Setting up your Humidor -
When most people get their new humidor home, they are anxious to fill it up with their collection of smokes. If you do this without first re-humidifying the wood, you may ruin your cigars. Why? The wood has not had a chance to reach its equilibrium. So when you put your cigars in, the wood will absorb their moisture and you will be left with dry useless cigars. Not exactly the reason you bought a humidor, huh? To solve this problem, all humidors should be re-humidified before their first use.
Re-humidifying your humidor is easy, just follow these simple steps:
- Place a shallow container filled with distilled water in the humidor
- Place calibrated hygrometer inside humidor
- Charge your humidification device
- Place humidification device inside humidor
You have to check the relative humidity every day. Depending on a number of factors this can take a few days to a few weeks. When you get in the 70 range it is safe to store you smokes inside. As long as you constantly recharge your humidification device you will never have to wait to store your cigars again.
I always suggest waiting at least 7-10 days, no matter what the hygrometer says before putting cigars in a new humidor.
Humidor Maintenance + Care -
With proper care and attention, your humidor will last a long time.
- Store your humidor on a flat even surface.
- This will prevent it from being knocked over.
- Never store your humidor in direct sunlight. This may fade the wood and heat the inside of the humidor past the safe range.
- Prevent placing objects on top of the humidor.
- Do not place the humidor near a source of heat or cold, like a window or fireplace. This may raise the temperature inside the humidor to a level past the safe range.
- Always use a soft cloth when cleaning.
- Furniture polish and Murphy's soap are good products which can be safely used on the outside of your humidor to either clean or polish it.
- Regular dustings will help keep your humidor looking as good as new.
- Never use any kind of cleaning solutions for the inside of your humidor. The odor they emit can ruin the flavor of your cigars.
Calibrate a Hygrometer -
To calibrate your hygrometer you will need table salt, a see through container such as a Ziplock baggie, and a small shallow open container, like a bottle cap.
Place a teaspoon or so of salt in the shallow container and add a few drops of water to get it wet. You don't want to dissolve it, just get a good damp pile of salt in your container. Remember, you don't want a salt water solution, just damp salt. Place the shallow container in the baggie along with the hygrometer.
Seal the baggie with some air trapped inside (so it is not tight against the hygrometer) and let it sit. Allow this to stabilize for at least 6 hours (don't rush it). After it has stabilized, check the hygrometer reading without opening up the baggie. It should be exactly 75%.
If your hygrometer doesn't read 75% after calibration then you have 2 choices. First you can remember the deviation of y our hygrometer. If it read 80% then you are 5% off and have to subtract 5% from whatever it reads. The second option is to adjust the hygrometer if your model allows for this. Some hygrometers have a dial on the back or side that can be turned to adjust the unit to 75%. If yours doesn't have this, then go with option 1.
Charge a Humidor -
To fill or charge your humidifier, you should remove it from the humidor and dampen the humidifier in a 50/50 solution of distilled water and propylene glycol (PG), usually referred to as activator solution. You are not looking to soak the humidifier, just get it damp, usually a few squirts of activator solution will be enough to keep it charged for a few months. This procedure should be repeated when your cigars start to get dry or when your hygrometer reads the humidity as being lower than you prefer.
Simply, PG is a hydroscopic substance. It absorbs moisture from the environment (like a salt shaker does in humid weather). The distilled water evaporates until the ambient humidity approaches 70%. At that point the PG won't allow any more moisture in the air. Conversely, if there is too much moisture in the air, the PG solution absorbs the excess, bringing the system down to 70% as well.
Some people figure that instead of buying distilled water, they will simply use tap water, or even filtered water. Filtered tap water is full of all the dissolved minerals which will ultimately plug your humidifier. The PH is balanced in tap water with chemicals which may interfere with the PG and cause variations in your humidity.
Storing Different Cigars in the Same Humidor -
Most people who smoke cigars prefer a few different varieties; no two cigars are exactly alike. When using a humidor, it is always advised that you separate different cigars so their aromas and flavors don't react with one another.
The easiest, and least expensive way is by using dividers. Dividers fit inside your humidor, either lengthwise or widthwise and essentially create sections in which you can store different cigars. You can put a mild cigar in one compartment, a full bodied cigar in another compartment and never worry about the flavors mixing up with one another.
Traveling with Cigars -
The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have the correct device to store your cigars. If you are going to be out for a few hours then you can use a simple leather cigar holder or Ziplock bag. If you plan on being out for a day or two then a device with a humidifier is preferred, and for a few weeks on the road, it is advised that you use a specially designed travel humidor that has been properly re-humidified.
After you get your storage device, choose the cigars that you want to bring along. It is best to take cigars that have already been stored in a humidor for a period of time as they will have stabilized at the perfect humidity. Make sure you bring only enough cigars for the excursion. You really want to avoid bringing any cigars back with you that you took from home. Not that they will go bad, but the likelihood is higher than if you enjoy them while out. For example, it is not advised to bring 25 cigars if you are going to a party and plan on smoking 2 during the evening.
Now that you have the cigars you want to travel with, and they have been sitting in a proper humidor for some time, you can simply take your storage device and load it up. If you just got cigars from the tobacco shop, it is advised to leave them in the wrapper and place them in your travel case.
Remember always to close your case, tube, etc. when you are done with your cigar. This will help maintain the humidity and preserve your cigars longer. Also, try to not put the case in direct sunlight or any place where the heat will get extreme. It is best to carry the case with you at all times. As an example, bring it on the plane with you, rather than in the storage below.