What is a humidor? Breaking it down to its most basic components, it’s a humidified box or cabinet designed to keep premium handmade cigars fresh for an indefinite period of time. Of course, there are humidors and there are humidors. When you envision a humidor, you probably think of the traditional wooden box with Spanish cedar walls, a humidifier of some sort, and a hygrometer. Moreover, a traditional humidor can run anywhere from $49.95 to $4,995.00.
There’s also another alternative: the “Coolerdor.” It’s not as pretty as your traditional humidor, but it does a great job of keeping your cigars fresh for a fraction of the price of even the cheapest humidor, which you wouldn’t want to buy anyway.
Though I can’t say when the first coolerdor was made, I can tell you that there are thousands of them being used by cigar smokers, maybe tens of thousands, for any number of reasons: from the low cost of making one, to a reliable unit that can sustain your overstock cigars.
So, let’s get into how to make a coolerdor. As you would before buying any humidor, you have to decide how much room you’ll need to hold your cigars. You should also take into account if you’ll be storing loose (or single) cigars, boxed cigars, or a combination of the two.
The term “coolerdor” speaks to a humidor made from a beer cooler, but you can also use a plastic storage bin (a.k.a. a “Tupperdor”). A beer cooler offers a better seal and insulation, but a storage bin will do the job just as well. 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 holding 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.)
Once you have all the parts, you set up your coolerdor pretty much as you would a traditional humidor.
- Calibrate the hygrometer with a good calibration kit (I recommend Boveda.) This will take up to 6 hours, so 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 that 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. (Hint: After adding your cigars, try moving it around every few days and take readings before you decide where you want it to be permanently situated.)
- Check the humidifier and hygrometer regularly, and recharge your humidifier as needed.
One advantage to making a coolerdor is that no pre-seasoning is required, which can take days with a traditional humidor. You can also store your cigars in their factory boxes, creating a mini-warehouse of sorts for your stash. This also helps keep the cigars insulated.
As a traditionalist, I keep my loose cigars in traditional, wooden, cedar-lined humidors. Extra boxes are placed in my coolerdor and eventually moved to one of my humidors as room allows. Come to think of it, the cigars I keep in the coolerdor are probably just as fresh, if not more so than the cigars I keep in my humidors. If I had known about making my coolerdor sooner, I would only need one humidor instead of five!