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.
Cigars are, by nature, delicate objects. They are a hand-made product, and one made from a delicate plant. It’s one of the reasons most premium cigars are wrapped in cellophane; it protects the wrapper leaf and helps maintain moisture during shipping. Today I’m going to address some issues that surround shipping cigars, and resting cigars after shipment to ensure the optimal smoking experience. If you’re like most cigar smokers and order cigars online, the question is: Will the cigars be fresh when they arrive? They should be, since cigars can survive almost a month in their boxes or bundles under normal conditions.
The other question is, should you smoke one of your newly-arrived cigars right away? Sure, but it might be better to give your new arrivals a chance to “settle.” Most cigars are, indeed, ready to smoke right out of their factory packaging. But whether you bought them online or at a local cigar store, handmade cigars tend to taste and burn better after at least a few days in your home cigar humidor.
Honestly, I’ve never really understood why cigars seem to taste better after a little nap time in the humi. Maybe it’s just psychological, but they do, and many cigar smokers agree. That said, it’s the “burn better” aspect, whereby, resting cigars may have a more noticeable effect. It might be that some extra moisture accrued in the cigars during shipping. If that’s so, the cigars may burn irregularly. Giving them a chance to “breathe” in a space where they’re not so tightly packed appears to help. Moreover, the cedar in your humidor absorbs some of that extra moisture.
So, the next time you open a fresh box of cigars, give ‘em a break. They’ve traveled a long way to get to you, and resting cigars a little before lighting-up will do both of you some good.
As dictated by tradition, cellos should be removed from your cigars before placing them in your humidor. The primary function of cello wrappers is to protect a premium handmade cigar’s often delicate wrapper during packaging and transit to the retailer. Moreover, they help keep greasy fingers off the merchandise while customers are inspecting them in a cigar store. Yet, there is a belief among cigar smokers that by storing your cigars this way, the flavors in the tobaccos will “marry” causing your cigars to taste differently.
I’m not sure if it’s the main reason a Cigar Advisor survey showed that cigar smokers keep the cellos on their cigars by a margin of almost 2-1. It could be as simple as they just don’t want to take the time removing the cellos every time they buy a box of cigars. Fair enough (though it would be interesting to learn why most of them do).
Some cigar smokers may feel that the likelihood of all the different tobacco flavors marrying with the other cigars in their humidor is reason enough to keep the cellos on. I can only go by my personal experience, which is to say that I remove almost all of the cellos from my cigars and have never noticed a significant flavor shift. If anything, the cigars improve in flavor with age by being “au natural,” and some of my cigars have been in my humidors for years.
There’s a very simple way to test this “myth” of marrying flavors. The next time you buy a box of cigars, if they have cellos on them, remove the cellos from at least five of them and place them in your humidor with your other cigars. Let them sit there for a good month or two. In the meantime, continue to smoke the balance of the cigars at your regular pace. After about two months, smoke one of the un-celloed cigars from your humidor and compare. Chances are they’ll taste better just from having aged-up a couple of months, but they should have the same core character as the celloed cigars. The point is, most cigar smokers keep all of their cigars together, with and without the cellos.
For the record, your cigars will age-up nicely over time even if they are kept in their cellos until lit. I believe that if there was any truth to the “marrying” myth, at least from a negative standpoint, you’d hear a lot more about it. Yet, so far I’ve only heard the sound of silence.
You’ve been smoking cigars on a regular basis for a while now and it’s become a passion. Time to buy a humidor for your cigars. Like most cigar accessories, cigar humidors run from “el cheapo” to “el rico.” Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good, reliable box. Regardless of your budget, there are certain “appointments” your humidor should come with to ensure that your cigars will stay fresh and age properly over time.
First, you want to make sure that the cigar humidor you buy will accommodate the number of cigars you plan to keep on-hand. Someone once told me, the one thing boat owners have in common is, they’re always looking for a bigger boat. The same can be said for cigar humidors. All too often cigar smokers will buy a humidor only to find out several months later that they need another humidor because their cigar collection is growing faster than they can smoke. If you think you need a 50-cigar humidor, it may be to your advantage to invest in a 75 or 100 ct. humidor. Moreover, you can often find cigar humidors on sale and pick up a 100 cigar box for less than a 75 ct. box. Don’t let your budget limit you to a humidor that will only get you so far, only to find out that if you had gone the distance in the first place, you wouldn’t be spending more money a lot sooner than you expected. Finally, you don’t want to have to squeeze all your cigars into a cramped space. Cigars need air flow to age properly, too.
