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.