Storing Cigars

Keep in mind that cigars are a natural product. They are delicate not only in construction but they are also sensitive to their environment. In order to stay fresh and deliver to the smoker all the tobacco enjoyment intended each cigar must be carefully stored in a controlled setting of temperature and moisture. The place most commonly used to store cigars is a “Humidor”.

Humidor
 A humidor is simply a storage container designed to maintain the internal humidity and temperature. The temperature should be maintained in a narrow range of about 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is easily achieved if the humidor is located in a room kept at normal room temperature. The most important characteristic of a fine humidor is the ability to provide a consistent environment of 70% humidity.  Humidors come in all sizes. For just a few cigars consider a smaller humidor known as a Travel-humidor. A desk top model will hold from 1 or 4 boxes of cigars. Furniture pieces, such as end tables or wall units will hold up to a thousand cigars and room-sized humidors can hold thousands of boxes of cigars.

Humidor Components
 A humidor should always be measured by the quality of its construction. The better the quality the more likely it will serve you well for years to come. Poor quality humidors save you money at the outset but can quickly show defects such as a warped lid, poor joints or a set of hinges that don’t close properly. Faults like the cause you to lose precious humidity and you’ll quickly be tossing of valuable cigars. A fine humidor will provide constant humidity for its contents over a long period of time.  Look for perfectly squared and fitted seams. You shouldn’t see any glue or signs of construction, and a gap in any joint will provide an exit for moisture, and eventually warping will result. The lid should be solid and balanced with the weight of the rest of the box. A humidor lid should not be airtight, to allow the necessary air circulation. Cedar is considered the best wood for the inside lining of a humidor, because of its ability to hold moisture and add flavor, thus naturally enhancing the aging process. (Over time the various tobaccos in a cigar will “marry” so that the cigar is not composed of just various leaves of tobacco, but of subtle nuances of tobacco taste).  Ideally you want a fairly non-aromatic cedar, such as Spanish cedar. The wood inside a humidor should be natural and unstained.  Other humidor features may include a lift-out tray, which provides the owner with the option of storing cigars at more than one level, and a key lock to keep your precious cigars safe. Handles are often included on larger humidors.  If you are planning to put the humidor on a table or sideboard, a felt bottom will help protect the humidor and the furniture.  The exterior wood can be any kind imaginable, from basic cherry veneer to exotic woods like zebrawood and everything in between.

Hygrometer

analog_hyg_smAn Hygrometer is any device used to measure the internal humidity of the humidor. They come in two styles. Analog hygrometers are a clock faced instrument. The analog models tend to be very inaccurate. A digital model usually is calibrated to an accuracy of + or – 2 %, accuracy like this is worth the few extra dollars spent on this style. Digital read outs are strongly suggested.  A humidor is an elegantly simple device that keeps cigars at their best by maintaining them in conditions similar to those in which their tobacco grew, fermented and was rolled.

Humidification device

 rocky_humi_smYou will need some element to add humidity to your humidor this can be as simple as a wet sponge that slowly evaporates its moisture in your closed box (not recommended) or a sophisticated electrical humidifier with all the digital readouts you need in easy view. Most humidors are set up with a humidifier somewhere in between these two extremes. Check out your local cigar shop and inquire on the different brands and models. As a rule of thumb, sponge style( oasis style) require more frequent recharging (adding water) and the more expensive models such a “Paradigm” will work well for longer periods between refills. As mentioned above electric models such as “Oasis” are almost worry free. Any good tobacconist can walk you through this process so you end up with a unit suitable for your needs.

Humidor Maintenance
Keeping your humidor in good working order is basically re-charging your humidification device as per the manufacturer’s directions. Be sure to use only distilled water to avoid any mineral build up that may occur from use of your local water supply. It goes without saying that keeping the lid shut will keep the humidity in and the dry air out! Room temperature is also a key to good maintenance. Exposing a humidor to temperature extremes such as in direct sunlight or on top of an air conditioner makes temperature maintenance impossible and if its  is bad for the humidor –its bad for your cigars.

The Best kept secret of Cigar storage
Air circulation. Its sounds simple but well circulated air will create even humidity and fully protect all the cigars in your humidor. The heavy humidified air does not move well by its nature so creating movement is beneficial. Space permitting, the easiest way is to purchase cedar inserts that lay between the levels of cigars in your humidor. Air flow will occur naturally between the cedar slats. A more technological solution is a Cigar Oasis device. The best models feature a small fan that blows the air in the humidor around. They even have easy to read digital temperature and humidity readouts.

How you store your cigars is very much a personal choice. From an old cigar box with a small sponge inside to a wall unit with a Cigar Oasis each choice begins with the smoker. One thing, is certain Left out in a heated or air-conditioned room, a cigar can dry out and die as quickly and become unusable. In a properly maintained humidor cigars can be kept for years.

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