One of the most often asked questions I get is, "Is there anything you can do if your cigars dry out?" Actually, there is, but it also depends on how far gone they are when you discover the problem.
If the cigars are very hard, like kindling wood, then it may be time to move those cigars to the woodshed. However, if there's even a little bit of moisture left in them, they may be salvageable. The best way to test this is to gently pinch the cigar at the foot. If it crumbles, you've got trouble. Other signs of trouble could be unraveling and cracked wrappers. So how does this happen?
If you don't have good, consistent humidification in your humidor your cigars will begin to lose their oils, and it's the oils that give tobaccos their flavor properties. Here's the rub: By re-humidifying your cigars they will eventually regain their suppleness, but because the oils evaporated during the period in which the cigars were drying-out, its unlikely the flavors will return. IOW, you can usually save stale cigars, but don't expect them to be as savory as when you first opened the box. Note that this applies to cigars that have been going stale over a period of months, not a few days. Cigars which may have dried-out during your vacation or business trip will probably retain most, if not all of their flavor after re-hydration.
The best advice is to try to prevent this from happening in the first place. I have a lot of faith in the integrity of my humidors, but I check them pretty regularly. If, for some reason I've gone more than a week without checking the temperature and RH (relative humidity), I get a little paranoid, but so far, so good.
Finally, make sure you have the right size humidifier for your humidor and a reliable hygrometer. My theory is, it's better to have a humidifier that's a little more than you need. It's easier to control the humidity that way, too. Make sure you also rotate your cigars from the bottom to top every couple of months to ensure all your cigars are getting the proper air flow and moisture. In a future article, I'll explain the proper way to re-humidify your cigars, so stay tuned…