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Cigar 101

How to Use Boveda Packs

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Boveda is the leading manufacturer of humidity packs used in the cigar, food packaging, musical instrument, and cannabis industries. Boveda, which is Spanish for vault, is a patented two-way humidity control developed by retired General Mills chemist Dr. Al Saari and packaging specialist Robert Esse in the late 1990s. Dr. Saari sought an efficient and reliable method for humidifying his personal cigar collection that eliminated the mess and guesswork of traditional humidification devices. The best conditions for keeping cigars fresh are 70% RH (relative humidity) and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Many humidification methods require frequent monitoring and maintenance, but not Boveda. Cigar-makers and consumers have been swearing by Boveda for years. We explain how to use Boveda below.

How to Use Boveda for Cigars

When you’re using Boveda to keep your cigars fresh, simply remove the pack from the cellophane sleeve and place it in your humidor. Boveda packs release humidity through osmosis and last anywhere from a few months to six months, or longer, in some cases. If you use extra Boveda packs, they last the longest. Eventually the salt on the inside of the packs crystalizes causing the packs to become stiff. When this occurs, it’s time to replace your packs with new ones.

Boveda packs are used in many industries today, including cigars, cannabis, food packaging, and musical instruments that are sensitive to fluctuations in humidity, like acoustic guitars. The application of Boveda varies for products other than tobacco.

How Boveda Packs Work

When salt and water are mixed together, they naturally regulate humidity. That’s why we perform the salt test to calibrate a hygrometer. Boveda packs are made of a patented membrane that allows for purified water vapor to be emitted and absorbed continually. Inside each pack is a mixture of salt and purified water. Moisture is released through osmosis to achieve a predetermined RH in the environment the Boveda pack is placed in. Boveda packs become stiff when their humidity is depleted, which happens gradually over the course of months as your cigars absorb moisture from them. When Boveda packs firm up and are no longer soft and malleable, it’s time to replace them. You can place Boveda packs anywhere in your humidor.

How Long Do Boveda Packs Last?

How long Boveda packs stay fresh depends on how many packs you’re using, how many cigars you’re humidifying, and how tight the seal is on your humidor. Generally, a single 69% RH 60-gram Boveda pack will effectively humidify up to 25 cigars for two to four months in a humidor with a reliable seal. Boveda lasts longer when you use multiple packs in tandem, but you should use matching RH levels. Boveda packs last the longest in airtight environments like acrylic humidors, mason jars, Tupperdors, and coolerdors. Simply squeeze your Boveda packs to measure their freshness. When they become stiff, toss them out and replace them.

What Percent Boveda Packs Should I Use?

Boveda packs are produced to deliver several different RH levels. For storing cigars, there are five primary RH levels to consider:

65% RH

Use this when you prefer slightly firmer cigars, or you are storing and aging your cigars for several years.

69% RH

This is the most popular RH for keeping cigars fresh in both wooden and airtight acrylic humidors with an aggressive seal.

72% RH

Use this for slightly softer cigars and to compensate for moisture loss in a classic wooden humidor.

75% RH

Use this for soft cigars or for humidors with a less reliable seal.

84% RH

Use this for seasoning a new humidor only, NOT for humidifying cigars.

Avoid mixing Boveda packs of differing RH levels, i.e., don’t mix a 72% RH pack with a 65% RH pack. Boveda packs of differing RH levels will work against one another. The 84% RH pack is far too humid for routine cigar storage and should only be used to season a new humidor, which requires a significant dose of humidity initially. Once the seasoning process is complete, the 84% RH packs will likely still contain moisture, but you should not use them to keep your cigars fresh. Too much humidity can negatively impact the taste and performance of premium cigars.

How Many Boveda Packs Should I Use?

One 60-gram Boveda pack is good for 25 cigars. Here is a general guide you can follow:

Number of Packs

Size of Boveda Pack

Cigar Capacity of Humidor

1

60-Gram

25-Count Humidor

2

60-Gram

50-Count Humidor

3

60-Gram

100-Count Humidor

You cannot use too many Boveda packs. The more you use, the longer they last, but don’t mix differing RH levels. Smaller 8-gram Boveda packs are ideal for storing a few cigars in a Ziploc bag for a few days or weeks. Larger 320-gram Boveda packs are also available for large-capacity humidors. Boveda packs are sold individually or in convenient bricks of 12 or 20 packs for easy replenishment. 

How to Season a Humidor with Boveda Packs

Boveda is an easy way to set up and season your humidor for the first time. Rely on 84% RH Boveda packs to season a new humidor in a few simple steps:

  1.  Choose the right number of packs based on the size of your humidor from our chart above.
  2.  Remove the 84% RH Boveda packs from the cellophane.
  3.  Place them in your humidor, and close the lid.
  4.  Leave the Boveda packs in your sealed humidor for 14 days.
  5.  After the seasoning period, remove the Boveda packs and discard them.
  6.  Place your cigars in your humidor with new Boveda packs of your preferred RH level (65%, 69%, 72%, or 75%).
  7.  Monitor your hygrometer to ensure your humidor is providing an effective seal for maintaining Boveda’s consistent RH as you store your cigars.

Is It Okay for Boveda Packs to Touch My Cigars?

Boveda packs can touch your cigars. They will not hurt or damage your cigars. When you are organizing the cigars in your humidor, remember to rotate them on a regular basis to facilitate airflow and equal access to humidity.

Should You Recharge Boveda Packs?

Boveda advises against recharging humidity packs, but there are super-thrifty cigar lovers who do it anyway to get the maximum mileage out of their packs. However, you risk losing a precise RH level, and when the salt crystalizes in a Boveda pack, there is potential for it to tear the membrane open and damage your cigars.

For what it’s worth, most aficionados who use Boveda don’t like to fuss around with their humidors in the first place, so soaking the packs in distilled water to recharge them is more work than it’s worth. We recommend popping a new pack in your humidor when the old ones dry out and keeping it simple.

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