A Beginners Guide to Humidors
Posted on July 28 2020
The Beginners Guide to a Humidor
Cigar smoking is typically associated with celebratory events; graduations, promotions or expecting a newborn just to name a few. Every now and then, a new cigar aficionado is born after realizing that a celebratory smoke just doesn’t cut it. For all new hobbyists, enthusiasts and aficionados, getting a humidor is the next step.
It is easy to be overwhelmed when you start researching for a humidor. Taking into consideration the different sizes, materials, designs, price range, etc. the probability of obtaining the right one on the first purchase is very low. As you do more research, the more confusing it gets. That is fine since the best lessons are learned through mistakes, and we’ve all made similar ones. Gregg, one of the newer members on Luxury Cigar Club discord chat and also a new cigar aficionado was able to share his first humidor purchase experience:
About three to four months ago, Gregg started his journey as a cigar smoker. Being a loyal member of Amazon, Gregg decided the best place to look for a humidor would be there. After doing some research and reading up on many reviews, he purchased a 30 counts glass top desk humidor. Upon receiving the humidor, he did more research on YouTube in regards to seasoning the humidor. He combined a few videos that made sense to him and began the seasoning process. He wiped down the inside, placed distilled water in the humidor and a 69% RH boveda pack in the humidor for 3 days. After the third day, he placed about 20 cigars in the humidor. He realizes afterwards that the RH wouldn’t go above 51%.
He had voiced his concern in the chat one day while the topic of humidor and seasoning came up. With guidance from a few veteran smokers, he was able to re-season the humidor. However, after 15 days of seasoning with 84% boveda packs, the RH level still wouldn’t surpass 60%. That’s when he discovered the seal on the lid was loose. In the end, he decided to purchase a whynter humidor, and was a happy smoker since then.
Sounds familiar? We’ve all experienced similar situations. You might be going through one as you’re reading this blog. Here are some tips and tricks from the veterans.
The 5 Tiers of Humidors
Humidors come in many different shapes and sizes. To simplify things, I have split them into 5 general tiers and their price value;
- The Beginner Bundle Pack – Cheap cigar Websites are unavoidable when it comes to new cigar smokers. There are tempting deals posted on a daily basis. One of the most eye-catching deals is the cigar and humidor bundle. In the price range of $20 - $35, you get a bundle of 10 cigars and a 40 to 50 count humidor. How can one pass on a deal like that? Well, to learn from Gregg’s experience, it is best to avoid any deals that seem too good to be true.
- Desk Top Humidor (50 – 200 count) – Quality begins here. The difference is not only in the price, but the quality of the wood. You can tell immediately by the heaviness of the lid, and the seal of it once it is closed. These humidors also come in a lot of classy and intricate designs where one can show off. The price starts around $125 for a 40-count humidor.
- The Wineador (Newair/Whynter; 100 + count) – Think of a mini fridge with cedar trays and shelves. These electronic humidors let you control the temperature on top of holding humidity. These are the new ideal for cigar smokers, especially if you are from an area with extreme temperature (i,e: Texas, Florida, etc.). Prices start around $150 to over a thousand depending on the size and features. I personally found a 12-bottle wine cooler at my job’s recycling room and took it home. With a little guide from google and reddit, I was able to make it into a makeshift wineador.
- The Wooden Cabinet and Walk ins (1000 +) – I have combined the last 2 because you mainly see them in your local B&Ms and retail stores, unless you are successful and a huge cigar collector. The price and size in this category can very well depend on your passion and how much you are willing to spend.
The 3 Methods of Seasoning
I am sure there are more than 3 methods when it comes to seasoning a humidor. As a matter of fact, there are countless variations to these methods, and it all depends on what works for you. I was able to chat with another fellow botl on the LCC discord chat, Adrian. In all the years he has been smoking, Adrian did extensive research and tried different methods to season his humidor. He was able to boil it down to 3 methods that work: Traditional, Sponge and Boveda seasoning packs.
- Traditional Method – This is the fastest method out of the three. You wipe down the inside of the humidor with a damp cloth or a new sponge then you close the lid and wait. This process takes about 2 days, and you might need to repeat step 1 if there isn’t enough moisture distributed to the entire The downside to this method is that you are forcing water particles into the wood with direct contact. There is a chance of expanding the wood and damaging the humidor. Therefore, it is not recommended for a wooden humidor. Instead, practice it on a wineador since there is minimal wood.
- The Sponge Method – This is the most popular method. You place a dish full of distilled water or a damp sponge sitting in a dish into the humidor and close the lid/door. It takes about 4 to 5 days for the wood to absorb the moisture naturally. This is less harmful to the wood.
- Boveda Seasoning Pack – The newest and the longest method is the Boveda 84% seasoning pack. This is the safest and easiest method out of the 3 mentioned methods. Per direction, one large seasoning pack is good for a 25 to 100 count humidor. Depending on the size of your humidor, place the recommended amount of seasoning packs into your humidor and shut the lid/door for two weeks. By the end of the 14th day, you will realize when removing the pack from the humidor, the packet will be bone dry and all the humidity will be within the wood. This is the safest method because of the 2-way humidity control technology in a boveda pack. If the humidity level goes above 84%, the packet would start absorbing the excess humidity instead of forcing more humidity into the wood. This way, it won't damage the wood in any way.
Just like everything, nothing lasts forever. Having a perfect seasoned humidor is only the beginning. Maintaining that RH level is also part of the journey. I will not get into too much into details in this blog, but here are few steps you should perform after the initial seasoning:
- If you are using gel beads, refill on your polyglycol solution when it starts to dry out.
- If you use a Boveda pack or any other "humi" packs, make sure to replace them once they start to solidify.
- Do a quick wipe down or re-season your humidor when RH starts dropping and won't hold onto the optimal level.
- Calibrate your hygrometer once every 5 to 6 months.
- Rotate your cigars every 2 to 3 months.
- If you use a wineador such as Newair or Whynter, then you might want to consider performing this step. Ammonia gases are a standard byproduct from the tobacco during the fermentation process. A proper fermented and aged tobacco are relieved of all the ammonia gases and its unpalatable flavors. However, the ammonia gases will still exist if the fermentation process gets cut short or the tobacco itself isn’t aged long enough. Even with aged tobacco, there is truly no way to tell if all the ammonia gases have evaporated from the cigar. Therefore, as a preventive measure, I suggest burping the humidor once every 3 weeks. This means opening the door and introducing some fresh air into your humidor while releasing ammonia gases that build up and get trapped in the wineador.
As the title suggested, this is a beginner’s guide. There are many other factors and steps you can take to season and maintain your humidor. Feel free to share your thoughts or methods when you are seasoning or maintaining your humidor in the comment section below.