Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have so many cigars you’ve run out of room to store them? It’s happened to me. Several years ago, I went on a cigar box buying binge and realized that even with 5 decent sized humidors, I had no room for the extra boxes. Though I was never a cheerleader for keeping my cigars in anything other than a traditional cigar humidor, I felt that maybe it was time for a change and decided to make a coolerdor (a.k.a. a “tupperdor”) for my overstock. I figured, why not? I had received numerous emails over the years from some very resourceful cigar smokers who have had great success with homegrown humidors made from beer coolers, storage bins, even old refrigerators. Besides having an overabundance of cigars – and there’s nothing wrong with that – some cigar smokers just don’t want to deal with the expense of buying a big cedar lined humidor. Moreover, traditional wooden humidors for sale can run anywhere from $49.95 to $4,995.00.
Though it’s not as pretty as a traditional humidor, a coolerdor, if setup correctly, does a great job of keeping your cigars fresh for less than the price of even the cheapest traditional humidor.
So, let’s get into making and how to store cigars in a coolerdor. First, decide how much room you’ll need for your cigars, and take into account if you’ll be storing loose cigars (singles), cigar boxes, or both. In my case, I used my coolerdor specifically for boxes. I’ll get into why later on. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A large beer cooler or plastic storage bin/tub.
- A humidifier designed to humidify about 250 cigars (preferably a crystal-based model).
- A digital hygrometer to keep tabs on your temperature and humidity.
- A calibration kit to ensure the hygrometer is accurate.
- Distilled water for filling and refilling the humidifier.
- Optional: Empty Spanish cedar cigar boxes for storing single cigars (with or without a lid), or Spanish cedar strips (in case you want to line the interior of your ‘dor like a traditional cigar humidor.)
You can probably purchase all of the above for less than $50. Once you have all the parts, you want to set up your coolerdor the same way you would a traditional humidor, except no pre-seasoning is required, which can take days for a traditional humidor.
- Calibrate the hygrometer with a good calibration kit (I recommend the Boveda calibration kit because it really works.) Since this will take up to 6 hours, do that first.
- Completely fill the humidifier with distilled water and make sure all of the water has been absorbed.
- Affix the humidifier in the center of the ‘dor’s lid. (Note: Depending on the size of your coolerdor you may need more than one humidifier.)
- Place the hygrometer in the spot of your choosing: a corner under the lid, one of the walls of the box, on the bottom, or on top of one of the cigar boxes, but not too close to the humidifier.
- Place your cigar boxes, sealed, open, or closed in the ‘dor, put on the lid, and you’re done. Be sure to keep your coolerdor in a cool, dark space if you can.
- Check the humidifier and hygrometer regularly, and recharge your humidifier as needed.
The reason I only keep factory boxed cigars in my coolerdor is because I like that fact that they will continue to age in their cedar boxes. So you get the best of both worlds: A closed, virtually air-tight system and the advantage of cedar aging as it’s done in the factory. As my traditional humidors begin to empty out, I move my coolerdor cigars in.
In an article we ran in CigarAdvisor some time ago titled“How My Katrinador Saved My Cigars,“ the writer, Bob “The Reverend Hurricane” Meyn, detailed the benefits of building his coolerdor. He used a 36-qt. red cooler, lined it with Spanish cedar planks, and because he has a lot of single cigars, used old cigar boxes for storage and purchased a big humidifier. Since the Rev lives in New Orleans, which tends to flood during the occasional hurricane, here’s what he wrote:
“The Katrinador has actually saved The Rev’s cigars once floating briefly in a hotel pool in Birmingham, Alabama during the evacuation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina,” wrote the Rev.
The Rev also noted that his Katrinador has “functioned as well as any expensive humidor and easily outperformed them for maintaining the quality of my smokes, which in my opinion, is the real purpose of a humidor.” Based on the experience I’ve had with my coolerdor, all I can add to that is, AMEN.
Though I don’t want to discourage anyone from buying a traditional humidor, if you’d rather spend your money on more cigars, the choice is yours.
