Green foam or crystal, which is better for humidifying?
So is the green foam-type humidifier that comes with most humidors, "good?" It does serve the purpose, but whenever I'm asked the question, I urge people to splurge a little and get a crystal humidifier instead. My reason is simple – the large pores you see in the foam-type humidifier allows for distilled water (or charging solution) to enter and be absorbed by the device. The design naturally traps humidity within the pores without much air flow and, as we all know, dark, damp crevices can encourage mold growth - which can not only ruin your humidor, but possibly your entire cigar collection in the process.
What are the benefits to having a crystal humidifier? Well for starters, it has a greater number of pores which absorb distilled water (or charging solution) slower. The crystals suck up the solution, slowly expanding inside the device until becoming a block of gel. It doesn't allow for space where humidity and impurities can build up. Instead, humidity is absorbed and released by these little marvels, constantly circulating humidity throughout the device, and thus discouraging mold growth.
By comparison, there is another benefit to using crystal humidifiers over the foam type - life expectancy. If you've ever used a sponge to clean off counters or do the dishes, you know that after it dries a while, the sponge becomes hard as a rock. Of course, when you re-wet a sponge, it bounces back a little but it never holds as much water. The same is true with humidifiers, especially the smaller ones. Sure, you can recharge a foam-type humidifier every 3-6 months or so (at most), but every time you refill it, it retains less and less water and the pores begin to clog. The same goes for the crystal humidifiers, but because the crystals can hold up to 400 times more fluid, you do not need to charge it as often. It saves on wear and tear, and because of its amazing power of absorption, the actual percentage of the humidifier that becomes unusable after one charge is so insignificant it's hardly noticed at all. The one caveat I must add here is, never let the crystals completely dry-out, or the unit will not work properly.
So ask yourself, what do you really want out of your humidifier? Do you want the foam-type that will last a year or two before you need to replace it (if it hasn't shown signs of mold before the end of that time period), or would you rather spend a few extra pesos on a humidifier that will properly regulate humidity in your humidor for at least three years or more? To me, the answer is a no-brainer - crystal humidifiers get the win by a knockout!
But what's a humidifier without solution? I suggest you use a charging solution, like Monster Venom, with your humidifiers. Also referred to as "50/50" solution, it contains polyglycol, which is a preservative and mold retardant you won't get by using distilled water alone. Until next time when my cigar smoking hiatus is behind me, remember to take care of your cigars with the right accessories; you and your humidor will both be happy!
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