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Cigar 101

How to Re-humidify Your Dry Cigars

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Patience is everything when it comes to re-humidifying your cigars. Cigars can dry out for a number of reasons. The most common culprit is either not having a humidor or not paying attention to the humidor you do have. Everyone does it once in a while. You go on vacation or you just get busy and forget to replenish the humidification unit inside your humidor for an extended period of time. As cold weather sets in, running the heat inside your home creates an overall drier environment which impacts the conditions in your humidor. The ideal conditions for storing cigars are 70% RH (relative humidity) and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When your cigars are subject to a lapse in these conditions, they will gradually lose moisture and, in turn, their integrity. Luckily, cigars don’t dry out overnight, but when they do, rehydrating them is essential before you smoke them. Smoking a dry cigar will taste bitter, one dimensional, and it will burn up much more quickly than intended. You can rehydrate your cigars after they’ve dried out in a few easy steps below, which we explain in greater detail. There are ways to store cigars and keep them fresh without a humidor, too.

  • Store your cigars in a Ziploc bag or a Tupperware container with a tight seal
  • Introduce your cigars to humidity gradually, starting with a lower RH level like 62%
  • Monitor your humidity with a hygrometer
  • Increase the humidity level every week or so (i.e., from 62% to 65% to 69% to 72%)
  • Give your cigars time to acclimate to each increase in humidity
  • Your cigars will gradually soften
  • When your cigars have sustained the desired humidity (ideally 69% or 72%) for a period of weeks, you can continue smoking them

Although we guarantee every cigar we sell at Holt’s is fresh and perfectly humidified when it’s shipped to your home, not all retailers are as attentive to their humidors. It’s possible to unknowingly pick up a few cigars that are too dry when you’re out shopping around. If this happens, we suggest returning them. Regardless of how you’ve managed to become the proprietor of dried-out smokes, here are some detailed tips for rehydrating dry cigars.

How Does the Cigar Feel?

First, let’s make sure we’ve got the proper diagnosis. We talk to a ton of customers who believe their cigars are dried out and stale if they’re not as soft and squishy as a fresh pack of hamburger buns. Not true! A cigar should feel somewhat soft to the touch and give slightly when you apply a bit of pressure rolling it between your finger and thumb, or as some call it, the pinch test. But, anything beyond that is likely an indication your cigar is either over-humidified or under-filled – both of which will interfere with your cigar’s draw and burn.

Dry cigars, however, will be overly firm. There isn’t much give at all when you squeeze a dry cigar. Be careful not to crack the wrapper leaf either. It’s not easy to fix a cracked cigar wrapper. The best evidence of a dry cigar is physical. If your hygrometer is reading below 62% humidity – especially if it’s been low for a long time – your cigars are on the path to drying out if they are not already there. The lower and longer the humidity deficiency, the more attention and patience is required in bringing your cigars back to life. It’s a process that often takes several weeks or months to accomplish.

Gradually Introduce Humidity

If it’s the first time you’ve cracked the lid on your humidor in four months and everything inside is as dry as a bone, don’t panic just yet. Before you blast your precious stash of Padron 1964 Anniversary, Fuente Fuente Opus X, or Ashton ESG cigars with water from the kitchen faucet, pump the brakes. When you need to rehydrate dry cigars, you have to do it gradually. Premium handmade cigars lose moisture at a rate four times faster than they can safely gain it. That means you have to re-humidify them in stages. If your cigars are already in a humidor, take them out and place them in a Ziploc bag or a clean Tupperware container with a humidification source. Boveda packs work best for gradually rehydrating your cigars.

Humidity Packs

The biggest advantage you get from using Boveda packs, or humidification bags, is that there is no guesswork in regulating your humidity level. Humidity packs are manufactured to deliver predetermined humidity levels. The patented 2-way system will not release too much humidity too quickly and does not require extensive maintenance or monitoring with a hygrometer. Preset humidity levels range from 62% humidity to up to 72%. Start with 62% humidity and gradually expose your cigars to increasing levels over a period of several weeks.

Cigars naturally expand and contract. Introducing a surge of humidity to the environment where you store them will cause them to explode, literally. If you jump to an overly aggressive humidity level, like 75% or 80% RH, you shock your cigars and cause the wrappers to crack.

Begin with a 62% pouch and replace it with a 65% after 2-3 weeks. The drier they are, the longer you should expose them to each humidity level. Then, replace the 65% with a 69% after another 2-3 weeks. We don’t recommend going over 72% as that represents a safe ceiling for cigar storage. A lot of cigar lovers won’t store their cigars over 69% RH.

You can also shock your cigars if you’re using a standard humidification unit that releases too much humidity. With a standard humidifier, it’s critical that you monitor the humidity with an accurate hygrometer. Start off by adding smaller doses of water to your humidification unit – just enough to achieve humidity levels in the lower 60s. Gradually introduce a higher percent humidity over time by adding more water to your humidification unit. A standard humidification unit requires a little more maintenance and attention, but you can definitely restore a box of dried out cigars this way as long as you’re diligent.

Re-Season Your Humidor

If your box dried out with your cigars, you’ll need to re-prep it as if you were first setting up your humidor by wiping down the interior with distilled water. Close the lid and let it sit for a day. Repeat the process. Refill your humidification unit with distilled water or propylene glycol solution, and wait for the humidor to achieve a consistent RH level of approximately 70%.

When enough time has passed and your cigars have recovered, you can return them to your humidor – or, you can continue storing your smokes in a humidification bag if you prefer. You’ll know that your cigars have recuperated by gently squeezing them. They shouldn’t crack or crackle. They should exhibit the same slightly soft consistency as you would expect when buying them fresh from the humidor of a reputable cigar retailer.

Rotate Your Cigars

Throughout the re-humidification process, it’s important to rotate your cigars. Because dry cigars are more susceptible to fluctuating humidity levels, rotate your collection so that the same cigars aren’t always nearest the humidification source. Move the top row of cigars to the bottom of the box and vice versa. Exposing your smokes to an even distribution of humidity ensures they will exhibit optimal flavor and burn. When you stack your cigars in your humidor, don’t fill it to maximum capacity. Leave roughly 20-25% of the space inside open for air and humidity to freely circulate.

Once your cigars have been fully restored, go ahead and smoke one. You’re looking for an even burn with a perfect draw and great flavor. Keep in mind, though, that cigars that have been dried out may lose some of the flavor you would normally anticipate because the natural oils you’re accustomed to tasting in the wrapper, binder, and filler tobaccos may have dissipated. Even so, it’s always better to re-humidify premium handcrafted cigars and at least give them a chance to come back instead of tossing them out. Patience is the main ingredient.

How to Prevent Your Cigars from Drying Out

Cigars go bad when they dry out. The best way to prevent this is to invest in a quality humidor and monitor your humidity. Get a digital hygrometer and calibrate it for an accurate reading of your humidity level. Check your humidity on a weekly basis. If the humidity level drops, refill your humidification unit or replace your Boveda packs before your cigars dry out. 

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