Veneer vs. Solid wood
Most modestly-priced humidors use wood veneer rather than solid wood. Solid wood is more aesthetic, but you will pay more, and many of the better veneered models are virtually indistinguishable from the solid wood models.
Check the seal
A well-made humidor should have tight seal. Obviously, this is not easy to do if you’re ordering a humidor online. One of the “traditional” methods for checking the seal is to close the lid, take a fresh, crisp bill (any denomination) and try to slide the bill in the space between the lid and the base of the humidor. If you have trouble trying to get the bill between the crack, the seal is excellent.
Another way to check the integrity of the seal is to raise the lid of the humidor about 3 inches and let it drop. You should hear a crisp “whoosh” sound. That’s the sound of the air escaping. If the lid drops like a barbell, chances are there may be some leakage. Realistically speaking, no humidor is going to be air-tight. At the very least, you want a seal that’s tight. Don’t forget that wood expands and contracts, too.
Brass hardware is also important for long life, and with regard to the hinges, quadrant hinges, which have arcs that connect the top and bottom of the hinge. The hinges ride on these arcs which keep the lid stable and prevent the hinges from loosening over time. The other preferable form of hinge is a “piano” or “continuous hinge.” This type of hinge runs along the entire length of the back of the base rather than the more common “butterfly” type hinges that you would find on a cabinet, for example.
Deck the halls with bows of cedar
Most cigar humidors are lined with Spanish cedar. It’s a wonderfully fragrant wood that lends a nice character to cigars, and should not be confused with the cedar used for souvenirs or for lining your closet. Spanish cedar also resists cracking as the wood expands and contracts over time.
Some humidors have a Spanish cedar plank covering the floor of the humidor with Spanish cedar panels that line the walls. Some humidors have panels that are removable and extend above the top of the base. In other words, when the lid closes, it closes over the panels. Other humidor models have panels that rest flush with the top of the base with extended panels in the lid section which close inside the base. One isn’t any better than the other, but you should be able to remove the panels for maintenance purposes.
Finally, the thicker the walls, the better the insulation, and the more stable your cigars will be in the long run.
Most humidors today come with a humidifier and a hygrometer, but don’t assume the humidification system is going to do the job just because it came with the humidor. The better manufactures generally include the right size humidifier, but sometimes they don’t. If you’ve done everything right in terms of setting up your humidor (seasoning it),
and your cigars tend to be dry, chances are the humidifier is not up to snuff.
Green “oasis” foam humidifiers will do the job, but over time can get flaky or clogged from using too much 50/50 solution. The way to go these days is with the crystal-based humidifiers. They’re much more reliable, last longer, are easier to maintain and absorb up to four times more the amount of distilled water (or solution) than the foam models. The Boveda pack system is also a smart and reliable way to go, but you have to replace the packs about every three months. There are some cigar smokers who swear by the Boveda method, while others would rather save the room for more cigars.
Some humidors still come with analog hygrometers, but digital hygrometers are considered more reliable and accurate. Until recently, you couldn’t calibrate a digital hygrometer, but that problem’s been solved with some of the newer digital hygrometers which have a calibration button. The other advantage to having a digital model is it also gives you a temperature reading.
Other things to look for when buying a new cigar humidor are dividers for separating your cigars, and top trays, which allow you to stack cigars above the cigars in the base section. Even though many humidors come with dividers and top trays, some cigar smokers opt out of using them, as they can take up valuable space. That’s a call you have to make.
Now that you know everything you need to know before purchasing a new cigar humidor, the key things to keep in mind are size, seal, wall thickness and overall integrity of the box. Remember, just like shopping for cigars, as long as you know what to look for, you can find a good humidor in most any size that will do the job at an affordable price. If your decision comes down to spending a little more for a better-made box, go for it – your cigars are worth it.