How to revive dried cigars

It’s pretty easy for cigars to become dried out. Sometimes you misplace a box of cigars and forget to store them in your humidor (incredible, but it does happen). Sometimes you find a box of old cigars in your grandparents’ basement. Or your non-smoking friend tells you about his trip to Cuba seven months ago and how he brought back a box full of Behikes for your birthday. Anyway, by the time you find those cigars, they’re completely dry. The good news is that depending on how far gone they are, you may be able to bring them back, although, in most cases, somewhat short of their original quality. You’ll still be able to enjoy them, but some of their flavors may be lost. If the wrappers of the cigars are cracked or unraveling, then it’s too late to revive them (they’ll fall apart as you try to smoke them)—but if the wrappers are intact, there is a good chance you can ‘repair’ them. The process of reviving dried cigars is not a quick one, but with some time and patience you’ll be able to save your cigars.

There are several different techniques you can use to revive dried cigars, most of which will take you several weeks to complete. Don’t ever put your extremely dry cigars into a fully charged humidor right away. This will ruin them. It’s a good idea to equip yourself with a hygrometer which can measure moisture. This will help you to control the process of reviving the cigars and to know when the process is complete and the cigars are ready.

Technique #1

  • Get a Tupperware container or a plastic bag. Don’t use a cedar box, since wood aerates moisture, both absorbing it and releasing it at the same time. The result is that you won’t be able to build up moisture in a cedar box, which is what you need to be able to do. So use plastic instead. Tupperware containers and plastic bags both can seal, which is critical.
  • Get a sponge, or alternately oasis foam, and access to distilled water (propylene glycol works too). Start out by placing the cigars in the box or bag with the hygrometer and sealing them in. Walk away for a few hours then come back and read the humidity on the hygrometer. This will give you an idea where you’re starting from.
  • Next, place about a teaspoon of water on your sponge or oasis foam, and place that inside the box or bag with the cigars and the hygrometer.
  • Walk away again, but keep coming back to check on the process regularly. You’re waiting for the hygrometer to read 70%. Every 24 hours open up the bag and add another teaspoon of water to your sponge.
  • Once the hygrometer reaches 70%, you’ll need to maintain the humidity level in the box or bag at 65%-70% for 2-3 weeks, adding distilled water to your sponge as necessary. Every few days you’ll need to gently turn the cigars over a quarter turn.
  • After several weeks the process should be complete and the cigars revitalized.

Technique #2

  • Open the box of dried cigars and place the box in a damp location such as a cellar or crawl space where moisture gathers.
  • Keep the box of cigars in the damp place for roughly a week. You may need to do it longer if your cigars are extra dry. During that week, rotate the cigars a quarter turn every couple of days.
  • After a week or two is up (depending on the severity of the dryness you’re trying to counteract), put the cigars in your humidor at 70% humidity. Continue to rotate the cigars a quarter turn every few days. The process will be complete when every cigar has been turned the full way around at least two times.

Technique #3

If your humidor isn’t fully charged, then consider placing the cigars inside for a week. Only after a week should you consider charging the humidor fully and letting the cigars sit in the fully charged humidor. Again, never put the dried out cigars into a fully charged humidor to start with.

Technique #4

Dampen a sponge or a paper towel. Either wrap the damp paper towel around the cigar box and leave it for a week, or use the sponge to dampen the cigar box. You don’t want to get the box wet. You just want to create moisture. If you go with the sponge method, put the box in a sealed plastic bag for a couple of days. After that your cigars should be ready. This is a rush method though and it is more likely to fail than the others.

And if you don’t want to do it yourself…

Some cigar shops will actually revive dried cigars as a service to regular customers. As professionals, they are adept at providing cigars with just the right amount of humidity to restore them (some cigar stores will also store cigars for customers in humidors to keep them at the right level of humidity to begin with). This is really a good idea if you don’t feel confident about doing it yourself since you won’t risk ruining your cigars.

Techniques 1 and 2 are probably the best ones to go with if you are going to try to revive your dried cigars yourself. The last technique is probably not a great one to go with unless you’re in a big rush—but the fact is, the best results aren’t going to come with a rush job, and you’re more likely to ruin your cigars permanently if you’re in a hurry to get them back into pristine condition. Take your time reviving your dried cigars—the problem wasn’t created overnight and won’t be solved overnight. With several weeks to a month of diligence though, you should be able to revive even extremely dry cigars—always assuming they aren’t peeling apart or cracked when you start out.

