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How to Season a Humidor: Set Up a Cigar Humidor Using the Best Methods

Introduction: Setting the Stage to Season Your Humidor:

For any cigar aficionado, a well-maintained humidor isn’t just a storage accessory; it’s a crucial element that can make or break the cigar experience. However, you can’t start using a humidor straight out of the box. It needs to be carefully set up and properly seasoned. This comprehensive guide will help you learn how to season a cigar humidor for the first time, ensuring you can enjoy the full flavor and aroma of your best cigars.

Why is it Necessary to Season a Cigar Humidor? Understanding the Importance:

Before we dive into the process, it’s worth understanding why it is necessary to season a humidor. Cigars must be stored in a specific environment, ideally around 70% relative humidity (RH) and 70°F. A well-conditioned humidifier replicates the tropical climates where most cigar tobacco is grown and fermented, ensuring your cigars stay fresh, tasty, and ready to smoke. Make your cigars feel at home and they’ll give you the best of themselves.

Step 1: Understanding the Components of a Cigar Humidor for Proper Seasoning:

A humidifier typically includes a hygrometer, a humidifier, and a Spanish cedar interior, which is essential in maintaining the right humidity inside your humidor. The hygrometer measures humidity levels, the humidifier helps maintain your cigars at the ideal humidity level, and the Spanish cedar helps balance humidity while imparting a pleasant aroma. These three elements must be taken into account when choosing your humidor. Their presence is essential to keep your cigars in the best possible condition, but they must also be of high quality. In particular, digital hygrometers are generally more accurate. Be aware that cedar wood is a true cigar companion, so choose a humidor with a good quantity of cedar wood in your humidor to ensure the best environment for your cigars.

Step 2: Calibrating the Hygrometer in Your New Humidor:

The accuracy of your hygrometer is essential to maintaining optimum humidity levels when you set up a humidor, especially in a brand new humidor. To calibrate it, consider using the salt test method. To begin, take a plastic bottle cap, clean it to remove any impurities, and put about a teaspoon of table salt inside, then add a little water until it forms a pasty mixture. Now place the hygrometer and the salt-filled bottle cap in a zip-lock plastic bag. After 6 to 8 hours, check the hygrometer. If it reads 75%, it’s accurate. If not, adjust it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some recent hygrometers are pre-calibrated or feature a digital display that eliminates this process.

Step 3: Preparing Your Humidification Unit for the First Time:

The humidification device, whether a sponge, crystal gel, or bead system, helps regulate the humidity level inside your humidor, especially when you are preparing your humidor. Use distilled water or a propylene glycol solution (also known as a 50/50 solution) to fill your unit. Tap water is not suitable, as it contains minerals that can clog your humidor and lead to mold on your cigars. For sponge-based devices, let the sponge absorb the solution for a few minutes, then drain the excess before placing it back in the humidor.

Step 4: The Right Ways to Season a Humidor for Optimal Cigar Preservation:

Although you can achieve faster results by wiping the inside of your humidor with a clean sponge or rag soaked in distilled water, it’s generally better to season your humidor progressively, over a few days, especially when you are setting it up for the first time.

Simply soak your sponge in cold distilled water. Wring the sponge lightly, but not completely. You want the sponge to retain a good amount of water, but not so much that it’s dripping wet. Place a plastic bag inside the humidor and place your sponge on (not in) the plastic bag. The bag simply provides a barrier so that the sponge doesn’t come into direct contact with the wood in your humidor. Don’t hesitate to leave removable humidor accessories such as trays or shelves inside while you humidify the interior. This way, the shelf itself will also absorb the moisture, helping to maintain the right humidity in your humidor.

Now that the hard part’s over, you can close the lid and wait for at least 3-5 days with the damp sponge and humidification unit inside. You can wait longer if you wish – some cigar aficionados wait up to 2 weeks to fully season a brand new humidor. Remember to also place your newly calibrated hygrometer in the humidor to monitor the humidity levels accurately.

Step 5: Checking Humidity Levels in Your Seasoned Humidor:

After the initial seasoning period of 3-5 days or more, it’s time to check the internal humidity in your humidor using your hygrometer. Ideally, it should register between 75% and 80%. This is slightly higher than the optimal range, but don’t worry; once you place your cigars inside, they will absorb some of the moisture, bringing the humidity down to around 70%. If the humidity is not high enough, you may need to season your humidor by repeating the process. Remember, patience is key to preparing your humidor correctly.

Good to know: If your humidor comes with a solid cedar wood interior, not just a cedar lining, the humidification process may take a bit longer. Depending on the wood in your humidor, you might find yourself repeating the process a few days later to achieve the ideal humidity level for your cigar storage.

Step 6: Welcoming Your Cigars to a Properly Set Up Humidor:

Once the humidity level inside your newly seasoned humidor reaches the optimal range of 75% to 80% RH, it’s time to place your cigars inside. To ensure proper cigar storage, fill your humidor to at least half its capacity, taking into consideration the total cigars your humidor can hold. However, avoid overfilling it; it’s advisable to leave about 20% empty space to facilitate air circulation and maintain the humidity in your cigars. An overfilled humidor can lead to uneven humidification, potentially damaging the quality of your cigars and hindering your ability to keep your cigars fresh.

