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:
Here’s what you’ll need to season your humidor.
- A hygrometer calibration kit.
- A 1-gallon bottle of distilled water.
- A bottle of charging or wetting solution, a.k.a., 50/50 solution or polyglycol solution.
- A new, clean, kitchen sponge, preferably the kind made with natural materials and not prepped with soap.
- A large stainless steel or glass bowl.
- A plastic sandwich bag
- Paper towels or a clean dish rag.
Prepping the accessories
Most good cigar humidors include a humidifier and a hygrometer. So, the first thing you want to do is place the base for the humidifier under the humidor’s lid in the center. Then place the base for the hygrometer away from the humidifier, usually in one of the top corners, or directly above the humidifier. Make sure you place it so the hygrometer doesn’t interfere with the lid when you close it.
Next, make sure the hygrometer is properly calibrated. For this I recommend you purchase a hygrometer calibration kit. This will tell you how accurate your hygrometer is. The instructions on the pack are very easy to follow. This process will take the better part of 6 hours, which is why you want to start with calibration. Besides, you’ll need it for seasoning the box. Once it’s calibrated, put it in place under the lid.
Fill the humidifier only with distilled water, 50/50 solution, or polyglycol solution. If the humidifier is the “old school” green oasis foam type, place the humidifier in the bowl, shake the bottle of 50/50 solution and squeeze the solution into the humidifier until it’s so saturated the solution is spilling out of it. You want to get the humidifier as soaked as possible, especially the first time. You can even pour some distilled water over the humidifier for extra measure. Let it soak up the solution for at least 15 minutes.
If you have a crystal-based humidifier, fill it to the top of the screen with distilled water ONLY. You don’t need 50/50 solution for this type of unit. (FYI: Crystal units are also preferred over green foam oasis models because they absorb much more water, last longer, and are resistant to mold.)
Once the humidifier is completely saturated, turn it upside down and shake it over the bowl or sink to ensure all of the water has been absorbed. Once you’re certain the unit is not dripping, put it in its place.
How to Season a Humidor
Now for the fun part. Once the hygrometer and humidifier are in place, place the sandwich bag in the bottom of the humidor, empty the bowl of water/solution and refill it with fresh distilled water. If the humidor came with dividers and/or a top tray, put them in the humidor, too.
Take the kitchen sponge, place it in the bowl of water and squeeze it several times to see if any soap-like bubbles appear. If not, soak the kitchen sponge with distilled water and squeeze out just enough water so the sponge is still saturated and heavy, but not dripping. Then place the sponge on top of the plastic sandwich bag which will prevent leakage during the seasoning process. Close the humidor, then put it somewhere it won’t be disturbed.
Let the box sit for a minimum of three full days. As the sponge evaporates, the cedar walls will absorb the moisture. NOTE: The longer you keep the sponge in there, the more water will be absorbed, and the better seasoned it will be. Try to let it sit like that for a week if you can.
By that time, the hygrometer should read somewhere in the mid to high 80% range. That’s good! Remove the sponge and the plastic bag, close the lid, and let the box settle down to about 70% RH (relative humidity), then put in the cigars. Give it another couple of days to settle down to about 67%. Your cigars are now ready to enjoy.
Humidor Starter Kits
Now that you know how to season a humidor, it’s time for you to purchase your own humidor and get started! Here are just a few of the terrific combo packs out there that will set you up with a humidor to store your collection and all the accessories you’ll need to store and enjoy your cigars. Click any image for more information, and to shop the humidor kits.
Humidor Do’s and Don’ts
1) Try to keep your humidor filled with cigars to at least 50% capacity. This will keep the ebb & flow of the biosphere more consistent, and in turn, your RH.
2) Your RH should average about 68%. Once it dips below 64%, it’s time to recharge the humidifier by adding more distilled water. (Don’t overdo it. You may only need a little bit of distilled water to get it back up to 68%.)
3) Try to keep the inside humidor temperature at about 65 to 70-degrees, and try to not let it go higher than 75-degrees.
4) Never place the humidor in a room that’s prone to wide sweeps in temperature, or in a part of the room where it will be in direct sun or lamp light.
5) Check your humidifier and hygrometer at least every two to three weeks.
6) When recharging green foam models, use distilled water only. You can add a little 50/50 but if you use it exclusively with each charging, the foam will eventually clog.