Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have so many cigars you’ve run out of room to store them? It’s happened to me. Several years ago, I went on a cigar box buying binge and realized that even with 5 decent sized humidors, I had no room for the extra boxes. Though I was never a cheerleader for keeping my cigars in anything other than a traditional cigar humidor, I felt that maybe it was time for a change and decided to make a coolerdor (a.k.a. a “tupperdor”) for my overstock. I figured, why not? I had received numerous emails over the years from some very resourceful cigar smokers who have had great success with homegrown humidors made from beer coolers, storage bins, even old refrigerators. Besides having an overabundance of cigars – and there’s nothing wrong with that – some cigar smokers just don’t want to deal with the expense of buying a big cedar lined humidor. Moreover, traditional wooden humidors for sale can run anywhere from $49.95 to $4,995.00.
Though it’s not as pretty as a traditional humidor, a coolerdor, if setup correctly, does a great job of keeping your cigars fresh for less than the price of even the cheapest traditional humidor.
So, let’s get into making and how to store cigars in a coolerdor. First, decide how much room you’ll need for your cigars, and take into account if you’ll be storing loose cigars (singles), cigar boxes, or both. In my case, I used my coolerdor specifically for boxes. I’ll get into why later on.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A large beer cooler or plastic storage bin/tub.
- A humidifier designed to humidify about 250 cigars (preferably a crystal-based model).
- A digital hygrometer to keep tabs on your temperature and humidity.
- A calibration kit to ensure the hygrometer is accurate.
- Distilled water for filling and refilling the humidifier.
- Optional: Empty Spanish cedar cigar boxes for storing single cigars (with or without a lid), or Spanish cedar strips (in case you want to line the interior of your ‘dor like a traditional cigar humidor.)
You can probably purchase all of the above for less than $50. Once you have all the parts, you want to set up your coolerdor the same way you would a traditional humidor, except no pre-seasoning is required, which can take days for a traditional humidor.
- Calibrate the hygrometer with a good calibration kit (I recommend the Boveda calibration kit because it really works.) Since this will take up to 6 hours, do that first.
- Completely fill the humidifier with distilled water and make sure all of the water has been absorbed.
- Affix the humidifier in the center of the ‘dor’s lid. (Note: Depending on the size of your coolerdor you may need more than one humidifier.)
- Place the hygrometer in the spot of your choosing: a corner under the lid, one of the walls of the box, on the bottom, or on top of one of the cigar boxes, but not too close to the humidifier.
- Place your cigar boxes, sealed, open, or closed in the ‘dor, put on the lid, and you’re done. Be sure to keep your coolerdor in a cool, dark space if you can.
- Check the humidifier and hygrometer regularly, and recharge your humidifier as needed.
The reason I only keep factory boxed cigars in my coolerdor is because I like that fact that they will continue to age in their cedar boxes. So you get the best of both worlds: A closed, virtually air-tight system and the advantage of cedar aging as it’s done in the factory. As my traditional humidors begin to empty out, I move my coolerdor cigars in.
In an article we ran in CigarAdvisor some time ago titled“How My Katrinador Saved My Cigars,“ the writer, Bob “The Reverend Hurricane” Meyn, detailed the benefits of building his coolerdor. He used a 36-qt. red cooler, lined it with Spanish cedar planks, and because he has a lot of single cigars, used old cigar boxes for storage and purchased a big humidifier. Since the Rev lives in New Orleans, which tends to flood during the occasional hurricane, here’s what he wrote:
“The Katrinador has actually saved The Rev’s cigars once floating briefly in a hotel pool in Birmingham, Alabama during the evacuation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina,” wrote the Rev.
The Rev also noted that his Katrinador has “functioned as well as any expensive humidor and easily outperformed them for maintaining the quality of my smokes, which in my opinion, is the real purpose of a humidor.” Based on the experience I’ve had with my coolerdor, all I can add to that is, AMEN.
Though I don’t want to discourage anyone from buying a traditional humidor, if you’d rather spend your money on more cigars, the choice is yours.