Season a humidor correctly the first time to ensure proper setup and operation. A common question asked among new cigar smokers is “How do you season a humidor?“. Here’s a quick guide that should answer most questions…
Assuming you just purchased a new desktop humidor, you’re going to want to wait before putting any cigars in it until it has been properly seasoned, and is holding humidity at the proper percentage. It’s important to properly season your humidor, because if you don’t, your cigars will dry out and you’ll never be able to maintain proper RH (relative humidity). Your humidor is made of wood (typically Cedar). Wood is very dry, therefore, if you put your cigars in your humidor without properly seasoning it, the wood will absorb any moisture that is in your cigars, causing them to dry out. Therefore, make sure you season your new humidor properly, and don’t rush the process. Following this guide will ensure a well seasoned humidor that will provide the proper RH and years of headache free maintenance.
Before we get started with the step by step procedure for seasoning your new humidor, let’s go over some components of your new humidor. Most humidors ship with a very basic hygrometer (usually analog) and a very simple humidifier. Aside from your humidor having a good seal, these two components play a major role in maintaining proper humidity. It’s a good idea to upgrade to a better humidifier (possibly humidification beads or a gel jar – both work well and are low maintenance). You’ll also want to consider upgrading to a quality digital hygrometer. Analog hygrometers tend to be inaccurate. When it comes to charging your humidification device (your humidor will typically ship with a cheap floral foam humidifier) be sure to use PG Solution. PG Solution is a mixture of distilled water and propylene glycol solution. PG helps maintain humidity at 70%. You can also just use distilled water, though if you’re charging floral foam, it’s best to use PG Solution as it is mixed to create a 70% humidity environment.. If you’re charging humidification beads or gel, you’ll want to use distilled water.
Components of your new humidor
- Floral Foam Humidifier
- Analog Hygrometer
It is recommended that you upgrade to the these items
- Gel Jar Humidifier ($5) or Beads ($15)
- Digital Hygrometer ($20)
Now that you are more familiar with your humidor and it’s different components, lets move on to the seasoning process.
Choose the location for your humidor
Find a location for your new humidor. It’s always a good idea to pick a cool location, where the sunlight won’t beat on it all day long. You don’t want to subject your cigars to unnecessary heat, as it will have a negative affect on your cigars. Always best to store your cigars in a cool location and in a safe place (where it won’t get knocked down).
Charging the humidifier
Charge your humidifier with PG Solution and install the hygrometer (they both usually affix to the underside of the top lid). If you’re using beads or a gel jar, use distilled water. Note: do not use both the floral foam humidifier and the gel jar, use one or the other. If using the gel jar, simply place the jar somewhere in the humidor. Follow directions on jar for re-charging it.
Season with distilled water
Next, get a paper towel and dampen it with distilled water. Lightly rub down the inside of your humidor with the damp cloth. Be sure NOT to soak the cedar, you just want to rub it down lightly. Some people are opposed wiping down the humidor, however assuming you’re careful not to soak the cedar and cause it to warp, you’ll be fine. Be sure to lightly wipe down any cedar trays and dividers (if your humidor came with any). Again, just a light wipe down is all you need to do – this will give it a jumpstart in the seasoning process.
Charging with distilled water
Now that you have lightly wiped down the cedar with a slightly damp cloth, go ahead and grab a shot glass or small bowl. Fill it with distilled water, and place the shot glass (or small bowl) inside the humidor (below the tray if there is one). Be careful not to spill any water onto the Cedar, as it will damage the wood causing it to warp. What you’re doing is increasing the RH level substantially. Your new humidor is thirsty, and will soak up a lot of the water from the humidifier, therefore adding a shot glass of distilled water helps season the humidor faster.
Allow humidor to season
Close the lid on your humidor, and let sit for 3 days. On the 3rd day, open up your humidor and check the RH reading. It should be around 75%, or perhaps a little higher. Reason it’s high is because you have added extra humidity sources (shot glass of distilled water). If your humidor is reading at least 72% or more on the 3rd day, remove the shot glass (or bowl). Close the lid and let sit for at least 2 or 3 more days. Do not unnecessarily open the lid, you will get best results by allowing your humidor to rest and allow the seasoning process to do its thing.
Check humidor regularly
If after a few more days your humidor is reading and holding steady at 70%, go ahead and start filling it up with cigars.Sometimes it’s best to gradually add cigars; for instance, start by adding only 25 cigars. Wait a day, and if your humidity is holding steady at around 70%, feel free to add more cigars. You don’t have to gradually add cigars, it is just a suggestion.
That’s it! You’ve properly seasoned your new humidor. Having followed this guide will take a lot of the headache out of maintaining proper RH. Assuming you maintain your humidor and make sure the humidifier is always charged, and your RH has not dramatically dropped, you’ll never have to season the humidor again.
What is the proper RH to store cigars?
Some notes pertaining to RH… Everyone has their own opinion on how much humidity you should maintain in your humidor. The general rule of thumb is 70%. Personally, I feel this is too humid, and doesn’t allow the cigars to burn properly. High RH also covers up some of the true flavors from the cigar; plus it can cause mold to grow. I like to keep my cigars at 65% RH, as I have noticed they smoke best at this point and also burn evenly without constantly going out.
The safe RH range is 60%-70%. Experiment and see what works best for you. Dropping below 60% may cause your cigars to dry out; going above 70% WILL cause mold to grow.
What is the proper temperature to store cigars?
The last point I’d like to touch upon is temperature. Without going into too much detail, it’s a good idea to keep your cigars between 60F-75F. If the temp goes much higher than 75F, you’re at risk for tobacco beetles. Tobacco beatles like to lay eggs on tobacco leaf, and if your cigar has eggs in the tobacco, they may hatch at 80F +. If the eggs hatch, the beetles will eat your cigars, and you’ll be left with cigars that look like swiss cheese. Aside from beetles being a threat, cigars prefer it at 75F or less; this will prevent them from becoming damaged.
That’s all there is to it. I hope you enjoy your new humidor!
Cigar Cello – Leave it or take it off?
Most new cigar smokers always ask – “Cello on or off?”. This again is a personal preference. My advice is to leave the cellophane on, even if you’re aging cigars. The cellophane will help keep the cigar from getting damaged (cigar wrappers are very delicate and will crack/split easily). Also, if you’re storing different types of cigars and the cellophane is off, the cigars will “marry” over time, and pick up each others flavors. I highly advise leaving the cellophane on, though do what works best for you.
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