Cigar 101

How to Rehumidify Your Dry Cigars

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Patience is everything when it comes to rehumidifying 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. Sometimes, as colder weather sets in, running the heat inside your home creates an overall drier environment which impacts the conditions in your humidor. Remember, 70% humidity and 70 degrees Fahrenheit are the ideal conditions for storing your cigars. 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, rehumidifying them is essential before your smoke them. Dry cigars will taste bitter, one dimensional, and will burn up much more quickly than intended.

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 always suggest returning them, if possible. Regardless of how you’ve managed to become the proprietor of dry cigars, we’ve prepared a few tips for rehumidifying your smokes below.

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! Cigars should feel somewhat soft to the touch and give slightly when you apply a bit of pressure with your fingertips. But, anything beyond that is likely an indication your cigars are either over-humidified or under-filled – both of which are unwanted circumstances.

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 nearly impossible to remedy a cracked wrapper. The best evidence of a dry cigar is physical. If your hygrometer is reading below 65% 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 into tip-top shape. It’s a process that often takes several weeks or months to accomplish.

Gradually Introduce Humidity

Okay, it’s the first time you’ve cracked the lid on your humidor in four months and the box and everything inside is dry as a bone. Before you panic and dose your precious stash of Padron 1964 Anniversary, Fuente Fuente Opus X, or Ashton ESG smokes with a blast of water from the kitchen faucet, pump the brakes. A knee-jerk reaction is not the way to remedy your cigar collection of dried out cigars.

When you need to rehydrate, or rehumidify, 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 rehumidify them in stages. If your cigars are already in a humidor, take them out and place them in a ziplock bag. (You can also use a clean Tupperware container in lieu of a ziplock.) You may or may not use humidity pillows in your humidor as your primary humidification source, but you can definitely use them in a ziplock bag when you’re rehumidifying your cigars.

Humidity Pouches

The biggest advantage humidity pouches, or humidification bags, offer over a standard humidification unit is that there is no guesswork in regulating your humidity level. Humidity pouches made by companies like Boveda, for example, 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 84%. Start with 62% humidity and gradually expose your cigars to increasing levels over a period of several weeks or months.

Cigars naturally expand and contract. Injecting a surge of humidity into your humidor or a ziplock bag will cause them to explode, literally. We’ve talked to customers before who will jump to an 84% pouch to bring their dried out cigars back. This is a mistake. The 84% pouch is really only for prepping a new humidor, not for actually humidifying the cigars, as the percent humidity is too aggressive. It will be particularly damaging to a batch of dry cigars. Tossing an 84% pouch into a bag of dry cigars will shock them and cause the wrappers to crack.

Begin with a 62% pouch and replace it with a 65% after 2-3 weeks, depending on how dry the cigars are. 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 elect to stop at 69%, too.

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.

Rehumidify Your Humidor

In the meantime, if your humidor dried out with your cigars, you’ll need to re-prep the box 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 – just like you were prepping a new box.

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 rehumidification process, it’s important to rotate your cigars – especially when they are in your humidor. 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.

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 rehumidify premium handcrafted cigars and at least give them a chance to come back instead of abandoning them in the trash. Patience is the main ingredient.

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