Why cigar humidification matters and what to use
Cigar humidification: it's the most important part of keeping your cigars in healthy smoking condition. Keeping your cigars properly humidified is one of the simplest aspects of collecting premium cigars. Yet, it's also the one thing that causes cigar smokers the most concern. It's no surprise; dried-out cigars are a cigar smoker's biggest fear.
Why is cigar humidification important?
Without proper humidification, premium handmade cigars will only last so long. So it's important that you keep them as close to the conditions they underwent while aging in the factory as possible. In fact, if you order cigars online, they may even dry out a little during transit on the way to your house. On the other hand, they may arrive too moist. If you don't have something to store them in that will help them "settle" to a proper relative humidity and temperature, you might as well have rolled-up the money you paid for your cigars and smoked that.
Let’s start with cigar humidors. There are literally thousands of cigar humidors for sale. So, if you're going to be keeping your cigars for a while, be it simply for storage or for home aging your cigars, you want to choose a box that has a good cigar humidification system. This boils down to a humidifier to keep your cigars supple and stable, plus a hygrometer for keeping track of the amount of humidification your smokes are getting and the temperature inside your cigar humidor. Although there are several alternatives for keeping cigars fresh, start with a humidor that will last for years. Cheap humidors are just a waste of your hard-earned dollars. You don't have to buy the most expensive cigar humidor, either. As long as you buy the best cigar humidor for your particular storage situation. One more thing: Boat owners and cigar smokers share one thing in common: respectively speaking, whatever size boat or humidor they own, they eventually want a bigger one. If you're an avid cigar smoker, trust me, your collection will grow faster than you may have thought at the time of purchase. Therefore, it helps to buy a humidor that you can grow into.
Types of Cigar Humidification
Years ago, even the best cigar humidors were limited to the type of cigar humidifier that came with them. Today, you have a number of ways at your disposal to keep your cigars fresh. The key is buying the right size humidifier for your humidor. A humidor humidifier made for 25 cigars is not going to do much good if your collection consists of 100 cigars. Note: For any cigar humidifier that requires the application of water, use ONLY distilled water. NEVER use tap or spring water which can lead to mold growth or mineral deposits in the unit.
Green Oasis Foam
The most basic type of cigar humidifier is the good ol’ green oasis floral foam. Thanks to advances in cigar humidification, they've become less popular, but many cigar humidor manufacturers still include them, and though they require a little more labor, with proper use, they'll do the job. To use one you'll need either distilled water or 50/50 solution.
Beads, Crystals and Gels
The trend in recent years has been toward humidor humidifiers that come with cigar humidification beads or crystals. Several companies such as Xikar and Cigar Classics and Cigar Monster make these newfangled humidifiers. You simply fill the unit with water and the crystals or beads expand forming a gel-like substance that includes a mold retardant. They also last much longer than oasis foam and require less maintenance. Cigar Monster also offers Monster Magma, a gel-type humidor humidifier. You simply open the top of the jar and the gel inside releases moist air into your humidor's biosphere. Note that unlike most humidor humidifiers, jar-type gels do not go under the lid; rather, they lie on the bottom of the humidor, usually in a corner.
Cigar Humidification Packets
Perhaps the neatest way to keep your cigars in tip-top condition is by using a cigar humidification packet. The best packet cigar humidification system is made by Boveda. These packets not only require the least amount of work, but they are available in a variety of relative humidity (RH) choices. If you like your cigars a little drier, use the 65% packets. Like your cigars, a bit on the moist side, use the 72% or 75%. Even if either of the above apply to you, if you live in a particularly dry area like the American Southwest, you may need a higher RH humidification packet, so keep that in mind, and vice-versa.
IMPORTANT: If you go with the Boveda system, note that you will need one (1) packet for every 25 cigars.
Electronic Cigar Humidifiers
If you have a particularly large collection and keep your cigars in a cabinet-type cigar humidor or other large unit, you may want to opt for an electronic cigar humidifier. Cigar Oasis has been the leader in this field and not unlike the Boveda cigar humidification packets, they require very little maintenance. They make a model for practically every type of end table or cabinet humidor, including an under-the-lid humidor humidifier for cigar smokers who have 75 - 100 count humidors. One of the advantages to the Cigar Oasis electronic humidifiers is they come with all the bells & whistles, like a built-in digital hygrometer and thermometer so you can see just how much humidity and temperature your cigars are getting. Plus they're adjustable, and some models include a warning light telling when it's time to replace the cartridge.
Other cigar humidifiers
There are also wick-type humidor humidifiers, like those made by Paradigm. They hold twice as much distilled water as green oasis foam and are very reliable. An exclusive bacteria and fungus-resistant evaporative material stays wet on the surface longer so fewer refills are required. Here again, make sure you buy the wick-type humidifier that's right for your humidor's cigar capacity.
Now you know everything about cigar humidification. Smoke on, brothers and sisters, and enjoy a fresh cigar every time you light up!
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, but because information on premium cigars is constantly evolving, I don't claim to know every single detail about every subject on which I write. Therefore, I remain open-minded and always willing to learn more. So, whether you agree, disagree, or have more to add to this subject based on your own experience, please leave a comment.
Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com 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.Show all Gary Korb's Articles