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Cigar 101

Rotating Cigars in a Humidor

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Premium handmade cigars should be stored at 70% RH (relative humidity) and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining consistent humidity in your humidor is critical but making sure all the cigars in the box can access the humidity is equally important. Most Spanish cedar humidors, with a traditional humidification device, don’t actively distribute the humidity. Your cigars, and the wood the humidor is made from, absorb moisture from the humidification unit. To ensure your cigars stay fresh, calibrate your hygrometer, check it regularly to monitor the humidity level inside the box, and rotate your cigars every month or so.

Rotate Your Cigars

When you’re stacking cigars in a humidor, those closest to the humidification source will absorb a disproportionate amount of moisture over time versus the cigars that are furthest away. Rotating your cigars is the best way to encourage consistent access to humidity for all the cigars in your box. Periodically moving your cigars around in your humidor is especially important when you plan to age them for a long time. Move the cigars on the top row to the bottom and vice versa.

If you use Boveda packs in your humidor, setting the packs directly on your cigars will not hurt your cigars because Boveda packs deliver humidity through a patented two-way membrane that absorbs and releases a consistent RH. However, you should still rotate your cigars to facilitate airflow and access to moisture.

Don’t Fill Your Humidor to Maximum Capacity

As a general rule, leave about 25% of the space in your humidor open. Packing your humidor to maximum capacity prevents air and humidity from reaching your entire inventory. Leave some breathing room for humidity to get in between your cigars. When choosing a new humidor, always buy one that can hold more cigars than you typically keep on hand.

Keep the Cellophane On or Off?

Keeping the cellophane on or off your cigars is a personal preference. The natural oils and aromas of your cigars meld with greater ease when the cellophane is off, and some aficionados enjoy the effect of marrying the taste of different cigars. Exercise caution handling cigars with fragile wrappers when you store them with the cellophane off. It’s easy to tear or crack the wrappers on your cigars when you’re taking them in and out of your humidor if you’re not patient. If you take your cigars out of the house to smoke them, it’s better to leave the cellophane on to protect them while they’re in transit.

Wash Your Hands Before Rotating Cigars

Believe it or not, you can introduce bacteria which can cause mold in your humidor when you handle your cigars. Because rotating your cigars is a little more involved than grabbing a cigar from the box, wash your hands to be safe.

Humidity Distribution in Different Types of Humidors

In a larger environment, like a wine fridge, a fan circulates the air and humidity around your cigars. Acrylic humidors offer more of a sterile, airtight environment, where little humidity escapes compared to a traditional cedar humidor. If you buy a lot of cigars and store them in a coolerdor, adequate exposure to moisture is especially important in a deep, cavernous environment. Not all humidors function with the same level of efficiency, so keep that in mind when you’re rotating your cigars. There are plenty ways to keep your cigars fresh without a humidor, too, if you’re just getting into cigars and aren’t ready to invest in a box.

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