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The ABCs of Cigar Humidors

Jan 18, 2008
Casual cigar owners often ask themselves: is a humidor really necessary? The answer is: only if you care about the quality and taste of your cigars.

After all, for some smokers, the after-dinner cigar is more symbolic than anything - a conspicuous display, perhaps, of taste and leisure, or a social or familial ritual. If, however, you smoke for taste - which is the best reason to smoke - you should probably invest in a humidor: a specially-constructed box designed to maintain your cigars in near-70% humidity and at a proper temperature when they're not being smoked.

To understand why humidors are so important, remember what a cigar essentially is. It's a set of rolled-up tobacco leaves that have been cut, dried, cured, and fermented, then maintained at a very slight but essential level of moisture. If the cigar dries out completely - as can happen in open air, at the wrong temperature, or in low humidity - it loses its taste. If it's kept in an airtight environment, on the other hand, the necessary low level of moisture will, over time, cause mold. A cigar requires a very special set of conditions in order to maintain optimum taste.

The humidity in which cigars are stored is important because of the specific conditions in which most tobacco is grown. The natural climate for most such areas is in the neighborhood of 70% relative humidity; the tobacco plant has evolved for such a climate. Thus, humidity control is the sine qua non of a humidor - without that, it's not a humidor but a box with cigars in it. Humidors are able to maintain a relatively consistent humidity level partly because of the relatively porous wood used to line them (Spanish cedar and Honduran mahogany are popular choices for this reason).

Most humidors also, of course, have some sort of device that maintains moisture levels; some use hygrometers, which indicate interior humidity. (Digital hygrometers tend to be more accurate, though they lack the old-fashioned appeal of dial hygrometers.)

When packing your humidor, make sure you leave some room between the cigars to allow air to circulate between them. (Again, you want to avoid an airtight fit, which would promote mold. On the other hand, too much empty space will allow that all-important humidity level to drop. Check on your cigars frequently, at least once a week, to ensure that nothing needs to be adjusted). The cigars should, at best, exude a small amount of oil when stored; this is a sign that the humidor is working. Slight amounts of water can be added if cigars start to dry out.

If your cigars suffer an attack of tobacco beetles - a species of beetle that preys on tobacco and can sometimes bore through a humidor - you've probably been keeping the temperature in the box a touch too high (tobacco beetles flourish at temperatures over 75 degrees.) Remove the affected cigars and put them in your freezer for 48 hours, then move them to your refrigerator for another day, following which they should be safely returnable to the humidor.

Spanish-cedar humidors are a popular choice. This wood, as mentioned above, holds moisture well, maintaining humidity, and it holds an aroma many consumers find pleasant and complementary to that of the cigars themselves. It's also slightly favored for keeping tobacco beetles out, and it doesn't warp in high humidity.

When you buy your humidor, "season" it by applying a moist cloth to the interior wood and then leaving a small, closed container of water inside the humidor for 12 hours. If the humidor "drinks up" most of the water, leaving the container near-empty after 12 hours, repeat the process for another 24 hours. Once the water stops evaporating, the humidor is ready for your cigars!
About the Author
CigarFox provides the finest cigars that include cigar brands like cohiba, gurkha and many more. Other cigar products include cigar humidors, cigar boxes, and cigar accessories like Zippo Lighters.
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