Most of us have a stocked bar for when friends stop by. Want to impress friends with something unexpected? Keep a stash of fresh stogies in a small cigar humidifier. Americans bought more cigars than ever in 2021, and there’s a good chance your friends will relish the chance to share a quality cigar with you.
Step 1 here: Learning the ins-and-outs of cigar humidifiers.
Small Cigar Humidifiers Conquer Big Problems
Cigars need to be stored right away. When you order cigars online, allow them to rest in a humidor for a few days after you receive them. This will help them return to the proper moisture level that might have been lost in shipment. If you don’t put them in a humidor, they will dry out or get too moist in a week or two. Too dry or too moist, you’ve got a problem.
Too moist: When the humidity is really high, cigars go moldy—even inside a humidor. Sometimes the outside air is enough to push them over the edge. Even more gross, there’s cigar beetles. Cigar beetles hatch in warm, moist environments, including humidors in which the humidity is too high. As you might guess, beetle infestations ruin the cigars in a humidor.
Too dry: Too little moisture will dry out a cigar until it’s brittle. The cap falls off too easily when you’re ready to smoke it and it burns much faster than moist cigars. That takes some of the fun out of them. Even worse, dry cigars just don’t taste right.
We’ll say it again: Cigars are best when stored in an environment with a controlled temperature and humidity level. They can even improve with age! That’s why cigar aficionados store stogies in a humidor. Cigar humidifiers, the core component of humidors, keep moisture at a consistent 70% using either a chemical compound to control evaporation or an internal fan. High-end humidors are lined with Spanish cedar to keep beetles away and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
Becoming a Whiz with Cigar Humidifiers
Setting up a cigar humidifier takes time, so be sure to plan ahead. Don’t think you can just set these things up the day before a big party.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Calibrate the hygrometer (the device that will measure the moisture level in the humidor). You can do this by soaking a cloth in warm water, then wrapping it around the hygrometer while it is inside the humidor. Leave the cloth there for 30 minutes. Then, take the hygrometer out of the humidor and calibrate it to read between 95% and 97%. When the hydrometer is in this range, it’s time to move to the next step.
- Put the cigar humidifier in distilled water for three to five minutes.
- Remove the cigar humidifier and dry it.
- Line the base of the humidor with a plastic bag, then put a sponge dampened with distilled water on it.
- Place the cigar humidifier and hygrometer in the lid of the humidor and close it.
- Leave the humidor for 12 to 24 hours, then look at the humidity level. When it is between 60% and 75% you can safely store your cigars in the humidor.
If you follow these steps, the humidor will run the humidifier as needed to maintain the right environment—not too moist, not too dry.
Maintaining a Small Cigar Humidifier
Take good care of your cigar humidifier and you can expect it to last for many years. Of course, if you take your show on the road the cigar humidor might get banged up. To help them last, keep them away from the sun and water, and keep them in place where they won’t get knocked over.
To keep that cigar humidifier doing its job:
- Check the hygrometer every few weeks to see if the humidity in the humidor is still at 70%. If the humidity level is off, adjust the cigar humidifier to move toward the ideal level.
- Charge a cigar humidifier occasionally. To do this, remove the humidifier from the humidor. Use the grate to squirt humidifying solution or distilled water into the humidifier. (Use a small amount, enough to moisten the humidifier, not to soak it!) Then, wipe any excess solution from the font of the cigar humidifier and return it to the humidor.
- If you see mold in the humidifier, attack the problem right away. Take all the cigars out of the humidor, then wipe down all internal surfaces. Follow that with vacuuming the inside of the humidor with a handheld vacuum. Then wipe down the surfaces again—this time using a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol, followed by a clean cloth. (Yeah, that’s a lot. But do you really want to risk moldy cigars?)
- Refill the humidifier regularly. If you open the lid frequently, you need to refill the humidifier more often than if you don’t open it much. Most people refill the distilled water in a humidifier monthly. The activating solution with distilled water needs to be replaced about every two to three weeks.
Choosing a Humidor
Convinced a humidor is for you? Your next step is deciding what style you like and how many cigars you’ll want to keep in it. The Flying Cigar Company carries humidors holding anywhere from ten cigars to 300. If you’re taking cigars to a wedding or other occasion, consider investing in a travel humidor. And if you really want to impress people at your office, invest in the Havana Foot Locker, a mahogany chest that holds 15 boxes of cigars.