If you are a cigar smoker, you should be aware of the importance of keeping your cigars in a humidor. A humidor is a humidity controlled box, which can regulate the level of the humidity within it. Cigars require a specific level of humidity and moisture to ensure that they burn correctly and taste the best they can. While cigar aficionados will agree that owning a humidor is a must, the choice of which humidor you should pick may seem slightly overwhelming to some. We take a look at some of the things you need to look for in a humidor and address some of the choices you will need to make when choosing a one.
It is essential to pick a humidor that can accommodate your current collection while saving a little room for future additions. You want to ensure that your humidor doesn’t have too much empty space, nor that the cigars are too squished in. Oversized humidors can be resolved by getting a different sized humidification system or adding in sections with bits of cedar wood, but there is no getting around a humidor that is too small. Cigars need air flow to be appropriately stored, so cramming them in will not do. While a smaller humidor will typically be cheaper, you could soon find yourself spending far more than intended when you have to buy another one to meet your growing cigar collection.
Cigar humidors typically come in capacity increments of 25 cigars, with 25, 50, 75 and 100 cigar humidors being some of the most common options. However, there are many special edition humidors that can hold a wider range of cigars, with humidor cabinets available for real cigar lovers that can hold thousands of smokes!
Wood Type: Solid vs Veneer
Humidors are available in both veneer or solid wood. While it may seem as if solid wood humidors will be superior to veneer humidors, this isn’t always the case. While solid wood humidors may be the one to pass on down the family one day, veneer humidors can withstand changes in humidity better. Solid wood humidors will typically be more expensive than veneer humidors.
Ultimately, the quality of the humidor is more down to the type of wood used. Inside the humidor, it will – as the name suggests – be quite humid! As such, the internal wood may expand and crack if not suited to the humidity. Therefore, it is best to choose a humidor that is made from wood that grows in a humid environment. This will mean that it can withstand the humidity and resist warping and cracking when it changes. Some examples are Mahogany, Rosewood and Ebony.
While you can have your pick of wood types to create the exterior of your humidor, the inside lining should be Spanish cedar wood. Spanish cedar is by far the superior choice for lining your humidor, as it has a high level of humidity absorption that can both maintain the climate within the humidor, and prevent mould from developing. The wood is fragrant and adds a positive flavour to your cigars while supporting the ageing process. It is resistant to cracking when the wood expands and contracts, making it the ideal choice for within the humidor. The scent created by the cedar wood also helps to protect your humidor from tobacco worms.
The lining of the humidor should be as thick as possible, as it will provide better insulation and keep your cigars stable for longer. As well as lining the base and walls of the humidor, cedar wood can also be used to create partitions and sections within your humidor, if you want to keep certain cigars separate to age.
The humidor should be impermeable, with a secure seal that doesn’t even let a piece of paper pass through it. Humidors must be airtight for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it ensures that the internal humidity level is maintained at a constant level. A good seal will also help to prevent insects from entering the box, as some can cause damage to your cigars.
While your humidor will come with a humidification system, this doesn’t always mean that it is the right one for the size of your box. Top quality manufacturers will often use the correct size humidifier, however, unfortunately, this is not always the case. If your humidifier is too small for the size of your humidor and the number of cigars stored inside, then your cigars may become dry, while too much humidification can cause mould to develop. The optimum humidity level is between 65-70 percent. You will want a decent hygrometer in your humidor to check the humidity level – just ensure that they are properly calibrated.
There are a few options when it comes to which humidifier you should use. While sponge has long been the traditional method of humidification, crystal and humidification packs are fast overtaking as the most popular ways of maintaining cigar humidification.
The sponge or foam humidifiers are simply soaked in water or a solution; Propylene Glycol 50/50 is a popular option. The sponge is then placed in a plastic container and uses capillary action to bring water or the liquid to the surface and release it over time. Such sponges will need to be refilled every two weeks, or more if your cigars are feeling dry. The sponge itself is likely to need replacing yearly.
Crystal humidifiers are typically longer-lasting and more reliable than a sponge humidifier. Crystal humidifiers usually come in a container that can simply be placed in the humidor. They often work in two ways, both emitting and absorbing moisture to ensure a consistent 70 percent humidity level is maintained. Crystal humidifiers can be found in sizes to suit the number of cigars stored in your humidor, so the right level of humidity is gained. Xikar’s crystal humidifiers can simply be recharged using the Propylene Glycol solution when needed.
Boveda humidor packs contain salt and purified water that are slowly released through reverse osmosis to provide perfect humidity. They can be purchased in a range of humidity levels (62, 65, 69, 75 and 84 percent), allowing you to choose the level that best suits your cigar collections needs. Boveda packs do not need to be refilled but will need replacing around every three months. They are relatively affordable though, with a single 8g pack costing 69 pence here at Havana House!
You can find out more about what you need from a humidor in our guide to cigar humidification, which explores how you should prepare your humidor for cigar storage.