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Cigar 101

Why a Humidor Might Lose Humidity

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Maintaining a humidor is simple, but you’re not alone if your humidor is losing humidity. Cigars should be stored at approximately 70% RH (relative humidity) and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s normal for the humidity to spike, temporarily, and drop back to a normal operating level after you refill the humidification unit. But, if your humidor struggles to maintain consistent humidity despite regular maintenance, let’s find out why.

Most humidors are made of Spanish cedar, or a composite wood with a cedar lining, but not all humidors are created equal. How you maintain your humidor will impact its performance too. The humidity in the best humidors will fluctuate based on a few factors. We outline them below to help you diagnose why your humidor isn’t holding humidity.

Get a Reliable Hygrometer

Before you fix a humidor that’s losing humidity, make sure it’s actually losing humidity. A reliable hygrometer is essential to monitor the humidity in your humidor accurately. There are differences between analog versus digital hygrometers, but both must be calibrated. Invest in a precise hygrometer and check it regularly before you attempt to remedy the situation. If your hygrometer isn’t registering the true humidity in your box, you could wind up over-humidifying your cigars.

You Have a Leaky Humidor

There’s no shame in starting a cigar collection with an inexpensive beginner humidor, but if the construction and materials are not up to par, your humidor could leak. A leaky humidor allows humidity to escape through the seal when the lid is closed. You can compensate for the continual loss of humidity by refilling your humidification device more often, or using a higher RH in your Boveda packs, like 72% or 75% RH. It’s best to eventually replace a leaky humidor with a model that’s better made.

Proper Seasoning

Did you season your humidor properly when you bought it? Failure to establish an equilibrium of 70% RH inside the box before you put your cigars inside means your humidor will continually compete with your cigars for moisture and the humidity deficit will deplete your humidification source faster. Also, if your humidor has been out of service for a while and it’s dried out, remove any cigars and re-season it as if it were a new box. After you achieve consistent readings in the range of 65-70% RH, you can store your cigars inside the box again. Expect the humidity level to increase and drop after you refill the reservoir. It’s also normal for the humidity to drop when you add more cigars to the box. A good humidor will maintain the desired humidity within four or five percentage points as long as you service it regularly.

Don’t Leave the Lid Open

This advice is obvious, but cigar lovers who obsess over their cigars and constantly open and close the lid on the humidor to organize or show off their cigars run the risk of letting the humidity out. Keep the lid closed unless you’re grabbing a smoke or rotating your cigars.

Regular Maintenance

Perform regular humidor maintenance by refilling your reservoir with distilled water or propylene glycol when the RH dips into the low 60s. If you use Boveda packs, replace them when they stiffen up and dry out. Boveda packs last anywhere from 2 to 6 months depending on the number of cigars you’re storing. If too much time has lapsed since you last added water to your humidor, and the box is dried out, repeat the seasoning process.

Location in Your Home

Avoid storing your humidor in direct sunlight or near a heat source. Continual exposure to light and heat will cause the humidity to evaporate inside the box, and your cigars will lose humidity as a result.

How Many Cigars Are You Storing?

The number of cigars you store should be lower than the maximum capacity of your humidor. It’s best to leave about twenty to twenty-five percent of the space in your humidor empty for air and humidity to circulate with ease. If your humidor can hold 25 cigars, store up to 20. If you stuff your humidor to the gills, the humidity you add to the box won’t last as long, and you’ll have to replenish your reservoir more frequently. Storing too many cigars restricts the distribution of humidity.

Storing Cigars That Are Dried Out

If somebody just gave you a box of cigars as a gift and they’re (unintentionally) dried out, they will soak up a disproportionate amount of humidity when you put them in your humidor. Dried out cigars can throw off the humidity in your humidor. Consider putting any dried-out cigars in a Ziploc bag with a Boveda pack for a few weeks, or until they’re fully humidified, before you transfer them to your humidor. Cigars that are adequately humidified won’t disturb your humidity level.

Humidor Alternatives

There are plenty of aficionados who store cigars without a humidor. If you’re fed up with regulating a traditional wooden box to keep your cigars fresh, you’ve got options. Alternatives like humidor bags or Tupperware are just as effective at keeping cigars fresh. If you buy multiple boxes at a time, converting a cooler into a coolidor is a great way to store a large inventory. Acrylic humidors have become popular, too, because their airtight seals don’t allow any humidity to escape. Consider how many cigars you’ll be storing and if you want to age them for long periods of time versus keeping them fresh for a few weeks before you choose the best humidor to suit your needs.

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