January 2024

Choosing the right humidor can be a daunting task given the extensive range of options available. In this article, I aim to provide guidance to help you make an informed choice.

Firstly, let’s explore your options. As your cigar collection grows, you may find your sock drawer overflowing with Ziplock bags, or your current humidor reaching its capacity. Generally, there are three approaches to consider:

  • Stick with Ziplock bags filled with Boveda packs.
  • Opt for the Tupperdor method.
  • Purchase a traditional humidor.

Option 1: Ziplock Bags

This method is suitable if you have fewer than 25 cigars. Ensure the bags are placed in an area shielded from sunlight. It’s crucial to avoid excessive air inside the bag and to seal it properly. Regularly check your Boveda packs to ensure they haven’t dried out.

Option 2: The Tupperdor Method

A tupperdor is essentially a Tupperware container transformed into a humidor, similar to the Ziplock bag approach. Place a Boveda pack inside the container, and ensure it’s kept away from sunlight. Although I’ve tested and found the tupperdor effective, I wouldn’t recommend it for aging cigars.

Option 3: Buying a Humidor

Purchasing a humidor is often the best option, but it’s important to choose wisely. Several key factors should be considered when buying a humidor.

 

Different Types of Wood

Always make sure the humidor is made out of cedarwood. All my humidors are made of Spanish cedarwood. Why does it need to be cedarwood? Well, this kind of wood is more resistant to mold, absorbs moisture when the humidor is too humid, and also releases the moisture when the humidor is too dry. Another reason is that we find cedar taste in a lot of cigars. So, the cedarwood will actually enhance the flavor of your cigars. When it comes to different wood types, Spanish cedar is the absolute king!

Another very important thing is to check out the thickness of the cedarwood inside your humidor. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for! A lot of cheaper humidors use a cedar veneer. This is barely enough to give you the wonderful smell of cedar when you open up your beloved humidor. But, besides the pleasant smell, the thickness of the cedarwood contributes to what I feel is the most important part of your humidor, the moisture level.

Like I mentioned before, one of the qualities of Spanish cedarwood is absorbing and releasing moisture. A thin veneer simply isn’t enough to contribute to absorbing moisture. When you’re looking into the cheaper section of humidors, make sure that if a cedar veneer is used, it is at least 5mm thick (starting from 5mm, your humidification level should be between 65-72%). In the more expensive section of humidors (I’m thinking of Elie Bleu, Dupont, and Davidoff), you can be pretty sure that the entire interior will be made out of Spanish cedarwood. The thickness is more important than you might think. Keep in mind that every time you open a humidor, some humidity will escape. With a proper thickness of cedarwood, your humidor will automatically compensate for the lost humidity.

 

Is It Sealed Properly?

Having established the preferred materials for our humidor, the next crucial aspect to check is the sealing. There are several types of humidors, with cabinet and table models being the most common. A cabinet humidor opens at the front, while a table humidor opens from the top. When opening or closing a humidor, observe if there is a slight resistance.

If you notice a slight resistance, it indicates that the humidor is sealed tightly. A proper seal is essential for maintaining a stable humidity level; if the humidor doesn’t seal properly, the humidity will fluctuate, necessitating more frequent refills of the humidifiers. Additionally, ensure that the area around the joints is properly sealed as well.

Once you’re sure that the humidor you have in mind checks all these boxes, we can start looking at size.

I started my collection 5 years ago. The first humidor I bought was a cabinet humidor from the brand Lubinski, a small-sized cabinet that could fit around 50 cigars. The problem with buying a smaller-sized humidor is that there isn’t enough space after some time.

Knowing the average cigar smoker, it’s impossible to stop buying cigars once your humidor is full. I would recommend buying a humidor that fits at least 100 cigars. Afterwards, you can still scale up. Keep in mind that a humidor needs to be filled to at least 60 percent of its capacity.

But what about the humidifiers?

Humidifiers come in all shapes and sizes. Normally, when you buy a humidor, it will be equipped with a humidifier. You have five types of humidification systems: Floral foam, Crystal gel, Silica beads, humidipacks (like the Boveda pack), and electronic humidifiers.

Floral Foam:

I once owned a humidor equipped with a floral foam humidifier. In my opinion, don’t use it; throw it away. The problem with these types of humidifiers is that when your humidor gets too moist, they can leak little drops. These drops will fall onto your cigars, leaving you with a ruined cigar. Another big disadvantage of these humidifiers is that they need to be refilled more often than a humidification system that works with Crystal gel or silica beads. They require a weekly/biweekly refill.

