Cigars 101

CA Report: How to Lower Humidity in a Cigar Humidor

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Humidor humidity too high? Check out these tips to get your cigar game back on track!

Updated August 2022

The most common humidor problems always involve humidification. Humidity is fickle. And invasive. It gets into every nook and cranny it can. Have you ever noticed that wooden doors get stuck or are harder to open and close during summer? They’re stuck because they absorb excess moisture and swell beyond their original limitations, leaving you to wrestle it each time. Humidor over-humidification is a much bigger nuisance. Unlike that sticky door that’ll shrink again in autumn, your cigars won’t survive an entire season of high humidity unchecked.

We’ll go over how to lower the humidity in your humidor, but first, let’s establish a baseline so that you’ll know when relative humidity (RH) is climbing into dangerous territory.

 

When should you lower the humidity inside your cigar humidor?

We often talk about the 70/70 (70 degrees/70% RH) rule as being obsolete—and that’s because it is. Cigars tend to fare better with a lower humidity percentage than 70. Don’t take my word for it. We asked a bunch of cigar experts for their opinions as well. Combined with our preferences, the average sits at about 67%.

 

cigar advisor how to lower humidity in a cigar humidor - hygrometer reading 81% (too high)
A hygrometer reading 81% is an emergency since your cigars are at serious risk of developing mold. Immediate action is necessary.

If you start seeing your hygrometer going above 72% RH, it’s time to take immediate action to decrease the humidity inside your humidor, jar, travel case, or Ziploc bag (no judgment, we use ‘em, too). There are a few ways to accomplish this.

 

1. Open Sesame: Just open the lid of your humidor.

Were you hoping for something more complex? If so, my apologies. Simply opening your humidor is one of the easiest high-humidity fixes. Start with 30 minutes (an hour in more humid climate). Set an alarm and check your humidor again. Repeat this process until your hygrometer is reading about 67%.

Seems easy, right? But like anything that sounds too easy to be true…there’s a catch.

cigar advisor how to lower humidity in a cigar humidor - picture of open humidor

Opening your humidor is a quick and dirty method to lowering your humidity in a pinch, but it usually won’t solve the problem of what caused it to rise in the first place. High humidor humidity typically comes from one of two common problems:

  • One or more humidifiers that produce too much humidity for the cigars inside it.
  • An over-seasoned humidor.

The first issue is the most common. Especially with cigar newbies. They’ll read online to use a shot glass with distilled water as a cheap and easy humidifier. With only 5-10 cigars in their starter humidor, the water quenches the cigars quickly. The cigars get saturated, and all that excess water has nowhere to go except to be absorbed by the wood or linger within the ambient air inside. It’s a simple formula. The more cigars you have, the more humidity is needed. Consequently, the less you have, the less you need.

If over-seasoning was the culprit, opening your humidor is the fix. Repeat that process until your humidity stabilizes at 67%. Check again in 24 hours and then repeat again if necessary.

If you’re still having issues after ruling out excess humidification and over-seasoning, it’s time to ask yourself if you have enough cigars.

 

2. Who’s thirsty? Give that humidity something else to drink.

 Your goal is to keep your humidor at about 75% capacity. It leaves enough room for air to flow while maintaining an even distribution of moisture. When cigars start running low, the humidity rises in similar fashion to a humidor with a stronger humidifier than it needs. Add some smokes and your hygrometer should level out—slowly—the way your stogies like it.

cigar advisor how to lower humidity in a cigar humidor - cedar cigar box insert
Cedar inserts can be found between rows in many cigar boxes. They’ll help level out moisture and add an aromatic benefit to your cigars!

If you don’t have more cigars to quench your humidity’s thirst, you can add some cedar strips (also called spills). Save the cedar inserts that come inside your cigar boxes for occasions like these. A clean sponge can work in a pinch, too. Just remember to remove it when it starts to feel damp. Wring it out and repeat.

 

3. A smarter humidifier: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Twenty years ago, you pretty much had three options for humidification. Floral foam, sponges, or a shot glass. They all worked the same way—’always on’ humidification. That meant when your cigar reached the level they needed to be, your humidifier continued to mindlessly pump out humidity. It was a time of constant struggle. Cleaning up messes from spilled water, adding and removing humidifiers until you found a good balance. Airing out your humidor in the summer…you practically needed a PhD to figure it out.