Again, revived cigars will probably not be as great as they were before you (or somebody else) let them dry out. Expect some lost flavor. If you’ve never tried a particular cigar before and you try one for the first time after reviving it, chances are you won’t be getting an entirely accurate idea of its quality. It’s certainly still better than losing the cigar completely though!

PS Know any other techniques to repair dried cigars? The comment section is all yours.

26 thoughts on “How to revive dried cigars

  1. I was checking out humidors on e-bay an noticed a nice Savoy with cigars in it. Upon a closer look at the pictures there seemed to be 18 Padron Anniversary Series 1964 in the box along with a Zikar digital hygrometer and a Zikar humidifying element. The gentleman selling the lot claimed to have picked it up at an estate sale and was selling the lot “as is”. I looked as best as i could and there did not seem to be any cracks or tears in the wrappers. I e-mailed him to ask if everything i saw in the pictures were included, including the cigars. He assured me yes so we agreed upon a price $100.00 and he shipped it. I just received it three days ago and but for a few small missing pieces of wrapper at 3 cigars on the foot and the same of two on the cap, they are in dry but good condition. I thought the humidor and the devises alone were worth $50-75. If i can bring these Toro’s back to life, that would be sweet. I am using the uncharged humidor method. I replaced the battery in the hygrometer, stacked the sticks in a criss cross block 4 rows high to allow good air flow. I placed a few drops of Cigar Juice in the humidifier and after three days it is hold in at 50%. I plan to leave at that level for 1 week and slowly bring it up by 2-3% each week for the next 6-8 weeks. Hoping for a nice Memorial Day smoke with sticks i could not normally afford. I will keep you updated. Bill

  2. If your cigar has dried out, the probability is that it is not going to be good when you revive it. A lot of the flavor is in the oils, and that will be gone. Re-hydrate and have a smoke, and see. May be good, may be bad. Very important to keep cigars at 70% humidity (+/- 10%). Keep strongly flavored cigars away from mild cigars. A piece of sponge with distilled water in a ziplok or tupperware will re-hydrate any tobacco. Even better is a Boveda pack at the humidity you want. You can revive the packs with distilled water in same way in tupperware. Whatever you use, item will either humidify, or de-humidify; you have to work out a system to keep consistency. You NEED a digital hydrometer for readings. They are small and cheap. All humidors need at least weekly checking.

  3. I have three boxes of COHIBA coronas ESOECIALES , they are in plastic wrappers a box of now 19 , the box code is EL NNCA and as I can work it out they are from 1976. no cracks or mold , can I save them? I bought them at auction in 1985 from the US 6ambassador to FRANCE , I never smoked any just put them away. (2) at the same auction two boxes of 25 each PANETELAS with the date code EL OCUC I think July 1987 , no plastic wrappers , what can I do to bring them back to life . thanks Andrew

    1. I would buy these if still available 🙂

  4. I have had success with dried cigars by placing in a humidor at say 60% and increasing two percentage points per week until at desired relative humidity. This is done easiest with electronic humidifiers.

  5. @Bekte @Noah I personally prefer to take the plastic off when reviving my cigars. The only exception is when I see any signs of the outer tobacco leaf (the wrapper) being about to crack with any slight movement. Like it was mentioned earlier, once that wrapper leaf is busted, it’s all over for that cigar.

  6. As far as cigars that are cracked, frayed or split… whole tobacco leaves are available online. I would think you could just put a new wrapper leaf right over the old cigar. Of course you should try to get the humidity up first so that you don’t just split your new wrapper.
    if it’s just kind of coming apart and not actually split you can glue it back together with pectin or flour paste.

  7. Do I leave the plastic wrapper on the single cigars

  8. Hi
    I just fund a box of cigares that I’ve totally forgoten about.
    They are still in the wooden boox and all the cigars still have original plastic wrap around them.
    Before using any of you techniques I need to remove the plastic wraping?
    Best regards

  9. My spouse left many boxes of fine cigars he collected over twenty years. They have been stored in his wine cellar at 56 degrees. I’m sure they are dry. I so appreciate this article and will try my hand at educating myself enough to try your methods so my son and I can enjoy smoking them. Thank you.

