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How to Season a Humidor: The Complete Guide
THE FULL SETUP GUIDE TO SEASONING A HUMIDOR
Updated October 2022
One of the hottest topics we’ve been asked about since Cigar Advisor opened its virtual doors is how to season a humidor. Now some may call it boujee, but there’s something very traditional about storing cigars in a Spanish cedar-lined wooden humidor. Certainly, there are other ways to keep premium cigars fresh and many of them work very effectively. But if you’re interested in owning a wooden humidor there are a number of things you need to know.
I’ve written about this subject on several occasions; I’ve even done a couple of videos on how to season a humidor. (One of them is in this article.) That said, there are some things covered in this text, including lots of useful links, that may not be covered in the video. Be sure to check them out, and when you bring that beautiful new humidor home, it will all come together nicely.
HOW DO I PREPARE MY NEW HUMIDOR?
Preparing your humidor for seasoning is actually pretty easy, but you’ll also need some patience. Some things take a little more time than others. So, let’s start with what materials and tools you’re going to need:
Materials Needed for Seasoning a Humidor:
- The hygrometer that came with the humidor (yours may vary)
- The humidifier that came with the humidor (yours may vary)
- Boveda 75% hygrometer calibration kit
- Small flathead screwdriver
- Fine point permanent marker
- 8 oz. bottle of humidor solution, a.k.a., 50/50 solution.
- 1-gallon bottle of distilled water
- New kitchen sponge, preferably made with natural materials and not pre-soaped.
- Large stainless steel or glass bowl
- Plastic sandwich bag or wrap
- Paper towels
Humidifier & Hygrometer Placement
Most of the better cigar humidors come with a humidifying system. So, the first thing you want to do is hygrometer and humidifier placement. First adhere the base for the humidifier on the underside of the lid in the center. Next, place the base for the hygrometer about an inch or two above the humidifier.
Humidifier & Hygrometer Placement in Glass Top Humidors
If you’re thinking about getting a glass top humidor placing the humidifier and hygrometer in a glass top humidor is done a little differently. Check out this link which explains it all in detail, including many other things you need to know about glass top humidors.
Prepping the Hygrometer
Always make sure your hygrometer is as well-calibrated as possible. Because they’re not perfect, unless you’re working in a high-tech research lab, this is where the Boveda 75% hygrometer calibration shown below kit comes in. It will tell you the accuracy of your hygrometer and the instructions in the kit are easy to follow.
Boveda One-Step Calibration Kit
Note! This process will also take a number of hours to complete.
Once calibrated, the hygrometer should read 75% RH (Relative Humidity). If it’s off by +/- 2%, leave it. If it’s more than that and your hygrometer has a calibration screw in the rear, use the small screwdriver to turn it until it reads 75%. You can also place the hygrometer back in the calibration bag for another half hour to see if it’s holding at 75%. If the hygrometer doesn’t have a calibration screw, simply note the number of points higher or lower. Then, using a fine point permanent marker write the difference on the back of the hygrometer, for example: +4%, -6%.
Prepping the Humidifier
There are only two things you should ever use in your humidifier: distilled water or a wetting solution (50% polyglycol/50% distilled water) as prescribed by your humidor’s manufacturer. If you’re not sure, use distilled water.
If the humidifier is the “old school” round or rectangular green oasis foam filled humidifier, place the humidifier in the bowl, shake the bottle of wetting solution and add solution until the humidifier is so saturated the solution is spilling out of it. You want to get the humidifier as soaked as possible, especially the first time. Let it soak up the solution for at least 15 minutes.
If you have a crystal type humidifier, fill it to the top of the screen either with distilled water or the manufacturer’s preferred solution. (FYI: Crystal type humidifiers are also preferred over green oasis foam models because they absorb more water, last longer, and are resistant to mold.)
Famous Smoke Shop Humidior Solution
Once the humidifier is completely saturated, turn it upside down and shake it over the bowl or a sink to ensure all of the water has been absorbed.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR A HUMIDOR TO BE SEASONED?
Using the following method, it can take up to several days or more. It takes time and patience, but the end will justify the means. So, now for the fun part.
Seasoning a Humidor: Old-School Method
Empty the bowl of water/solution you used for the humidifier and replace it with clean distilled water. You won’t need a lot.
Take the new kitchen sponge, place it in the bowl of water and squeeze it several times to see if any soap-like bubbles appear. (Even non-pre-soaped sponges will do this.) Once you’re certain the sponge is clear, dump the water and again add fresh distilled water to the bowl. You can even add some wetting solution. Wet the sponge with the water, not too heavily, and neatly wipe the entire inside of the humidor, including the underside of the lid. (You can also use a clean 1½” paint brush.)
Note! Do not oversaturate the wood.
