IT'S ABOUT THE CIGAR, THE PUFF... IT'S ABOUT THE CULTURE!
It's a very important Cigar item that you need to have, if not the main one. It needs a lot of attention & will give you in return what you invest on. If well maintained, it will preserve the quality of your precious Cigars and will let you enjoy your puff. In brief, it is the main element that keeps your Cigar fresh.
Before you decide if you should buy a Humidor or not, you need to ask yourself these 2 questions:
If yes, you definitely need to buy a humidor. But what humidor should you buy??
We will talk below about four parts:
II. Humidor Accessories,
III. Seasoning a Humidor when you buy it,
IV. Checking the Hygrometer's Calibration.
In general, Humidors are distributed among 4 categories:
1. Room/Walk-in humidors
A Room or Walk-in humidor can be found in Cigar Shops and lounges, where a room is really sealed and prepared to maintain the same temperature and humidity. Cigars are kept inside, and a buyer can visit to chose the Cigar he/she wants to puff. In some cases, individuals might decide to have a Walk-in Humidor in their house especially when they would like to Store and mature big quantities and for a long period.
2. Cabinet & Table humidors (Furniture)
A Cabinet and Table humidors (can be called Furniture Humidor) are humidors that come in a shape of a furniture. We usually consider them with the same color and shape of our furniture as they are used not only as a humidor, but for other purposes as well, depending on the design: Cabinet, Side table, Chess table...
3. Personal humidors
Personal humidors are mainly the most available style in all houses. It is useful to store a variety of Cigar types and numbers, depending on each one's consumption. Some are small humidors with a capacity up to 10 Cigars, some are medium with a range of 25 to 75 Cigars, and some are big humidors that can fit a 100+. Personal humidors can vary in sizes, shapes, and colors; and some have glass that mix with wood.
4. Travel humidors
Travel humidors can be used by any person who is going away of her/his main humidor for a short period of time (mainly), and will require to take some sticks with her/him. Instead of putting the Cigars randomly where they can be damaged or require some proper humidification, Cigars are kept in a Travel Humidor that can do the job of a Personal Humidor for few days.
It is important to mention that Cigar Aficionados created a lot of other Cigar Humidors based on their needs. The important point is to have a real sealed box that can maintain the same humidity between 68% and 72%, and a temperature about 65 to 70°F i.e. 18.3 to 21°C. To name few examples that I found online and/or at some friends, some transformed their coolers to humidors (thus called it: "Coolidor"), others used the regular sealed boxes that we use in the kitchen. I even saw some humidors that were made from the military bullets sealed box.
Cigar Etiquette Pro - Humidor
When we talk about humidor accessories, we are talking about the elements that will help the humidor by itself to do its job: keeping your cigars fresh. So our main accessories are:
A Humidifier is any of the many different shapes and styles of a sponge inside a plastic designed container. Every user will add distilled water in the humidifier in order to regulate the humidity inside the humidor. In general, humidifiers are sold with the humidor as part of it. However, you can always buy it separately as you can see in many stores around you.
Keep in mind that once you have a big humidor as a cabinet or walk in humidor, you can add humidifying fans that will make sure to spread the required humidity all over your humidor.
2. Hygrometer and thermometer
A Hygrometer is that beautiful item that measures the performance of your Humidor. It shows the level of humidity, and in some cases it indicates the temperature as well (especially with digital hygrometers). Hygrometers come in different shapes and styles, and are mainly either digital or analog:
Analog Hygrometer: it is the old style hygrometer that keeps a feeling of antique and elegance to your humidor. However, in most of the cases it reads only the humidity and does not have a thermometer, as the temperature is also important in your humidor after the humidity level.
Digital Hygrometer: This is mainly a more accurate hygrometer (though some will say that both have the same accuracy if they are well maintained). A good point about the digital hygrometer is that it can give you the temperature as well; however, you need to be ready to change the battery at a certain point.
Whether you go for an Analog or Digital, you need to be aware that Hygrometers should be calibrated if they are not pre-calibrated when purchased. Please check part "IV. Checking the Hygrometer's calibration"for instructions. (Youtube Video Available)
3. Separators (or what some might call "dividers")
Separators are important items inside your humidor, which are mainly made from wood and preferably from Spanish Cedar. However, some dividers are made from Mahogany wood and are sold at a very challenging price.
Separators have different shapes and styles and are mainly used as their name, to separate a big space into small rooms where you can categorize your Cigars as per your preferences. Example: Cigars that are purchased during the range of 0 to 60 days, 61 to 180 days... or by brand, by size...etc.
In general, all humidors come with a separator. Big humidors are even equipped with trays to help categorize your stogies.
In case you would like to get more dividers, you can get some from the Cigar boxes that you purchase, or buying as much as you want at reasonable prices. I've seen some cabinet humidors where users have simply used the Cigar box by itself as a tray inside their cabinet.
Cigar Etiquette Pro
In order to make your humidor ready to store and maintain your precious Cigars, it needs to pass through the process of Seasoning, which is preparing the humidor's wood. For that reason, you need the following tools:
Once you have all the items with you, you start by adding some distilled water to the humidifier and put it to rest until we're done with the below steps.
After you make sure that your humidor is totally empty, you take a clean dry kitchen rag and you make sure to wipe the humidor from the inside totally without applying any type of water. Once you wipe it all including the wooden separator (explained in point II.3 above) that comes with most of the humidors, you swamp the sponge with distilled water and wipe again the humidor and the wooden separators. Make sure that you are applying it to every corner of the humidor's wood: you need to wipe it and not to over apply water.
Now that you're done, you put some water again on the sponge and place it over the plastic bag inside the humidor, so that no excess water can run inside your humidor and ruin the wood. Then you bring back the humidifier which was at rest, put it in its correct place inside the humidor, and leave them to rest for 24 hours.
After that time, you need to make sure that the sponge is not totally dried. If this is the case, you swamp it again with water, check the humidifier if it needs water as well and repeat the same process for another 24 hours.
Once all is done, you're ready to start using it. Remember: Anytime we talk about water we mean: Distilled Water.
Cigar Etiquette Pro - Seasoning A Humidor
To check if the Hygrometer is reading correctly, we use the Traditional "Salt Method". Nowadays, you can find some ready-made zipping bags called "Calibration bags" that control a specific level of humidity within. You simply put the Hygrometer subject to test inside the bag, keep it aside for some time as written on the instruction manual as it differs from a bag to another, and then read the respective humidity level that should match the one recorded on the manual.
If it comes to me, I prefer the traditional way, especially that Cigar Culture is considered a "run away" to my own free time to follow and enjoy my hobby, and relax from the daily work and stress load.
For this method you need the following tools: (Video above)
Now if your Hygrometer is reading differently, spot the difference to make proper judgement once you deposit it inside the humidor. For example: if the Hygrometer is reading 73, then you logically multiply any future reading you will get by 75 and divide it by 73, to get the actual real reading.
If the Hygrometer is an analog one, you can simply flip it to the bag and adjust the small difference with the use of a small tiny screwdriver.
Now Remember that a perfect humidity in a humidor should be between 68 to 72 %. So enjoy storing your cigars and don't forget to test your hygrometer at least once every year.
Cigar Etiquette Pro - Hygrometer Sample