Comments

  1. Joe Ricucci says:

    I used purified water thinking it was the same close the box yet. Can this be corrected ??? did i ruin my humidor ???

  2. Gary Korb says:

    Hi Joe,
    It depends on how much purified water you used. It’s probably not too bad, since purified water may not have as many minerals, etc. Using the original method, if you only used the purified water on the sponge or for wetting the walls, I probably wouldn’t be too concerned. But if you used it to soak your humidifier, I would take the unit and re soak it again in distilled water. That will help flush out any trace minerals. Finally, just keep an eye on everything once the box has settled and you’ve added the cigars. They’ll most likely be fine.

  3. Matt Hapunowicz says:

    I just got a new humidor and started seasoning it. I was thinking of using the Tobacco left over from the cigar box (Acid cigars by Drew Estate) and put with the cigars in the humidor. Is this a good idea or no?

  4. Gary Korb says:

    You could use the tobacco that Drew Estate puts in their boxes, but I don’t think it’s going to add very much to the process. Besides, I think they put that stuff in the boxes for three reasons:
    1) It cushions the cigars
    2) It makes for a nice presentation
    3) It’s a great way for them to get rid of all that leftover tobacco
    ;-)

    Seriously, you can try it, as it won’t hurt anything. Let us know if it works.
    ~ Gary

  5. Mark Choate says:

    I have a new humidor and have seasoned it. However, the wood swelled just a bit creating a tight seal and the humidity level went to a nice 72%. then, I placed approx. 50 or so cigars in. The humidity then dropped to 60% and even with 3 humidifiers in it, the humidity has not risen past 63%. Also, the cover does not fit tightly any more. This was 2 1/2 weeks ago.

    Has the seal been ruined? Can one repair the seal by adding foam or rubber stripping? Or is this from all of the dry cigars being placed in it?
    thanks,

  6. Gary Korb says:

    Hi Mark,
    It’s normal for the wood to swell when you wet it. Conversely, when it begns to dry out it will shrink. My first question is, was the seal a bit loose when you bought it, or is it more loose now?

    It could be the loose seal is causing a leak, which is permitting air to get in and keeping the RH down. It could also be your hygrometer. See my CigarAdvisor blog about this: http://www.cigaradvisor.com/blog/cigars/my-cigars-are-fine-in-spite-of-what-my-hygrometer-says

    I can’t say for sure if the seal is ruined, and you can’t keep adding water to keep it tight. I know in some cases, weather stripping has been used effectively to fix a seal, so that is certainly an option. You may notice in the summer, the lid will start to fit a little better as the wood expands from normal humidity.

    Finally, if the cigars were that dry, after 2 1/2 weeks they would have drunk up a good portion of the moisture. Make sure you have a good hygrometer that is made to handle the amount of cigars for your size humidor and that it is fully charged. And last, but not least, how do the cigars feel? If you can get and keep the RH at around 66% average, your cigars should be fine.

  7. Chris Boczkus says:

    I sponged the inside of my humidor with the 50/50 solution sent with my humidor…. Not realizing I should have used distilled H2O only…. How badly did I ruin my humidor ?????

  8. Gary Korb says:

    Hi Chris,
    Don’t worry. Using 50/50 is fine, because it has the mold retardant in it, so in some ways it’s actually better. Thing is, you shouldn’t wet down the walls of a new humidor unless it’s just not taking to normal seasoning. Too much water or 50/50 can seep into the joints and cause splitting at the corners, especially if the wood swells too much. The best solution is to season the box using the wet sponge method, or a Bóveda seasoning pack (http://www.famous-smoke.com/boveda+one+step+seasoning+kit/item+23349). Finally, if you used a light coat, the wood should have absorbed it pretty quickly, and as long as you didn’t do it several times, should be OK.

  9. Chris Boczkus says:

    Thanks for your quick reply- I only did it once, VERY dry sponge, from what I read somewhere, it said to wipe down walls, but I was concerned about warpage, so I probably did it TOO light. I’m very, very glad I found this site.. I’m very new to cigars, I know very little, but THANKS TO YOU and THIS SITE, I’m confident going forward… You WILL inevitably be fielding my questions in the near and long term future.
    Thanks again….