Crystal Gel and Silica Beads:

If you don’t own an electric humidifier, this is the best type to use. These two types work exactly the same. They both are made out of a silica-based material that absorbs fluids and releases them over a longer period. The only difference between crystal gel and silica beads is that the silica gel (once swollen) has an irregular shape that resembles coarse sands, while the silica beads are more rounded and have a polished appearance. The refill time for these humidification systems is around 2-4 weeks, and they last around 3 years.

Humidipack:

When I think about a humidipack, I instantly think about Boveda. Boveda is the most popular and widely used humidipack you will find. It works the same as the Crystal gel, but you can’t refill it. You can get various types of humidipacks depending on what percentage you need.

Electric Humidifier:

The last option out there is the electric humidifier. I currently own an Adorini Roma humidor, and I absolutely love it! This humidor came with an electric humidifier from the brand LV. In general, the principle of an electric humidifier is the same. You have a large tank filled with silica beads which you fill up with distilled water. The lid of the tank is fitted with one or multiple fans that will diffuse the moisture. The tanks are connected to a hygrometer that you can program. So, when your humidity level drops below a certain point, the fans will automatically start diffusing moisture. The big advantage of these systems is that they require little maintenance. They need a refill after about one and a half months.

Don’t forget to check with a calibrated hygrometer if the humidor’s hygrometer is correct.

Seasoning Your Humidor

The last part of this article is a quick guideline on how you should set up your new humidor. Make sure the place where you put the humidor has a constant temperature, and that sunlight doesn’t heat up the inside of your humidor. New humidors need to be seasoned. You do this by rubbing every square inch of the cedarwood with distilled water. By doing this, the cedar will start absorbing the water and get ready to host your cigars. Do this and leave your humidor closed for 24 hours. After 24 hours, check the level on your digital hygrometer; it should be between 68-72 percent. If the levels are too low, repeat the seasoning process; if the level is too high, vent your humidor for 15 minutes, and the levels should come down. An important item to keep in mind is air circulation between cigars. Many humidors use a shelf system, which is great, while others have a built-in rack that spaces out a bit of room between your bottom cigars and the bottom cedarwood plate. Make sure to rotate your cigars once a month if your humidor doesn’t have any spacing between your cigars.

With age comes plume. Make sure to remove this white plume from your cigars because plume can turn into mold. I use a special type of distilled water that is enriched with an antifungal product. I recommend using this a few times a year to keep your humidor and cigars in perfect condition.

Calibrating an Analogue Hygrometer

Most humidors come with a starter’s package. In this package, you will probably find a wonderful-looking analogue hygrometer. However, analogue meters need to be calibrated first to give you an accurate reading. But no worries, you can do this yourself; it’s easier than it looks. Start by taking a Ziplock bag or an air-sealed container, then put your hygrometer inside and place some salt in the bag as well. The humidity inside the container/Ziplock bag will reach a stable state determined by the salt’s RH value. This allows the sensor to be calibrated to a specific RH level. Another option is to simply put a Boveda pack of 69/72/75/… percent inside a Ziplock bag, place the meter inside as well, and check the levels after an hour or so. The level should match the percentage of the Boveda pack. If this is not the case, then you must adjust the meter by turning the wheel on the back of the meter.

Humidor Accessories

The last thing I want to highlight when you buy a humidor is a digital hygrometer. Most humidors come with an analogue hygrometer; however, analogue meters tend to be easily affected by various factors, such as opening the humidor, sunlight on the meter, changes in room temperature, etc. I own two Xikar digital meters. They only cost around 40 euros and are accurate. The battery lasted 2 years, and they are simple and elegant. They also give a reading of the inside temperature of your humidor.

The second accessory is the Xikar humidifier. If your humidor doesn’t maintain a constant humidity level, or the level keeps dropping too low for you, a simple Xikar humidifier fixes it! I used to put one in every humidor (before I went electric). These humidifiers also work with silica beads and have a magnet so you can hang them in the lid of your humidor.

Conclusion

As we’ve journeyed through the nuances of choosing and maintaining the perfect humidor, it’s evident that this is more than just a box for storing cigars. It’s an essential tool for any cigar aficionado, ensuring the longevity and quality of your prized collection. Whether you opt for the simplicity of Ziplock bags or the sophistication of a high-end Spanish cedar humidor, remember that the right choice depends on your personal collection, budget, and taste.

Investing in a quality humidor, understanding its maintenance, and respecting the craftsmanship that goes into each one can immensely enhance your cigar experience. From the wood’s thickness to the type of humidifier, every detail contributes to the preservation of your cigars. Seasoning your humidor correctly and calibrating your hygrometer are not just steps but rituals that deepen your connection to the cigar-smoking tradition.

As you embark on or continue your cigar journey, let this guide be a reminder of the importance of quality, care, and attention to detail. Happy smoking, and may your cigars always be stored in perfect condition!

Article by: Lukas Magdeleyns

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