For anyone looking to acquaint themselves with the ABC’s of cigars, this series is for you. Cigar 101 focuses on the details of the anatomy of the cigar along with other matters such as how to pick a perfect cigar, how to smoke a Cuban, how to store your cigars, etc. Please subscribe for regular updates.
If you were to see some of our FAQ’s, you would know that the most common question usually is
“AM I MAINTAINING MY HUMIDOR CORRECTLY?”
This blog will help you do just that. While not rocket science, there is a science behind the maintenance of a humidor and thus, by extension the maintenance of your beloved cigars.
Before, we go ahead with the technicalities of it, let’s address what a humidor actually is.
Simply put, a humidor is a box or a room that helps control the humidity for tobacco products. Most tobacco products tend to get spoiled if not kept in optimum conditions of humidity and temperature namely 70%-80% humidity and 16-20 degrees Celsius. The humidors primary task is to maintain consistent humidity and temperature so your cigars are maintained and aged well. Most humidors are made out of wood, however materials like acrylic, glass or leather may also be used but that’s usually for aesthetics. The insides of a humidor are usually made out of Spanish cedar wood and this is because this type of wood tends to absorb more moisture than other woods, thus – you guessed it – helping in maintaining humidity
- SEASONING THE HUMIDOR
When you first buy a humidor, the wood inside is dry. If the cigars are placed in a dry humidor, the cedar, tries to absorb moisture from them. Seasoning the humidor prevents this from happening, and starts the process of creating the perfect humid environment for your cigars to rest in.
- Empty the humidor. This includes the hygrometer, humidifier, dividers and trays.
- Using a clean wet cloth or sponge and distilled water, wipe down the entire interior of the humidor including the lid and the seals on the side.
- Take the humidifier; place it on top of a towel. Fill up the humidifier with distilled water. Leave the humidifier upside down on the towel to allow the excess solution to spill out.
- Place the humidifier in the humidor and close the lid. Leave it over night.
- Repeat steps 1-4 again for a second time and leave for a second night.
Note: Distilled water is used as it contains lesser minerals and chemicals than tap water which helps leave your cigars untainted during maintenance.
- calliberate the hygrometer
- In case of an Analogue hygrometer, take out the hydrometer and wrap it up with a very wet moist cloth leave for 30 minutes.
- The hygrometer should show high humidity (between 80 – 100%) which is proof that it is now activated. Place hygrometer in humidor and ensure that the humidifier is soaked in distilled water
- REGULAR MAINTAINENCE
- The internal temperature of a humidor should be at 16 – 20 degrees centigrade. It goes without saying that the outside conditions of the environment in which the humidor is stored will greatly affect the humidity and temperature. For example, if you were to keep the humidor next to a glass window that gets ample sunlight, chances are that your cigars are going to be dry and hot as opposed to humid and cool. Similarly, if you stay in a humid environment, its best to keep your cigars in the driest area so as to avoid over humidification
- The humidifier is key to maintaining the moisture not only in your cigars but also the humidor. To ensure that the same is maintained, please refill the humidifier once every week. In case of excess dryness, use the distilled water to wipe down the humidor. Repeat exercise for two – three days till the cigars retain moisture.
3 Be sure to look at the hygrometer reading at least once a week to make sure it is maintaining a relative humidity of 70– 80%.
USE YOUR SENSES
While all the above helps with maintaining humidity, it is only when one actually picks and touches the cigars that one can understand if the cigars are actually being maintained. Using all five senses of touch, sight, sound, smell and taste one can gauge if the cigars are well maintained.
Touch – gently press the cigars with your index finger and thumb. The cigars must be firm but springy to touch. If the cigars are too soft, it means that the cigars are over humidified. If too hard, that means the cigars are too dry
Sight – best way to notice humidor malfunction is to identify any wrapper damages. If the cigars are losing their sheen and are starting to tear, there is a chance that the cigars are dry. If the cigars start expanding, that means that the tobacco leaves are over humidified.
Smell – The aroma of the cigars always helps identify a healthy cigar from a non healthy one. If a cigar starts losing its aroma, that means that the cigars aren’t properly maintained
Sound – gently twirl the cigar stick in your hand next to your hear for any audible crackling. In case of excess and loud crackling, it is best to check the humidor for re-seasoning.
Lastly, Taste – for an avid cigar smoker, it is the use of the taste buds that can easily identify a good cigar from a bad, a young from an aged, a fake from a genuine and a well maintained cigar to a cigar that needs more time in the humidor.