Top Tools to Keep Cigars Fresh in a Humidor Year-Round
Three Worry-Free Ways to Maintain Proper Humidity in a Cigar Humidor and Keep Your Primos Perennially Fresh
By Gary Korb
What do you think are cigar smokers’ worst nightmares? Dropping a red-hot cigar ash on their clothes? Buying $10 cigars that could wind-up tasting like crap? Discovering their favorite cigars are infested with tobacco beetles? They’re all legitimate fears – especially the last one – but if you had to bet on it, the most likely answer would be the fear of their entire cigar collection drying-out. To that end, we cigar smokers are always on the lookout for the best ways to keep cigars fresh as the day they left the factory; and there’s certainly no shortage of cigar humidification products on the market that promise to keep your cigars in pristine condition.
With the change of seasons coming at this time of year, especially in the cooler parts of the country, this is a good time for assessing the conditions in your humidor to make sure your cigars will stay fresh and survive the dry winter months ahead.
Since I believe in keeping things simple, I’ve narrowed this report down to three cigar accessories to consider for helping maintain a worry-free humidor environment, not only during the fall and winter seasons, but all year long: An electronic humidifier, a humidor monitor, and a new-fangled type of humidity pack.
The Humidifier: Cigar Oasis Ultra 2.0
Cigar Oasis has been making electronic humidifiers since 1998, and are considered by many to be the standard of the industry. Their Excel, Ultra, and Magna models are made for very large cigar collections from 300 to 1,000 cigars and beyond. The original Cigar Oasis Ultra was introduced in 2009. Now part of Cigar Oasis’s “Next Generation” series of humidifiers, the Ultra “2.0,” is the most compact unit they make and will handle up to 100 cigars – well within the count norm for most desktop humidors. And unlike Cigar Oasis’s other models that are powered mainly via a paper-thin ribbon cable, the Ultra 2.0 is powered by an internal, rechargeable Li-Ion battery. (A ribbon cable is included if you want to go with the AC-power option.) The Ultra 2.0 measures 7″ x 2.5″ x 1″ and mounts to the underside of the humidor, so there’s no loss of real estate for your cigars.
The Ultra 2.0 comes with a pre-filled, refillable water cartridge that will last an average of two months under normal use. Once the unit is in place, all you have to do is set the RH to the desired level and forget it. The built-in fan equally distributes humid air to the system until it reaches the desired level, then goes into “sleep” mode to save battery power. A sensor samples the RH every five minutes to ensure the level is consistent. (In AC mode it samples continuously.) If not, the Ultra kicks into “control” mode until it returns to your original setting. Additional functions include temperature readout, three-day max/min RH averages, low water/battery indicator and alarm, micro-USB connections, and calibration adjustment.
One advantage of the Next Generation technology is the Ultra 2.0’s Wi-Fi capability. This requires purchasing the optional Cigar Oasis Wi-Fi Connector which allows you to keep cigars fresh via remote monitoring, control, and low water email/text alerts to your cell phone.
Monitor System: Xikar PuroTemp™ Wireless Hygrometer System
Speaking of humidor monitoring systems, the engineers at Xikar, Inc. are sticklers for accuracy, which makes their wireless remote PuroTemp system a real gem for cigar enthusiasts who want to keep cigars fresh and in prime condition. What’s neat about this hygrometer monitoring system is that it can read up to three separate remote units in different locations and/or humidors, allowing you to set and access the temperature and humidity level/s in all three locations within a 60ft. range without having to open the humidor/s.
The system is comprised of two pieces: the base unit monitor, and a remote, which is the actual hygrometer. (For cigar smokers who want to monitor multiple humidors, additional remotes are required.) The base unit displays the time and alternates between temperature and humidity for each respective remote in approximately one-minute intervals.
The temperature can be set to Fahrenheit or Celsius with a range of -13 to 140°F or –25 to 60°C, while the relative humidity range (RH) is 20% to 95% with an accuracy of +/- 2%. An alarm function is also programmed into the PuroTemp should the humidity or temperature fall outside the ranges, which are set by the user. A warning light also tells you if your humidor has been placed outside the range of the system. (One online review noted that the system worked perfectly even beyond the 60ft. limit.)
A button on top of the base unit serves four functions: CHannel, SELECT, UP and DOWN. Below the display window are two warning lights, for temperature and humidity respectively. On the back of the unit are the buttons for setting the 12/24-hour clock, temperature & humidity ranges, and the alarm.
What’s also nice about the Xikar PuroTemp is that it can be used for just about any cigar storage situation, like in a refrigerated wine cooler, or a “coolidor” (a beer cooler humidor). And if you have a stack of three coolidors you can keep them stacked without having to open them individually. Plus, cigar smokers who keep their humidors in a closet, the basement, under a counter, or behind the bar in their man cave will also find this system to be a real work-saver. For those looking to keep cigars fresh in walk-in humidors or wine cellars, the PuroTemp is not only practical, but depending on how big the space is, you can add two additional remotes and place them in three different zones to get a more accurate picture of the entire room.
Hi-Tech Humidity: Hfbarcelona Gelly Humidification Control Bags
The humidity pack has become one of the neatest and most effective ways to control the RH level in cigar humidors. Boveda, who set the industry standard for humidity packs, now has a rival in the form of Hfbarcelona, a company based in Barcelona, Spain. Hfbarcelona’s “Gelly” humidification control bags (pouches, actually), are foil-lined and filled with a mold-resistant and pet-safe gel made up of propylene glycol and gel crystals that will maintain a 68% – 72% RH for up to 90 days.
The pouches are affordably-priced and sold in two configurations: “Gelly30” (30 grams) and “Gelly60” (60 grams). The Gelly30 will humidify 10 to 15 cigars per pouch, while the Gelly60 will handle 20-25 cigars per pouch. Like the Boveda system, the pouches are maintenance-free and great space savers, but the humidity is released from two rectangular-shaped openings on the top of the pouch, rather than from the entire pouch.
The Hfbarcelona Gelly bags also have one other neat little feature – a colorimetric hygrometer, located in the middle of the pouch, that works by way of a cobalt salts indicator, giving you a visual reading of the relative humidity in your humidor. And although the Gelly pouches don’t have Boveda’s “patented 2-way humidity control,” they do a real nice job, especially in smaller humidors, jar humidors, and factory cigar boxes.
Finally, the Hfbarcelona Humidification Control bags are a smart alternative to gel and crystal-type jar humidifiers, since they save space, require no refilling for three months, and can be placed safely on top of your cigars if necessary. Sold as singles, as well as in 25 and 40 count boxes, just make sure you purchase the appropriate number of bags per the number of cigars you’re storing.
Now, wherever you live, or whatever the weather, you’ve got some excellent choices for keeping your cigars factory fresh almost indefinitely, plus you’ll have a little more time to enjoy your favorite cigars.
Now It’s Your Turn
Please leave a comment telling me what YOU think about this topic.