Guide to Buying Your First Humidor

Guide to Buying Your First Humidor

Chris asks:

I recently started smoking cigars and I feel it's time to buy my first humidor. Which one should I choose?

At some point fairly early on in your journey as a newbie cigar smoker, you are going to need to look into buying a humidor. The need will strike you when you start browsing in your cabinets for cigars to smoke and find yourself running across dried-up or moldy cigars that have suffered from the natural climate of your home. Some cigars that have not been well cared for can be salvaged, but many cannot, and no matter what, they will lose at least some of their quality.

Once you know you love smoking cigars, it becomes a necessity to buy a humidor and save your cigars from this unhappy fate. Yes, if you have a very small collection, you can keep them in zip-lock bags. If you have a cooler you do not use for other purposes, you can even use that as a humidor, but it will never function as well as a real humidor. Ultimately, protecting your cigars by keeping them in a climate-controlled environment saves you money, so you can think of a humidor as an investment. When you purchase a humidor, you will need to think about type, material, size, and price.

What Type of Humidor Do You Need?

There are several main types of humidors. Odds are the third type is what you will be purchasing.

Room Humidor

  • Room humidors. You probably do not need a room humidor—unless you have transformed overnight from a total newbie to a serious cigar collector or you have suddenly set out to run your own cigar distribution store. A room humidor is exactly what it sounds like: a room which serves as a gigantic humidor.
  • Cabinet humidors and table humidors. If you are quickly accumulating hundreds or thousands of cigars, you may need one of these units. Both are large and heavy and constitute furniture items. You may work your way up to this at some point in the future.
  • Personal humidors. This is probably what you want. If you have a few dozen cigars, a personal humidor is just the right size. It takes up minimal space, and keeps your cigars in a controlled environment.
  • Portable humidors. This type of humidor can only hold around a dozen stogies, but it is great if you want to bring a few smokes with you while you are on the road.

Common Humidor Materials

What should your humidor be made from? There are a lot of different options out there. Typical choices for modern humidor exterior design include wood board, acrylic glass, metal, or wood. Glass tops are common, because they allow you to see what is inside, allowing the humidor to double its function as a display case. You may even run into some more exotic materials like marble (common for the table or cabinet humidors I talked about above) or even leather. The prime choice for the interior is almost always going to be Spanish cedar, however. Spanish cedar is quite a special type of wood, because it can retain its strength and shape in humid conditions which would damage other varieties of wood. If you get a humidor with a Spanish cedar interior, it will stand the test of time.

How Much Space Do You Need?

How many cigars do you actually have, and how many do you expect to accumulate in the near future? A single box of cigars generally holds around 25 stogies. Count up your boxes and multiply by 25 to estimate how many cigars you actually own, and then decide on a type of humidor based on that number. Most newbie smokers will buy a personal humidor to start with. Check the dimensions for any unit you are looking at, and as a rule, buy slightly more space than you believe is necessary. Odds are you will underestimate the number of cigars you are likely to accumulate. Many cigar smokers are surprised how swiftly their collections grow!

How Much Will It Cost?

As a newbie cigar smoker, you may balk at the idea of going out and buying a humidor because humidors are expensive … right? Not as bad you might think. Yes, a lot of cigar humidors cost hundreds of dollars (especially the table and cabinet humidors). But the cost depends on a lot of factors, including the design, material, and capacity. If you want a large humidor, or one with fancy materials or design, you will probably be looking at a high expense. If however you are fine with a smaller model with a simpler design and less expensive materials, you may be able to purchase a starting humidor for as low as $40 to $60. A portable humidor may run you as little as $20. And if you shop used, you may be able to save even more.

Where to buy? I usually recommend CheapHumidors if you're based in the US/Canada or HumidorDiscount if you're in Europe. Amazon can be a good source as well. Visit our retailers directory for even more shops specialized in cigar accessories.

What Do I Do Now?

Now that you have your first humidor, what do you do with it to get it running and set up properly? First off, you’re going to need to stock up on a couple of other supplies: a hygrometer and a thermometer. These help you to measure your humidity and temperature to make sure that your humidor is functioning at its best. Also pick up some humidor beads. What are these for? They help to stabilize the humidor’s temperature and humidity level.

Next, wipe down the interior using distilled water. Close your humidor, and go do something else for the next hour. Check back to make sure it is dry. Now go and get a glass and put some distilled water in it. Add that along with the beads, and come back the next day. You want your humidity level to be somewhere between 68-72% (anywhere in that range is fine), and the temperature at 65-70° Fahrenheit. The glass of water can come out, but when the humidity drops below 68%, you will need to add a new one, so leave a little room in your humidor for the water glass. Once the temperature and humidity are stable, you are good to go. You can put them in the humidor in their boxes or individually. Individually is better, because cardboard cigar boxes can promote mold growth. Good luck purchasing your first humidor, and let me know below if you have any questions I can answer!

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7 Comments on “Guide to Buying Your First Humidor”

  1. Also, do not place your humidor where it will heat up in the sun during the day and then cool off in the evening. Large fluctuations in temperature can be as bad to your cigars as not paying attention to humidity.

  2. Ask Xikar if you wipe down the inside of a new Humidor or not, NO YOU DON’T you will wreck it, open the wood fibers and release the cedar oils and just create a very expensive air freshener

  3. Thanks alot of the article, here’s a link to a humidor that interest me : http://bit.ly/1AAEDq3

    it come whit the humidifier but what do i need to buy to put inside ? beads ? and any other accessories that i need ?

  4. Chris,

    The Milano Glass Top Humidor comes with a traditional foam humidifier and analog hygrometer. Both of these devices will function just fine in the humidor, however, if you are looking for pinpoint accurate readings or reduced maintenance humidification I would recommend:
    1) Digital Hygrometer Upgrade. You can replace the front-mounted analog hygrometer with this one: http://bit.ly/1G2jQ1N or you can choose any of the other ones to keep inside the humidor.
    2) Humidifier Upgrade. There are multiple types of humidifiers. You can choose:
    – Humidity Beads: http://bit.ly/1yoV9X4
    – A Crystal Based Humidifier like this one: http://bit.ly/1tWdPvV
    – Boveda Packets: http://bit.ly/128CuG1
    – Or an electronic humidifier like this one: http://bit.ly/1wIxYvl

  5. Chris:

    If it were me starting out, I’d look for a humidor that doesn’t have glass. Glass in the cover or other parts of the humi can create more headaches if you want to keep a consistent level of humidity for your cigars. A glass version can have the potential for seal problems where the glass and wood meet. And the glass itself provides less “insulation” than an all wood humidor. Just food for thought.

  6. I agree with Pete, above. Glass is great for displaying your collection, but can be troublesome depending on the humidor’s quality. It all comes down to how well made the humidor, so all seams are air-tight. Some one new to humidors is much better off looking for a solid lid, less potential for air gaps.

  7. I had mine custom made by Waxing Moon. Very happy with it. Price-quality is top! I have no personal interest in saying this and I don’t know if it’s allowed here. If not: my apologies.

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