  10. Jesse says:

    I have a 50 cigar humi that ive had for about 3 weeks now and last night i was admiring my collection…..and i noticed this white chalky looking substance on one of the walls inside..then my heart stopped and suddenly i had trouble breathing….the first thing that came to my mind was mold. Then i did a bit of research considering im fairly new to cigars and discovered mineral trace….they only thing that throws me off is that i used nothing out 100% distilled water when i seasoned it and i currently have two 72% Boveda packs inside and my rh is and has been 70-71% since I’ve had my smokes in there. Another thing i should note is that i did lightly wipe it down with distilled water when i first got it……..if you guys can help me out i would greatly appreciate it.

  11. Gary Korb says:

    Hi Jesse,
    First, I don’t think you have a serious mold problem, but there’s no need to wipe down the inside walls of a new humidor if it has a good seal and you season it properly. That aside, I had a similar problem with one of my humidors. White powdery substance under the humidifier. I cleaned it off and it’s been fine ever since. Is there any of this white stuff on the cigars? If so, it could be bloom, and that will wipe off easily with a finger.

    What I think you should do is use http://www.famous-smoke.com/the+monster+venom+pg+solution+8+ounce+bottle/item+33872 (or similar wetting solution) from now on. The advantage to 50/50 solution is the polyglycol helps prevent mold from forming. Secondly, you’re humidity is a bit high. I would wipe off the white stuff with a clean rag wet with 50/50 solution. If you prefer to use Boveda packs, get the 69% packs, or remove one of the packs in there now to lower the RH, and try to get the temperature down, too.

    Good luck,
    G~

  12. Jesse says:

    Thanks Gary i appreciate your help

  13. Jim says:

    I seasoned my humidor with the old method, checked and calibrated properly. It held at first and now it seems to not hold moisture. I ran a small smoke test and it has a good seal. I got rid of my back up humidor and now of course the new one is not holding much above 60%. I have about 30 cigars in there. Can I use the Boveda seasoning bag with the cigars in the humidor to attempt to season now or do I have to empty her out first??

  14. Jim,

    Great question. Gary is out of the office today, so I’ll do my best to answer.

    You should absolutely empty the humidor before you start the seasoning kit. Reason being that the humidity will rise to about 85% during the process, which is NOT good for your cigars.

    As for the cigars, carefully place them in a ziplock bag with a small humidifier inside the bag and keep the bag in a dark spot out of direct light. If you don’t have a small humidifier, try using a small sponge (maybe tare a standard sponge in half if you can spare one) but don’t put the sponge in sopping wet, squeeze out the water so it’s damp and place the sponge in another bag, but leave this bag slightly open so the moisture can work its way out into the outer ziplock bag. Again, don’t put a sopping wet sponge in the bag, squeeze it out. Keep an eye on your cigars periodically just to make sure they aren’t getting too spongy, if they are, take out the sponge bag.

    The seasoning kit takes about 5 days, your cigars will be safe in the ziplock bag.

    Hope that helps!

  15. Mike says:

    My new humidor holds 100 cigars so I was going to use 4 seasoning boveda packets. After the 14 days should I take the bovedas out and leave the humidor alone with no humidification to see if its holding? Also I plan on using the 75% packs should I season just to 75%? Thanks

  16. Sauntered-In says:

    I recently received a new humidor and in the process of seasoning it by using the slower method of not wiping the interior with distilled water; just allowing the gell crystals to do the job. Unfortunately I used strictly the 50/50 solution to saturate the unit instead of using 1/2 50/50 solution and 1/2 distilled water. Did I ruin the humidifier? What can I do to correct the mistake?

  17. Mike says:

    Got a new 100 count humidor and I was gonna use 4 seasoning boveda packets then afterwards use the 75% bovedas for humidification, should I wait until the humidity reaches 75% before putting in the packs and cigars?

  18. Gary Korb says:

    Hi,
    Yes, but unless you live in a particularly dry climate, if the humidor has seasoned well, I would suggest buying the 69% packet. Leave those seasoning packs in the humi as long as possible. Calibrate your hygrometer first, so you know where your levels are at before you put in the cigars.

    Good luck,
    G~

  19. Gary Korb says:

    To Sauntered-in: if it’s a crystal-based humidifier, 50/50 is good. Only if it’s a green oasis foam model should you cut the recharging solution.

  20. Mike says:

    Ok thanks Gary and I live in New York with very dry cold air that’s why I want to use the 75% packets.

  21. Andrew says:

    Just received a 120 count humidor, and I have 5 seasoning packets in it. My hygrometer is properly calibrated, and the humidity has already jumped from 52 to 61% in a couple hours. During seasoning, am i looking for the sweet spot of 68-72%, or 85%? Either way, if the traget percentage is reached before 14 days, is it safe to consider the humidor “seasoned,” remove the packts and add the cigars?

