May 6, 2014

Guide: Buying a Humidor

So, you bought your first Humidor and you need some advice on setting it up. We’re here to help!

Chooseing a humidor - A small 15-count Humidor

Choosing a Humidor

You’ll need to choose the right humidor to best suit you. Humidors come in all shapes, sizes, and finishes. A couple key points to not overlook is the overall quality of the box, and the seal on the lid. When choosing a humidor, fist determine what size is best for you. I always suggest buying one slightly bigger than you initially planned. I say this because I guarantee that you’ll fill it up quickly and run out of space in no time. Once you’ve decided on a size, it’s time to start looking for one that catches your eye.  A humidor is an investment. Don’t cheap out and buy something because it’s the cheapest one they have. Remember, you get what you pay for. You need to rely on this box to function properly and keep your cigars fresh, and we can all agree that cigars are not cheap. The box should be firm, the Spanish cedar inside should be tight and well secured.

One thing I always suggest to new cigar smokers, is to avoid humidors with a glass lid. This are very appealing to look at, however 9 times out of 10 the lid is not sealed properly, allowing too much humidity to escape. The other reason I’d avoid a glass top, is because light is actually not good for your cigars. Let’s face the truth here. Every cigar smoker, new or seasoned is going to have 1 or 2 cigars in their humidor that they want to keep and not smoke right away. Where are you most likely to put this cigar if you have a glass top humidor? That’s right, front and centre so it’s visible. Which goes back to my previous statement about light not being your cigars best friend. Ultimately, the decision is yours, however make sure if you buy a humidor with a glass lid, that it has a proper seal around the glass. Once you’ve found the humidor you like, open the lid and see how it feels. I always like to have a humidor with some weight to the lid. Open the lid about 2 inches, and let it drop. It should not slam down creating a loud bang. In fact it should be cushioned by a nice puff of air, and close gently. This means the lid has a good seal.

Humidor Accessories

The two main accessories you’ll need to get started is a humidifying device, and a hygrometer.

I always suggest going with a gel (bead) humidifier, and a digital hygrometer. Xikar makes some great products, and that’s what I use. Also, make sure you grab some Propylene Glycol Solution for your humidifier. Humidifiers come in many sizes, so make sure to pick one that matches your Humidor (25, 75, or 250 count etc.) Of course, good cutter and lighter are a couple other things you’ll want to invest in.

How to Season A Humidor

Xikar Humidor Seasoning Kit

Now that you have your new humidor I bet you’re excited to go home and put your cigars in it!  Don’t!  After you’ve purchased your humidor it’s time to prepare it for your cigars. Humidors are (should be) made of kiln dried Spanish cedar. You need to re-humidify this wood. The best and most effective way to do so is by getting a clean rag (lint free is always preferred.) Soak the rag in distilled water or a propylene Glycol solution. DO NOT USE TAP WATER. Tap water has bacteria in it that will ultimately promote the growth of fungus and mold! Once you’ve soaked your rag, start running it across the entire inside of the box. Make sure to get in all the corners, on the all the lips, nooks and crannies. You do not want the wood to have puddles of water on it, but you do want to make sure that the wood is completely covered. Once you’ve done this close your lid and don’t open it for 24 hours!

In the meantime, it’s good to calibrate your hygrometer. Most humidors come with one, or maybe you’ve upgraded to a digital model. The best way to do so is to purchase a calibration kit, which consists of a humidity pack set at 75% and a plastic bag. If these are not available, your other option is to grab a bottle cap, off a pop or water bottle. Fill this cap with salt, and put a few drops of water into it. You want the salt to absorb the water – don’t over fill it!  The salt should absorb all the water and have a good consistency. Place this cap along with your hygrometer into a zip lock baggie, and leave it overnight (12 hours). After that time is up, your Hygrometer should read 75%. If not, adjust it accordingly and you’re good to go! After the 24 hours is up, and you’re hygrometer is calibrated, it’s time to start adding cigars!

Maintaining A Humidor

Now that your humidor is seasoned and stocked up with cigars, all you need to do is keep an eye on it. Every couple days check your hygrometer, and see where the humidity is. You should keep it between 65 – 70 % r/h (relative humidity) I personally keep my humidor at 65%.

When you see the humidity is getting low it may be time to refill your humidifying device. Again, do not use tap water. Propylene glycol solutions are best. Fill the humidifier up and let it sit for about 5 minutes. After 5-7 minutes shake it around to get rid of any left over solution that may be on the outside of the humidifier. Wipe it dry with a clean cloth. Once this is done put it back in your humidor, shut the lid and you’re finished!

A note on humidity: Most people say you should keep your cigars at 70% R/H (relative Humidity) and 70 degrees F. I’d like to stress the point that this is just a guide line. I’ve seen many people stressing that their humidor is sitting below 70%, pulling their hair out trying to keep the humidity at exactly 70%.. This Is NOT necessary, in fact your cigars will generally be fine all the way down to around 60%.  Temperature doesn’t play a significant role, unless you plan to age your cigars for years and years to come. Personally I like to keep my humidor at around 65%, if I look in and see it’s raised up to 70% I’ll typically adjust it back down. I find the cigars smoke the best at 65%.

Buying a Humidor

Shop around!  A lot of places sell the exact same things.  Check out taxes and shipping, and check out customer reviews and make sure they have a good reputation.

Happy smoking! Remember, if you every have any questions regarding your humidor or cigars we are here to help! Feel free to leave a comment below, or shoot us an email. We’d be more than happy to give advice and answer any questions you may have!

– Matt

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