Cigars 101

I was unable to calibrate my hygrometer

Q. I followed the standard procedures on how to prepare a humidor prior to initial use, but I was unable to calibrate my hygrometer. I have a box-type humidor with the hygrometer inset into the front of the box. it doesn’t seem to come out without prying it out and I’m afraid I will damage my humidor if I try to pry it out.

My humidity has slowly risen to 90% over the last 2 weeks since I prepped it and began using it. it stabilized at about 72% before I put any cigars in it. I put approx 50 cigars inside and it continued to rise. I put a small dish with rice in it about 8 days ago at 80% and then added about 100 more cigars about 5 days ago, but it is still rising.

My cigars seem fine and I haven’t seen any signs of mold or swelling, but I am still concerned as I have about $600 dollars worth of cigars in there.

Please tell me what you think or suggest.
– Jason B.

A. If the cigars arent overly soft or swollen, which they could be at those humidity levels, then its probably the hygrometer. I understand you dont want to harm the box, so my recommendation is, leave the hygrometer in for cosmetic reasons. Buy a digital unit. That will be accurate within 1%-3%. Then, if your analog hygro has a calibration screw, you can dial it to match the readout on the digital unit and see if it “sticks.” [Or, read the article below titled: “How to know if your analog hygrometer is really working.”]

When you add any large number of fresh cigars in a humidor, its natural for the humidity to rise. It should settle back down after the cedar has had some time to absorb the extra moisture. Could be you also over-prepped the box, or the humidifier holds more water than necessary for the size of the box. Note that the humidity comes mainly from the cedar walls. The humidifier is there just to keep it all balanced.

If the digital unit gives you a high readout, that may point to the humidifier being too damp and you may want to leave the box open for a day and let it dry out a bit. Alternately, you can just remove the humidifier. If the digital hygrometer reads within the normal range, then you know it was the analog all the time. Keep an eye on those cigars. If they start splitting when you smoke them or burn unevenly, you’ll know theyre over-humidified.

One other caveat: Humidity levels over 85% plus high temps can also lead to mold forming in the humidifier, so be careful, especially when you’ve got so much invested in your collection.

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Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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