A cigar humidor, as the name implies, is a device that can store cigars under a stable level of humidity; and ideally temperature. The ideal conditions for storing a cigar are at 70% Relative Humidity and a temperature of 210C. Most commonly cigar humidors are wooden boxes that can enable cigars to be stored for decades under ideal conditions. However, manufacturers and traders in cigars can also have rooms dedicated as humidors, which again maintain a 70% level of Relative Humidity and 20-210C temperature.
Types of humidor
Anywhere that a large number of cigars need to be stored will have a Room Humidor. This could be a cigar manufacturer, a cigar trader, a private club with smoking rooms, bars, restaurants or even an individual with a real passion for cigars. Room humidors can be constructed from any material and located anywhere inside another building or on there own. The only important thing is that it is an environmentally controlled room, maintaining the all important levels of relative humidity and temperature.
Table Humidors are more likely to be found in cigar retail stores or individual cigar smokers who buy in bulk orders. A table humidor can be portable, but is more usually quite an ornate and large device that can hold anything from a few hundred to a few thousands of cigars. Essentially a larger version of the personal humidor – they can have glass, marble and leather exteriors. Anyone who considers them-self to be a cigar connoisseur, if they don’t have a table humidor, will almost certainly have a Personal Humidor to store their cigars in. Usually capable of holding between 25 and 100 cigars most will appear to be a simple wooden box.
However, they can be made from a variety of woods and are often personalized and decorated according to the owner’s instructions. Finally you can buy a Travel Humidor. These are a smaller version of the personal humidor into which you can typically store 5, 10 or 20 cigars. These are particularly useful if you’re going away on vacation or out for an evening’s entertainment etc.
Spanish Cedar wood and humidors
Many different materials can be used to make cigar humidors but whatever material is used on the outside of it – the inside of the humidor will most probably be Spanish Cedar. Spanish Cedar has been determined to be the ideal material for the inside of cigar humidors because it retains moisture better than most other woods, which is crucial as the ability of it to retain moisture determines how well it can maintain a constant level of humidity.
Secondly, the aroma that Cuban cigars assimilate from Spanish Cedar wood is known to both complement and enhance their presentation. The third advantage of Spanish Cedar is that under conditions of relatively high humidity many woods can warp and cup – Spanish Cedar doesn’t. The fourth and final reason for using Spanish Cedar relates to a cigar pest – the tobacco beetle. Spanish Cedar is an ideal wood for maintaining temperature and humidity conditions that will suppress the tobacco beetle.
Preparing your humidor for use
With the best will in the world if you buy a cigar humidor the Spanish Cedar lining will almost inevitably have dried out to some degree. Unfortunately this means that your humidor will not be working at its maximum efficiency – as it will not be able to produce and maintain conditions of 70% relative humidity ideal for your cigars. To prepare your humidor for use you need to re-season the wood.
It is possible to do this quickly by wiping the interior Spanish Cedar wood with a damp cloth. However, cigar purists would not contemplate this method. The recommended method to season the wood is to place a small dish of water inside the box with the lid closed for at least 12 hours. On checking the water level in the dish you should find it has all evaporated, or it has at least diminished by quite a lot.
Repeat this every 24 hours until the water level no longer goes down. Then your humidor is ready to use, as the Spanish Cedar wood is now moist enough to maintain the 70% relative humidity level. Finally add water to the humidifying element of the humidor, which may be something as simple as a sponge, and store it at a constant 210C.
Humidors and mold
A serious risk to the quality of the cigars that you store in your humidor is the occurrence of mold. Mold loves damp and warm conditions – such as those inside a humidor! Lots of things can contribute to the occurrence of mold but essentially they arise in moist and warm conditions where there is also a nutrient that could be a speck of food or even just dirt.
So, make sure your hands are clean when handling your cigars in or out of your humidor and avoid any risk of dirt or food/drink spilling into it. Finally, tap and even mineral water can contain bacteria and potential mold nutrients, so use distilled water with the humidifier. Most humidor manufacturers and retailers will provide you with further information regarding the humidor you purchase and protecting it from molds.
Humidors and tobacco beetles
It’s no use thinking that tobacco beetles could only possibly be a problem in the country where the cigars are made. A potential problem with hand-rolled cigars is that the tiny tobacco beetle could be inadvertently rolled into a Cuban cigar. Whilst this tiny pest will eat tobacco leaves the fact that it could then lay it’s even smaller and harder to see beetle eggs, is more of a problem.
Almost impossible to see with the naked eye tobacco beetle eggs will hatch if the temperature rises to 250C and the humidity level is low. The result of this is that if you buy a box of hand-rolled top quality cigars that haven’t been stored properly – they could be ruined by the tobacco beetle eggs hatching inside the box, and them then eating the cigar tobacco leaves. The only solution to this potential problem is to store your cigars in a humidor at a constant 210C and 70% relative humidity.