Cigar Humidification

Winter Humidor Maintenance Tips

Keep Your Cigars Fresh in the Colder Season

Winter is no cigar lover’s favorite season…at least when it comes to smoking. It might be easy to just let them hibernate with you. Humidors, however, need constant care. If you’re smoking less—even not at all—during the cold snap, the cigars in your humidor still need seasonal maintenance…especially during winter months. Let’s talk about why.

Cold air is dry air.

Summer might have sweltering humidity levels, but on average, winter months will have less. Colder air holds less moisture than warm air, and this leads to a back swing of your humidor’s relative humidity (RH).

Warm is also dry air.

Warm air may hold more moisture, but the toastiness pumped into your home via baseboard or central air is not naturally infused with moisture like it would be outside; heating systems produce a dry heat.

It’s a double whammy. The air was already low on RH from the season alone. And now your heater is acting like a blow dryer—wicking up all the moisture. The Cigar Advisor offices routinely see 18-20% RH levels in the colder months. And as we all should know, that’s a lethal level of dry for our favorite cigars.

cigar advisor winter humidor maintenance tips - hygrometer reading dangerously low humidity
Warm air, dry air. Artificial heat is notoriously dry. It’s why your skin itches in winter. Many of us require humidifiers for comfort during the colder months. Our cigars do, too!

Why are dry cigars a problem?

As John Pullo explained in his article on cigar humidification and why it matters, “Give your cigars a properly humidified home, and they’ll stay fresh forever. But once removed from a humidified environment, a premium handmade cigar has its limits: a few days, maybe a week, given the surrounding conditions. As it dries, the tobacco becomes brittle; the cigar may crack when you cut it or come apart as you smoke it. Even if the wrapper leaf survives, a too-dry cigar will burn quickly and taste flat or harsh.”

Old Man Winter accelerates this factor. By how much is hard to say, but let’s put it this way: I’ve seen cigars crack within a few hours of being exposed to extremely dry air.

Check your humidor’s seal at the start of winter.

Ideally, you should be checking your humidor’s seal with the ‘dollar bill test’ at the change of every season. At the very least, do it at the major seasonal changes: summer and winter. Checking the seal is easy. It only costs a dollar and you even get to keep your cash…

If your humidor fails the dollar test, it’s time to replace it. You may have seen some kludge fixes out there, but trust us, you’re better off buying a new one and not being sorry later.

How do I get my humidor ready for winter?

Now that your seal’s been squared away, likely notice a humidity dip in your humidor within a few days of turning on your heat. How much depends on where you live, how much you’re using the heat, the temperature, and so on.

cigar advisor winter humidor maintenance tips - boveda 69% 10-pack at famous smoke shop
Smaller Boveda packs like these allow you to supplement your humidor in smaller steps, which is better for your cigars.

Stock up on extra Boveda packs, crystal gel jars, or traditional foam humidifiers. You’ll go through them faster during the winter as they’re working overtime to replace the humidity deficit. And even then, it may not be enough. That’s why monitoring your hygrometer during this time is paramount; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

cigar advisor winter humidor maintenance tips - famous humidor solution at famous smoke shop
If you’re using a gel jar, or foam humidifier, try the Famous Humidor Solution to supercharge its performance.

How to fix under-humidified cigars in the winter (rehydrating dry cigars):

If you caught the issue late and your humidor is already bone dry, former Cigar Advisor, John DeTore, offered an easy solution—two Boveda Seasoning packs. They’re typically meant to pop into a new, empty humidor to jumpstart its humidity levels. Normally, we wouldn’t recommend using them with cigars inside, but in an emergency, they’ll turn the tide.

Here’s John’s advice: “If you take this route, remember that these packs are 84% humidity and are meant to season an empty humidor. Because you’re not taking your cigars out, wait two days before adding the second pack. This way, the humidity is introduced gradually to rehydrate your cigars and the humidor’s Spanish cedar lining.”

Keeping an eye on your hygrometer to make sure you aren’t rebounding the humidity levels too much in the opposite direction is important. If your cigars are at risk of being permanently ruined by dry conditions, this fix may save them.

We hope you found these tips helpful. Be sure to share your winter humidor life hacks in the comments below. Happy smoking!