Step 7: Maintaining Your Humidor Properly Over Time:

Cigar aficionados often find themselves with long intervals between the times they smoke a cigar. During such periods, it can be all too easy to neglect your humidor. However, it is essential to keep your humidor maintained, ensuring the ideal humidity level of 65% to 72% is sustained to keep your cigars fresh.

When the readings on your hygrometer start to fall below 60%, it signals the need to season your cigar humidor by refilling your humidification unit. You have a choice between distilled water or a propylene glycol solution for the refill, with the latter offering extra protection against unwanted bacterial growth. Many prefer using distilled water for regular refills and incorporating the propylene glycol solution every 3 or 4 cycles to maintain the humidity in your humidor. It is crucial to avoid tap water to prevent mildew growth and potential damage to your humidor.

Another key, but often overlooked, step is to rotate the cigars in your humidor. Avoid leaving the same cigars closest to your humidification source all the time; instead, mix things up and move the cigars from top to bottom and vice versa every week or two. This not only ensures even humidification but also gives you a chance to evaluate your collection and, of course, enjoy a cigar!

Alternative Seasoning Method: How to Season a Humidor with Boveda Packs:

The popularity of Boveda humidity packs is on the rise, especially for those learning how to season a cigar humidor, due to their ease of use and efficiency. These packs are a great tool when you’re setting up a humidor, engineered to emit a pre-specified humidity level, simplifying the task of humidification by eliminating guesswork. Upon removal from its protective cellophane sleeve and placement inside of your humidor, the pack begins its moisture release, initiating the necessary process to season your humidor.

The quantity of Boveda packs required correlates with the size of your humidor. For seasoning a brand new humidor, you’ll need an 84% RH pack for about every 25 cigars your humidor can hold. Therefore, for a 25-count humidor, a single 84% RH pouch is sufficient, while a 50-count humidor requires two.

Position your 84% RH packs inside the humidor along with your hygrometer, then shut the lid. Leave it untouched for two weeks as the box adjusts to an 84% humidity equilibrium. The initial hygrometer reading shouldn’t cause concern, as it takes a while for the humidor to absorb enough moisture and stabilize at the correct humidity level.

After the two-week period, verify the humidity level on your hygrometer, which should display a reading in the lower to mid-80s. Replace the 84% RH packs with packs delivering a lower humidity level, such as 69% or 72% RH, to ensure your humidor is ready for your cigars. The ideal humidity for the regular maintenance of your cigar storage boils down to personal preference, with 65%, 69%, or 72% RH typically recommended. Remember, the 84% RH packs are solely for the initial seasoning, and not for everyday cigar humidification. Over-humidification can lead to negative effects, including potential wrapper splitting.

Upon prepping your humidor, you can proceed to place your cigars inside. As the humidity in the Boveda packs depletes over time, becoming hardened, they should be replaced. The number of cigars and the quantity of pouches used impacts the lifespan of each pouch. However, a Boveda pouch generally lasts at least two months, and often considerably longer.

For optimal effectiveness, it is advised not to mix different humidity levels. For instance, adding a 72% pouch to a humidor with 69% RH pouches will not provide extra humidity, but rather disrupt the humidity balance as the pouches compete rather than maintain a consistent equilibrium.

Understanding the Influence of External Climate on Humidor Seasoning:

Take into account the climate in which you live when you set up a cigar humidor, especially if you are doing it for the first time. Dry and arid regions, such as deserts, require more frequent refilling of the humidifier to keep the humidor functioning and to maintain the desired humidity in your humidor. If you live in a region with distinct seasons, it’s wise to pay particular attention to the humidity level of your humidor during winter, especially when indoor heating is in use, to ensure you keep your cigars fresh. Conversely, during hot, humid summers, your humidifier may need to be refilled less frequently. The way cigars react to climatic conditions has a considerable influence on our maintenance routine, affecting how often you need to season your cigar humidor and how you store your cigars to preserve the optimal moisture in your cigars.

How to Deal with Over-Humidification in Your Cigar Humidor:

In the event of overhumidification inside your humidor, which can occur when you are setting up a humidor or during the maintenance phase, resulting in hygrometer readings consistently above 72% relative humidity after the initial drying period, the ideal course is to slowly reduce the humidity level. It’s not advisable to leave the lid of your humidor fully open overnight in an attempt to reduce humidity, as this could shock both your cigars and the humidor’s wooden lining, potentially damaging your humidor. Instead, temporarily remove the humidifier (for a few hours or even a day) and place an object in the humidor opening, like a pen for example, to leave the lid slightly open and allow the humidity to escape, ensuring the humidor regulates the humidity level. Once the humidity level has dropped, replace the humidifier and close the humidor. It may take a day or two to achieve a constant humidity level, but it’s essential for the well-being of your cigar collection to maintain humidity levels in the 65% to 72% range, a range designed to keep your cigars in optimal condition.

The process of installing and maintaining a humidor is fairly straightforward, and with a functional humidifier, you’re ready to grow your cigar collection considerably!

Conclusion: Enjoying the Best Cigars from a Well-Seasoned Humidor:

Setting up and seasoning a brand new humidor for the first time may seem like a complex process, but it’s a labor of love for all cigar aficionados. Thanks to this guide to seasoning a humidor, your humidor will be ready to provide the ideal environment inside your humidor for your precious cigar collection, ensuring that every cigar is smoked to perfection. It’s an art, a science, and the gateway to enjoying your cigar experience to the full, allowing you to grow your cigar collection in a space designed to keep your cigars fresh and at their best.


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