Cigar Humidification

Winter Humidor Maintenance Tips

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Don’t get me wrong; I love the winter months. Skiing is my jam, and heading to Vermont is always on my agenda for some gnarly shred time.

But this is also the season every lip balm and moisturizer company makes all their money because of the decrease in humidity. Winter is notorious for sucking away every last bit of moisture in the air, leaving everything bone dry.

Even as a world renowned cigar guru, I too fell victim to the effects winter has on my humidor. My 100 count box at work recently dropped from 70% humidity, my preferred level, down to 55% in the matter of less than a week. Not only does this drop in humidity threaten the $700 plus worth of stogies I have waiting to be smoked, but it affects the physical characteristics of my cigars as well, leading to cracks.

Even more frustrating, the lower humidity increases the risk of damaging the caps of my cigars each time I try to cut one when I’m ready to light one up. Honestly, it’s a nightmare. But fear not, my smoky brothers and sisters of the world. For I am here to bestow upon you my three rules of winter humidor care so you don’t fall victim to Jack Frost.

Rule #1: Get in and get out

Pretend you’re a Navy Seal taking out current elastic-waistband-pulverizing dictator, Kim Jong Un. You want to get into North Korea, get the job done, and get out as quickly as possible to eliminate any friendly casualties. And yes, I can use this analogy because I care very little about the pudgy human rights disaster. But you get the point. The less time you rummage around, the less humidity escapes your humidor.

Winter humidor maintenance aside, this is actually a rule I preach no matter what the season. By spending as little time as possible with the lid open, your humidifying device and Spanish cedar lining of your humidor aren’t going to dry out as fast as they would. By opening up your humidor and staring into it like you’re staring at the hot girl from Accounts Receivable going all Coyote Ugly on the bar at the annual Christmas party, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Rule #2: Recharge

Make sure you recharge your humidification devices regularly. It is common knowledge that you should check your humidification device at least every 2 months to see if you should recharge it or not. If it seems dry, add distilled water to your humidification device, and voilà, you’re set for another few months. Foam humidifiers need to be recharged about every 2-3 months while crystal humidifiers need maintenance every 6 months or longer. If you notice your device isn’t holding humidity as long as it used to, perhaps it’s time to consider a replacement humidifier.

But if you’re in the same sinking ship I left myself in this winter by NOT following my own rule, you’re going to need a little assistance. I got my humidor to the point where the Spanish cedar expelled all the humidity it once retained. Now my humidor is as dry as the Gobi Desert. The solution: I recharged with two Boveda seasoning packs. If you take this route, remember that these packs are 83% humidity and are meant to season an empty humidor. Because I’m not taking my cigars out, I’m introducing the second pack 2 days after the first pack. This way the humidity is introduced gradually to rehydrate my cigars and the Spanish cedar lining. Soon enough, I’ll be in working order.

Rule #3: Check Your Equipment

Basically, you need to ensure the seal on your humidor is tight as can be. Again, the lack of humidity during the winter is devastating, so even the tiniest breach can rip out humidity just like the Cubbies rip the heart out of Chicago fans everywhere. Once the humidity starts to leave your humidor, the wood contracts a little bit and the seal is compromised.

A simple fix for this is to wipe the lip of your humidor down with a clean damp cloth of distilled water so it can be absorbed into the wood and swell up. If you want to opt for a quicker, more temporary fix, do what I did and place clear tape all the way around the lip. It adds an added layer to the lip to tighten things up, has no foul odor, and is easily removable. Consider it my redneck innovation.

Proper humidor care and taking preventative measures to keep your large investment of cigars safe is key during the winter months. Without knowing how to properly maintain your cigars during a radical shift in the atmosphere, you put each stogie you stash at risk of being destroyed or irreparably dried out. Make sure you follow my 3 easy rules this holiday season, and stay smoky.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
George G Sweeney
7 years ago

Where is the best place to have a humidor in the winter due to less humidity in the house, or does it matter. I can’t get mine to stay about 48%……………………..