    Thanks for your help!

  22. Gary Korb says:

    Hi Andrew,
    When seasoning your humidor, you want the humidity as high as possible before putting the cigars in. The more moisture the cedar is able to absorb, the better, because, much like the Boveda packs, Spanish Cedar absorbs and expels moisture as needed.
    As for your second question, yes, but make sure the box is consistently at 85% (or within range) for a few days before you put in the cigars.

  23. Jonathan says:

    I bought 3 boveda seasoning packs and dropped them in my brand new don salvatore humidor 1658 silver studded chest on their website. It has been a full week and the humidity has not gotten u past 53? Is his because i didnt get enough packets their websit says 2 for first 50 one for each 50 after that.

  24. mike says:

    i recieved a new humador and tested the hygrometer witht the salt meathod and adjusted to the right % and then installed it in humador and then instead of wetting the walls i used a bowl with distilled water in it and placed it in the humador. from the directions i used it should go to around 80% after 2 to 3 days. this is the third day and the hygrometer reads 72%. with the bowl still in. Would I assume that the hygrometer is set right and then put in the humidifacation device charged with distilled water and leave it for 2 more days and then it should be set to 70%. then put cigars in?

  25. Gary Korb says:

    Hey Mike,
    Personally, I prefer using a new clean sponge dampened with distilled water. It evaporates more quickly and does a better job. Also, unless the manufacturer SPECIFICALLY says to wet the walls, this is NOT a good idea, so I’m glad you avoided that. If you have to wet them, use 50/50 solution, and only lightly. Replace the bowl with a sponge (put in on a baggie to prevent soaking the base of the box) and in two more days your RH should be up to about 85%. That said, 72% is acceptable, so if you want to go ahead and put the cigars in, give it a try.

  26. Robby says:

    Hey Gary –
    Just got a 100 count and put an 85% seasoning kit. What should I do next? I just want to make sure I do everything right.
    - RB

  27. Gary Korb says:

    Hi Robby,
    There should be instructions on the packet, but here goes: Make sure your humidifier is fully charged (filled with distilled water) and in position. Place the bag on the bottom of the box and close the lid. When the humidor is consistently up in the 80% – 85% region for several days, remove the pack. Let the RH slide down to about 75% then put in your cigars. You can also watch some helpful videos at Boveda’s website: http://www.bovedainc.com/videos/

  28. victor says:

    Hello
    I am very new to this tasty hobby.I received my first humidor this past christmas(very excited) but have a lot to learn. I since purchased a larger humidor and a oasis ultra electronic humidifacation device.I installed it per the directions seasoning the humidor befor and calibrated the hygrometers(digital and analog) now the oasis reads 69.9 to around 71 the analog reads 72 and the digital reads 82 to 84 calibrated the digital and analog at the same time so im baffled why they are so far off. the oasis only tends to run when its read ing drops below 69.9. also if im using the electronic humidifier is there any need to put the humidifier cartridge that came with the humidor back in with the eletric unit. Any advise is greatly appreciated. THANKS VIC from md.

  29. This is certainly a doozy considering you have three hygrometers giving you three different readings and it can make things rather confusing. The short answer though is to simply recalibrate all three. The Oasis should be the closest to the true humidity inside your humidor which leads me to believe the analog is right on par with its reading. The digital however seems to be giving a false reading. If you calibrate them all at once again, using the salt cap test in the same bag, you should get the proper readings on all three devices with a margin of +/- 3% at most. Once you do this, place all three back inside your humidor and let us know what the readings are after a day or two. Also, take the humidifier that came with the humidor out. It can only increase the humidity in your humidor which can encourage mold growth. Another thought that comes to mind is if you put a hygrometer next to a humidification device, it can obviously give you a higher reading than usual. In any case, recalibrate and let us know what you find.

  30. victor says:

    I was wondering would having to many or to few cigars in a humidor drastically affect the humidity in your humidor

  31. Hi Victor,
    The short answer is, “yes.” There are lots of good reasons to keep a full humidor, not the least of which is having a nice variety of smokes. But as it relates to humidity, having more cigars will mean more stable humidity in the humidor, as well improve the ability to “bounce back” more quickly after being opened.

  32. Mark says:

    I just bought 16 cigars and a new humidor. I started seasoning the humidor tonight and hope to put the cigars in Friday. What should I do with the cigars in the meantime? If they can go in Friday, or whenever, how long should they sit before they are in good shape? Thanks!