If the humidor came with dividers and/or a top tray, coat them, too. Put the humidifier and hygrometer in place, then put in the dividers however you like.
Next, soak the sponge and squeeze out just enough water so the sponge is still saturated and heavy, but not dripping. Put the plastic sandwich bag on the bottom middle of the humidor and place the sponge on top of the plastic sandwich bag. If you plan on using the top tray, put that in next. Otherwise, close the humidor, then put it somewhere it won’t be disturbed.
Let the box sit for at least three full days. As the sponge evaporates, the cedar walls will absorb the moisture. Also, 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, and check the sponge daily. If it’s getting dry, that’s all she wrote.
By that time, the hygrometer should be reading 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. Now, you can finally put in your cigars. Your cigars are now ready to enjoy.
WHAT IS THE FASTEST WAY TO SEASON A HUMIDOR?
There’s also a new school way to season your humidor quickly and effectively. The big difference is you won’t need most of the materials listed above. To learn how to use this method see How To Season a Cigar Humidor with Boveda by Cigar Advisor writer, Paul Lukens.
That said, like a master carpenter who can also build without power tools, it’s good to know the old school method.
HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR HUMIDOR
Once you’ve prepped and seasoned your new humidor you have to maintain it. The good news is a well-seasoned humidor generally requires pretty low maintenance. Following are some tips that will help keep your humidor in top shape.
- Never place the humidor in a room that’s prone to wide sweeps in temperature. Also keep the box away from direct sun or lamp light that can raise the temperature and humidity to risky levels. A cooler, shaded spot is ideal.
- Try to keep your humidor at least 50% full, but no more than 75% to 80% capacity. Cigars need air circulation and by not overfilling, the ebb & flow of humidified air will be distributed more consistently and evenly.
- Your RH should average about 67% but note that some cigar smokers like it lower or higher. Likewise, as you continue to smoke cigars, you’ll find the RH level that’s best for you. When the hygrometer dips below 64%, it may be time to recharge the humidifier. Add more distilled water or wetting solution, but don’t overdo it. You may only need a little bit to get the RH back to where you want it.
- Try to keep the inside humidor temperature at about 65 to 70-degrees and try to not let it go higher than 75-degrees. If the temperature gets as high as 80-degrees, the cigars can become very spongy.
- Check your humidifier and hygrometer at least once a week.
- When recharging green oasis foam models, use distilled water only. Using wetting solution with each charging will eventually clog the unit.
Also, make sure your humidifier and hygrometer are reliable and the right size for your particular humidor As mentioned earlier, many humidors like the Colibri Heritage below come with a good quality humidification system.
Colibri Heritage Humidor
For humidors that come with lesser quality factory humidification systems, they can be replaced at a pretty reasonable cost. Here are several options for you:
Boveda 320 Gram Humidity Pack – 69%
The Boveda 320 gram pack offers enough 69% RH to cover 100 cigars. Boveda has become the new humidification standard for a lot of cigar smokers. They last up to several months, but eventually have to be replaced. For smaller humidors, the individual Boveda packs are also very reliable. And all Boveda packs come in a wide range of relative humidity percentages.
Xikar Crystal Humidifier – 50 count
For smaller humidors that come with a round oasis foam type humidifier, this small round crystal humidifier from Xikar, for up to 50 cigars, makes a great replacement.
Xikar Digital Hygrometer
As for hygrometers, digital is the way to go. Not all are adjustable, but they tend to read within a margin of +/- 2%, so they’re very reliable and can be used in any size humidor. This accurate rectangular hygrometer from Xikar is one way to go. In addition to RH, it also clearly displays temperature. Xikar is known for their quality and back their products for life.
Finally, there are many other humidification devices available to you depending on your preference and budget.
HOW TO RE-SEASON A HUMIDOR
Now that we’ve gone through the entire humidor seasoning process, there are going to be times when your humidor needs to be re-seasoned. This begs the following question…
How often should I season my humidor?
If you’ve done it right the first time, you shouldn’t have to season it again for a number of years—or ever. This depends on where the humidor is located, the mean temperature year-round, how often the humidor is monitored and maintained, and last but not least—the quality of the humidor itself.
Re-seasoning your humidor
Generally speaking, if you know your humidor has a good seal and that the hygrometer is accurate, but you’ve been refilling the humidifier a lot more often, it could be that the Spanish cedar walls are beginning to dry out. That would be one reason to re-season.
Re-seasoning is just like seasoning minus the prepping of the hygrometer and humidifier. So you should follow the steps laid out above. However, the best method for re-seasoning is to follow the steps for seasoning your humidor with Boveda.
If you’ve read this far, now you know just about everything that goes into seasoning and maintaining a humidor. If you’re serious about keeping your cigars in right off the factory floor condition, I hope you found this article helpful and even worth sharing with your cigar smoking friends.