  10. Everyone will laugh at me, but here’s what I do. I haven’t had much success with humidors because I like my cigars very, very moist. I take my dry cigar out of the cellophane, take the rings off. I put a small pot of water on the stove with an overturned bowl in it, and place the cigar on top of the bowl, and I cover the pot. The water soon boils, and in about 2-3 minutes the cigar is very, very damp. If there were hard spots in the cigar I massage that area gently, and let it steam for 30 seconds or so more, and it is done. What surprises me is that once taken from the pot, the cigar dries pretty quickly, so that it isn’t over-moist when I smoke it right away. It works for me.

  11. @Cheryl
    Since the cigars seem to look good, the best way to prepare them for your son would probably be some regular humidor maintenance: make sure you have a hygrometer (might need a recalibration) and a thermometer. Depending on the current temperature/humidity levels, you will need to recharge it one or several times.

  12. My son’s 18th birthday is in 6 weeks. I was thinking it would be cool to give him his dad’s cigars, including 3 from when he was born. My husband passed away about 2 1/2 years ago and the cigars are still in the humidifier, but I haven’t done anything to maintain it. The cigars look good, wrappers are good, no cracks. Which method do you suggest, especially for someone who knows nothing about cigars but the soothing aroma when my hubby smoked them? Thanks a bunch!!!

  13. I’ll check the cigars but they’ve been without humidification for a few years sadly to say.

  14. @Steele
    You should check the state of your existing cigars – are they really too dry? If they are not, you can transfer them to your humidor directly. Otherwise, I’d suggest using one of the techniques above.

  15. Here’s my dilemma. I have multiple boxes, some still have the cellophane wrapper, and I just received my commercial sized humidor. How do I go about reviving all my cigars? Should I start my humidor at low rH, like 20 or 30, and every week or so turn it up 5 or 10?

  16. Hello, having used the boveda himidipak all my cigars have been revived without any loss. I put them in a sealed plastic box together with the boveda for about a month. They are also a great way to store cigars full time. CARLOS: If u have sealed the cigars in a ziplock together with a humidipak, they will just be fine for at least a few months. I would open the cigar box inside your ziplock to allow your cigars to be in direct contact with the relative humidity. Regards

  17. Great article!…question I bought an 18 pack of cigars each one in it’s own plastic wrapper because each one is different and I have them in a big ziplock with a humidity pack in there, they’ve been in there about 3 days now and I’m waiting on my humidor to come in the mail, will my cigars go bad before I get to put them in the humidor?…Also will I have to wait and do the process you talked about in your article above before I just put them in there?…Please answer I am kind of new to this cigar thing and don’t want to have bad cigars.

  18. I use the Boveda Humidipak to restore my dry cigars.I found them at a local cigarshop and it sounds very promising. You can buy these packs at 62, 65, 69, 72 and 75% RH. I put a 65% pack in a Tupperware box along with the dry cigars. On the website they the cigars will be restored in a month. I will keep u updated with the result.

  19. What happens if you put the dry cigars in a charged humidor? I put some dry cigars at the bottom of my humidor, and put fresh ones on top of them a couple of days ago.

  20. @David B
    Tap water contains minerals and other substances that may alter the humidification process and the cigars’ taste (although I don’t know to what extent). I feel it’s safer to use distilled water.

  21. Thanks for the guide, very useful. This may be a stupid question but why do you need to use distilled water rather than, say, tap water?

  22. I have used my foodsaver in the marinating container. I lightly misted the empty container. I placed a layer of cigars on a small sheet of foil. Closed the lid,and sucked out the air. I did this 2x over 3 days and,then let them sit for a week without the pressure – worked fine. I will use the hygrometer in future to perfect this procedure.

  23. I’ve had success in taking a large ziplock bag, dipping my hand in distiller water, flicking the water into the bag, add cigars, seal, check again in one week

  24. Great read. Some of these techniques I had heard of, but not all. Hopefully I’ll never have to use any of them (knock on cedar).

  25. Excellent guide. Thanks for putting this together.

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