One of the email questions I receive on a pretty regular basis is, “After delivery, how long should I keep my cigars in the humidor before smoking them?” For all intents and purposes, the cigars should be “smoke ready” right out of the box. Just about all of the leading manufacturers age their cigars for a minimum of 6-months in Spanish cedar-lined rooms before shipping. Depending on the cigars, it could be as long as three to five years, and in some cases, even longer; then you have the tobaccos, themselves, which may have been aged for any number of years. It’s safe to presume that a sizable segment of cigar smokers smoke that first cigar out of the box within the first few minutes the package arrives, or at least within the first 24 hrs. Why not, right? Continue reading
It would be easier to weigh than count the number of emails I’ve received over the years with questions about cigar humidors, especially on how to season one. I’ve written about how to season a humidor on more than one occasion; I’ve even done a video on how to season a humidor which you’ll see at the end of this article. But before you watch the video, read what to do first, since there are some things covered in this article that may not be in the video, and vice versa; then it will all come together nicely.
So, you’ve just purchased a new humidor because your cigars are starting to pile up and you want to keep them fresh for as long as necessary. Here’s what to do: Continue reading
We all do it. When buying cigars, we leaf through the catalog or dissect the website looking for a deal. Open emails that scream about savings of 50, 60, 70% or more on great cigars, then pore over the coupons to find out which deal saves the most cash while bringing home the most cigars. Inside all of us is a hardcore cigar value hunter – which, I assume, is why you’re here as well. But even the most budget-conscious among us is willing to drop a little extra coin now and again for a “good” cigar. But are we really just burning up money that could be better – or more smartly – spent?
In a word, “yes.” Continue reading
Over the years, I’ve received many emails asking me about freezing cigars and whether it’s OK to store cigars in the freezer or the refrigerator. Let’s start with the latter. NO WAY JOSÉ! True, refrigerators are made to keep foods fresh, but even though cigars are somewhat related to veggies by their nature, the humidity in the fridge is much too low to keep the leaves moist, and your cigars will eventually dry out.
Cigars and humidors are like horses and saddles. We associate them as a dependent set, but you don’t need a saddle to ride a horse, and you don’t need a fancy wooden humidor to store cigars. There is one catch, however: You and the horse will survive without a saddle, but your cigars won’t survive without some form of humidification. For the purposes of this post, I’m talking about wooden desktop cigar humidors, not coolerdors, tupperdors, or other makeshift storage units. Continue reading
Have you seen any of the news this past week? The calendar is kind of weird right now – since 4th of July fell on a Wednesday I’m sure that many people made it a 5-day weekend (and more power to you). In case you missed it, there was another jobs report, and much yelling and screaming ensued; everyone yelled at each other about whether “the Mandate” was a tax or a penalty. Gov. Romney was riding a jet ski, and the President was riding a bus. It’s been a little (too) quiet, though, about where the effort stands to exempt premium, hand-rolled cigars from FDA regulation. So as we wrap up another week full of political news/noise, I thought it was a good time to drop in a few recent updates on the standing of the legislation pending in Congress, HR1639/S1461 – The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. Continue reading
Sorry this is coming a few days after the fact – but I’m still getting my feet back under me after Cigarnival 2012. My original thought was to write something that was a grand recap of everything that happened here at Leaf this past weekend, but “when someone sings his own praises, he always gets the tune too high.” Continue reading
It’s no secret. By purchasing your premium cigars online you can save a lot of money. There’s only one catch; you have to wait for your cigars to be delivered. As a result, I’m often asked how long mail-order cigars should be allowed to rest before smoking them.
Technically speaking, premium handmade cigars should be ready to smoke right out of the factory box when they arrive at the store. If everything was done right at the factory, including the aging time, and the cigars were properly stored by the vendor, your cigars should be OK when they arrive at your house.
It’s happened to everyone who smokes premium cigars – the bad burn caused by poor cigar construction. Whether it’s the cigar going out on you too fast, canoeing, or the wrapper coming undone, a bad burn is one of the most frustrating things that can happen. Since a bad burning cigar requires so much extra work, maybe a better word would be “irritating.” Often times, you’ve spent so much time getting the cigar to straighten out, you don’t even remember how the darn thing tasted.
There are several factors that contribute to a bad burning cigar. Some of these I’ve touched on in past articles. For example, it could be the wrapper was too delicate, too thick and oily, or just an inferior quality or poorly cured leaf. Other factors can be a wrapper leaf that’s too dry, which tends to cause the leaf to unravel. It could also be due to poor rolling. Either the bunch wasn’t rolled carefully enough, or during the bunching process some of the binder, which aids in the burning of a cigar, got tucked into the filler. The result is a canoeing cigar, because there’s nothing in those spots to help the wrapper along. Continue reading