A box for storing cigars in optimal conditions (from Latin humidus meaning "moist", through French).

Cigars want to be kept at about 70° F, and a relative humidity of between 65% and 75%. This sort of moderately tropical microclimate is essential to cigar storage. Why ? Nothing much happens if it is colder than that, in fact you can even freeze your cigars. If it is hotter than that, though, certain insect eggs which may be present in the cigars will hatch. And those bugs will eat your cigars. If humidity is less than that, your cigars will become hard, possibly crack, and when you smoke them they will burn like tinder. Not pretty.
If it is more humid than 75%, the tobacco will probably swell, making for a "tighter" draw. If they get really humid, you may have evil fermentation phenomena.

Humidors are generally quite expensive. But you can build your own quite easily: use a tupperware-like thing (any brand will obviously do, as long as it has an air-tight seal). Store the cigars together with a humidifier: this can be built by soaking a little piece of sponge in a 50% water-propylene glycol solution. Too lazy for that ? Use a water-table salt slurry.
The humidifier, though, should NOT be soaked with pure water. This would tend to bringing relative humidity to 100%. The solutions indicated above have a vapor pressure or respectively 70% and 75%. The sponge should be kept in a perforated container: you can build one using a film canister.

If you don't smoke your cigar immediately, consider storing it short term in a cigar tube.

Recently, I've had the pleasure of acquiring a box of 25 Cohiba Robustos from a colleague of mine who returned from a trip to Cuba. Not being a knowledgeable cigar smoker, it dawned on me that a box of such fine cigars should not be handled clumsily nor tossed to a corner of my closet until I decided to crack them open.

"Yeah, you should probably stick them in a humidor," my colleague suggested. "You do have one, right?"

Hence, my first humidor and the beginning of my crash course on the preparation of it.

Assumptions

Note that I will not be discussing the intricacies of the humidor nor will I be talking about how to choose a proper humidor. I will assume that like myself, you've paid out some good coin to acquire a decent humidor, along with a humidifier (credo) and a hygrometer. No, my focus today is strictly on the preparation of the box.

Materials Needed

Preparing Your Humidor

  1. Take a shallow cap and fill it with distilled water.
  2. Carefully put it in your humidor without spilling any water on the wood interior.
  3. Pour distilled water on your credo until the oasis inside is soaked.
  4. Shake the credo loose of excess water and wipe it down with a cloth.
  5. Insert the credo in the humidor.
  6. Close the humidor and move on to...

Calibrating Your Hygrometer

(The following applies to an analog hygrometer. Digital ones do not necessarily have to go through this calibration but I suggest you do so to be sure of any variance.)

  1. Take 1 shallow cap and pour 1 teaspoon of salt in it.
  2. Apply a few drops of distilled water until you get a damp sea slurry. DO NOT POUR WATER TO THE POINT OF DISSOLVING THE SALT!
  3. Carefully put the cap into the Ziploc bag. Try not to spill any of it inside the bag and make sure that it rests on the bottom of the bag with the slurry facing the opening.
  4. Put the hygrometer in the same bag and do not allow any of the slurry to touch the unit.
  5. Lock the bag, allowing for a bit of airspace.
  6. Wait at least 6 hours.
  7. Once the 6 hours are up, check the hygrometer WITHOUT UNSEALING THE BAG. It should read about 75%. If not, note down the difference. That is your error margin (which may go from 3% - 20%).
  8. Take the hygrometer out and adjust the reading with a screwdriver. Some hygrometers cannot be adjusted (mine can't) so remember the error margin.
  9. Put the hygrometer in your humidor and close the lid.

When Will My Humidor Be Ready?

About 24 hours after you've placed the calibrated hygrometer in the humidor, you can remove the cap of water. Your hygrometer might read somewhere around 80%-85% at this point in time. Close the lid again.

What About the Use of Propylene Glycol?

Some people will use PG to assist in regulating humidity. A 50/50 batch of PG and distilled water is poured into the credo and the PG is supposed to adjust the evaporation rate of the water to reach the optimum 70%-73% range.

Many people swear by it. Given that this was the first humidor that I had ever prepared, I did not have the opportunity to try it but I may do so in the future.

Why Doesn't My Humidor Reach Optimum?

All humidors take a different amount of time to reach the optimum rate. The one I bought recently took about a week before it reached the optimum range. I've been told by others that it can take anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks.

Bottom line: be patient. And check your credo every once in a while.

Can't I Just Soak the Wood Lining Inside the Humidor?

Again, some differing opinions here. Some say that you can take a damp cloth and rub it over the wood lining. Others say you shouldn't (you may warp the wood) and suggest using the aforementioned shallow cap of water to allow for extra humidity in the initial preparation.

As for me, I figure that the warping of wood didn't sound too nice on my fancy box so I did it the slow way with the cap of water.

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