Cigar Humidification

How to Store and Keep Cigars Fresh Without a Humidor

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Tips and Tricks For Storing and Keeping Cigars Fresh Without a Humidor

Conventional wisdom suggests that once you’ve become interested in premium, handmade cigars, buying a humidor to properly store and keep them fresh is the next step along your journey. But what if you only enjoy them occasionally, or received cigars as an unexpected gift? You still need to store them properly—since failing to do so would leave you with nothing but stale, dried out cigars and a bunch of regret.

Luckily, there are several simple and cost-effective options to keep your cigars fresh that don’t require ponying up for a humidor. But before checking out some tips for optimal humidor-less cigar storage, it’s critical to know why we use them in the first place.

cigar advisor storing cigars without a humidor 3-10-23-humidor at famous smoke shop
Humidors are a sure thing for keeping cigars their freshest – but what if you don’t have one?


What Does a Humidor Do?

In basic terms, a humidor is a storage container—with some kind of humidification source—that will maintain a consistent environment that allows your premium cigars to age and stay fresh. Beyond that, you’ll find that humidors come in a dizzying variety of sizes and styles ranging from the bare essentials to a man cave statement piece.

The reason you need to keep premium handmade cigars properly humidified is because they’re a natural product that both absorbs and loses moisture (depending on how they’re kept). However, you can achieve ideal cigar storage conditions without using a conventional humidor. All you need are a few tips and tricks and some items you’re likely to find already in your house or at any grocery store.


cigar advisor storing cigars without a humidor 3-10-23-plastic bag at famous smoke shop
Zippered plastic bags will keep your cigars fresh while you’re deciding on a more permanent storage solution.


The Ziploc Bag Method

This cigar storage solution was introduced to me by a crusty but lovable curmudgeon residing behind the counter at the cigar shop I frequented in the nineties. I wasn’t ready for a humidor yet because I was still trying to figure out if I really liked smoking cigars. But I was too far along to buy a single stick or else I’d be back to the store every few days. The plastic bag method came as an uncomplicated answer to my short-term cigar storage problems.

The simple setup requires a sufficiently sized plastic bag—the type that zippers shut—a clean (preferably new) sponge without any cleaning agents, and distilled water. First, dampen the sponge with distilled water—the damper the better. Next, place your cigars and sponge in the plastic bag. Make sure the sponge isn’t in direct contact with any naked cigars (without cellophane) and squeeze out the air while zipping the bag shut. Every couple of days, check the sponge. If it’s dried out, re-dampen it with distilled water. While not ideal for long term cigar storage, using a plastic bag and humidification device will get you by.

Bonus Tips:

  • Make sure you use distilled water. Purified, bottled, or (gasp) tap water will contaminate your premium cigars.
  • It’s a good idea to keep the plastic bag containing your cigars out of the direct sunlight or light from lamps. Better yet, stick them in a drawer—just don’t forget where you stashed them.
  • You can omit the need for a sponge and distilled water by using a Boveda pack.


The Food Container Solution

Found under many names and brands, but coloquially called Tupperware, the plastic containers that are most-often used for leftovers can also be used as a makeshift humidor. Many prefer this method because you can keep a lot more cigars handy with one caveat: you need to open it periodically to release excess humidity. My advice here is to use something brand new as opposed to the red sauce-tinted one in the back of the cupboard.

cigar advisor storing cigars without a humidor 3-10-23-tupperware at famous smoke shop
Tupperware with the addition of a humidification device is a dependable cigar storage answer, even permanently.

While the sponge and distilled water method works and will work here, I’d recommend stepping up to a Boveda pack or crystal gel jar. With the possibility of storing (and potentially ruining) more cigars, you’re going to want to employ a humidification method that provides more accuracy and longer-term stability.

Bonus Tips:

  • Even if buying a brand-new food container for storing cigars, thoroughly wash and dry it before using it. Check the container for any plasticky smell. If there is one, wash again and place outside to air dry. A couple hours outside in the fresh air should get rid of any lingering odors.
  • Light isn’t good for your cigars—whether from the sun or a lamp—so keep the container stored in a shady spot.


cigar advisor storing cigars without a humidor 3-10-23-small crystal gel jar at famous smoke shop
Ideal for a food storage container, crystal gel jars are trusted by enthusiasts.


The Coolerdor Way

The coolerdor has been around for decades—and for good reason. It works in a multitude of circumstances and configurations. And a coolerdor isn’t just for newer cigar smokers who don’t have a humidor, many turn to this tried-and-true storage solution as an inexpensive way to house their expanding cigar collection.

Setting up a coolerdor requires a bit more time and some additional equipment—but trust me, it’s worth it in the long run. Especially if you’re a humidor holdout who wants to keep a large selection of cigars on hand.

The basic setup requires a cooler, a humidifier, and a hygrometer. If you want to save yourself the hassle and expense of buying and calibrating a hygrometer, using a large crystal gel jar or multiple Boveda packs (which is my preferred method) is always reliable.

Bonus Tips:

  • Remember to wash and air-dry the cooler, especially if it’s brand new, to remove any plastic smells.
  • Use Spanish cedar cigar boxes to house your cigars in the coolerdor. You can go further and use Spanish cedar strips to line your coolerdor.
  • If you want to upgrade your coolerdor’s curb appeal, use a vintage branded cooler. Just make sure the seal is solid and that it’s watertight.


Buying a Humidor

While all the above methods achieve the goal of storing and keeping cigars fresh without a humidor, there are some who prefer the traditional humidor. For those, Famous Smoke Shop has a huge inventory of affordable humidors for newbies and cigar veterans alike.

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Paul Lukens

Paul Lukens


Paul first fell in love with the leaf back in college, where he majored in Philosophy (yes, seriously). Upon graduating, Paul stared into the abyss and unemployment stared back. He responded by founding the ‘Pounding Fathers,’ a traveling Beer Pong team with the other Philosophy grad at UMass. Aspiring to subsist on more than Ramen Noodles and Natural Ice, Paul put down his ping pong balls and picked up a pen - and a cigar - and began working in the premium cigar industry in 2013.

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