1 year ago

I placed my humidor into an inside closet. I did this one spring when we were having allot of rain and very high humidity. It’s worked very well for me. It stays at a steady 65% – 69%. This is my storage humidor, so I hardly open it except for moving cigars I wish to smoke from it, to a smaller humidor I keep on my dresser for easy access. I have a digital hygrometer inside the all wood and no glass top humidor, and the analog hygrometer on the side of the case works susprisingly well. I also use 65% rh Heartfelt humidity beads. I hope that helps.

George G Sweeney
5 years ago

Have it in a back room, and the humidity is about the same as yours 45% – 60% why that range no idea.

1 year ago

SIL didn’t finish a stick and proceeded to put it back in my humidor … how the hell do i get that smell out of the box ? Help please !

1 year ago
Reply to  Paul

Are you new to cigars? Buy a new box…

1 year ago
Reply to  Texan

its a daniel marshall … can i clean the cedar and start over ?

Lenny Cossman Jr
1 year ago

Same here. Can’t get my humidor above 60. I wonder if the humidor is really at 60 er’not….

1 year ago

Re: Can’t get my humidor above 60% rh. I’ve had this problem two or three times now. My humidifiers were filled, and yet I could not get the rh up to par. So where is the humity from the humidifiers going..? Then it dawned on me. My humidor was dry and needed to be reseasoned. I placed my cigars, humidifier, and hydrometer into a big zip lock bag, and reseasoned my humidor. I placed a saucer with a sponge (dampen in distilled water) in the bottom of my humidor, closed it, and waited one week. Problem solved. Oh, one more thought..! I thought I would bring the humidity up to 73% – 74%. I had removed the cellophane from three cigars thinking they would age faster. I forgot about the cigars, and six months later all three had mold on them. I threw one away, but was able to cut off the mold on the other two and save them. All the other cigars in cellophane were ok. So now personally, I keep the cellophane wrappers on, and the rh at 65% – 69%.

2022 CA Report: 5 Must-Know Humidor Tips for Warmer Weather
1 year ago

[…] – there are different ways to go about keeping your box in the right condition (as opposed to in the winter, when heat and dry air have you loading your humidor with moisture). When the weather is too hot and sticky, it can wreak […]

Cigar Advisor Review: NewAir 250 Count Electric Cigar Humidor Wineador 
29 days ago

[…] It’s easy to control the temperature…and that’s going to be essential in the winter and summer months, when humidors really tend to act up in response to extreme temperature swings. […]

Jonathan DeTore

Jonathan DeTore

My job here is pretty simple - I write stuff, I post stuff to Facebook, and I take it to the house consistently at the weekly slam drunk contest. I do it all while sipping on a fine glass of cognac at my desk (don’t tell my boss), and wearing cashmere slippers. Let’s just say "The Hef" has nothing on me.

Show all Jonathan DeTore's Articles
cigar advisor top new cigars november 13, 2023 - cover

Top New Cigars (November 13, 2023)

Reading Time: 3 minutes A special all-boutique edition of Top New Cigars welcomes the return of Room 101 Johnny Tobacconaut, unveils Crowned Heads’ first true super premium, and celebrates a milestone Alec Bradley Anniversary. All this and more inside!

Read More
cigar advisor storing cigars without a humidor cover

How to Store and Keep Cigars Fresh Without a Humidor

Reading Time: 5 minutes We all know dried out cigars can ruin your day—but what can you do if you don’t have a humidor or have run out of space? Check out our useful guide for some expert tips on how to store cigars and keep them fresh without a humidor.

Read More
cigar advisor news – famous smoke shop adds house of romeo and capulet nicaragua lines – release – cover1

Cigar News: Famous Smoke Shop Adds House of Romeo and Capulet Nicaragua Lines To Their Exclusive Cigar Line-Up

Reading Time: 3 minutes Famous Smoke Shop has added two new cigar lines by way of Nicaragua to their bestselling Romeo y Julieta “House Of” selections. Named House of Romeo Nicaragua and House of Capulet Nicaragua, get the story behind these exclusive new cigars here.

Read More
top new cigars may 27 2019 cigar advisor cover

CA Report: Top New Cigars (May 27 2019)

Reading Time: 4 minutes As we’ve nearly rounded our way into June, more new cigars await – what will you discover this month? Click this list of Top New Cigars for a proper introduction!

Read More