Things are much easier today if you know where to look. Two-way systems like Boveda both add and remove humidity as necessary. Modern electronic humidifiers, like those from Cigar Oasis, have fans that automatically shut off when things get too moist. And right back on when things get too dry. These intelligent systems are designed to let you focus less on tinkering and more on smoking.

We’ll go over a few tools below that’ll help you keep your humidor at an even keel.

 

Get yourself a digital hygrometer – like this Xikar Digital Gauge

cigar advisor how to lower humidity in a cigar humidor - xikar digital gauge hygrometer at famous smoke shop
Like G.I. Joe PSAs told us in the 80s, “Knowing is half the battle.” The best way to keep your humidor from becoming over humidified is by checking on it periodically. The Xikar Digital Gauge keeps things simple with an easy-read display, long lasting battery, and a lifetime warranty.

 

Keep it simple – use a Boveda Humidity Pack

cigar advisor how to lower humidity in a cigar humidor - boveda 65% humidity packs at famous smoke shop
I can’t stress enough how much we love our friends at Boveda. With an effective lifespan that stretches into months and years in some humidors, Boveda’s cost-to-simplicity ratio is virtually unmatched. For fewer pesos than a cup of coffee, you get reliable two-way humidification for up to 25 cigars at your choice of 65, 69, and 72% humidity.

 

Supercharge an old-school humidifier – with Famous Humidification Solution

cigar advisor how to lower humidity in a cigar humidor - famous humidifier solution at famous smoke shop
Remember those floral foam beasts I mentioned? If you’re a purist, you can still get the same two-way benefits afforded by Boveda with your legacy humidifier. Just pour this in and its 50/50 solution of distilled water and propylene glycol both emits and absorbs humidity near the 70% mark—very much in the safe

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Jeff Campbell
3 months ago

What if you always have problems with overhumidification and the relative humidity of the surrounding air is 80+? I have this problem at my cabin until fall when I start running the wood burning stove and the humidity drops to significantly lower levels. I’ve heard cat litter.

Jared Gulick
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Campbell

Hey Jeff, thanks for reading!

I would recommend moving your humidor to the coolest, driest spot in the cabin. A closet or cupboard near the floor would be best. Add those cedar spills or inserts mentioned in the article, or even more cigars if there’s room to help bring the humidity down.

If you’re still having issues, I might just put the cigars in a Ziploc bag with a 65% Boveda and seal it.

Local climate can make things really difficult in situations like yours, but the above should be able to help you manage it. Let me know either way and best of luck!

David Krieg
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Campbell

You can try some activated charcoal as a desiccant. Be careful it doesn’t have any other chemicals or scents and you don’t want the goofy little capsules. You can get pellets for use in fish tanks or just bulk granulated/powdered AC in a bag.
You’ll want to put it in some sort of container and probably double-wrap it because clean up of activated charcoal is a pain in the butt. It would be easy enough to fold up a couple pieces of paper and tape the edges to make a nice vapor-permeable packet.
Depending on the length of the summer season and local humidity levels you might have to add a new one occasionally. You can dry out a used one in an oven – 200-250* for a half hour or so.
Naturally you’ll want to keep the unused AC in an airtight container.

Fortis Julio
3 months ago

I use boveda and still have over humidification issues in my 300 ct Audrey. And opening the door can be tricky if you monitor it while you do it you get a spike in humidity while the doors open. I think it’s due to temp difference but I’m not sure. I know my house isn’t at 78% humidity lol but anyways great article.

Dave
3 months ago

All common sense and subjective to each individual. Nice info!

DICK TAYLOR
2 months ago

VERY TRUE..

Jared Gulick

Jared Gulick

Features Editor, Jared Gulick, is a Certified Tobacconist, nerd of all things science, musician and serial abuser of the Oxford comma. He made his way to the Famous Smoke Shop retail store in 2018 and joined the Advisors when it was discovered that he could locate the shift key. Prior to his work in the cigar industry, he was a recording studio engineer, songwriter, and a journalism major at Northampton Community College.

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