How Does a Cigar Humidor Work?

To understand how a cigar humidor works, the first important part would be to know what a humidor is and what it does. A humidor is basically any kind of box or room with constant humidity. This box or room can store cigars, cigarettes, or pipe tobacco. The part people usually know is that the humidor is used for storing cigars and nothing more. Now, why would you need a humidor to store Cigars most especially?

Most of the cigars made in the world come from tropical or even sub-tropical regions. In these regions, a common feature is a high heat in the environment. Also, the humidity in these areas is quite strong.

How Does a Cigar Humidor Work?

So, since the cigars are made from natural things in these areas, they tend to want to last longer in such environments. Cigars are hygroscopic so they can easily dry out if they are left in a place that would easily allow them to dry out. But, you even have to make sure the environment is not an entirely moist one. If not, the tendency is there for the cigar to become too damp and then become quite difficult to smoke.

How does a humidor work really?

cigar aficionado accessories

The next piece usually, is to really understand how the humidor works. Because for a box or for a closed environment to be able to store cigars properly, there is the need to have an ideal environment that will help encourage and keep the freshness steady for the cigars. Now, our aim is to look at the conducive and ideal environment and understand their role in ensuring that the cigars stay fresh and awesome all-day long.

Understand quite well that the humidor might differ in shape and size and every other aspect. However, their core basics are usually the same all around or the have the same features or achieve the same purpose. The end aim of our cigar is for them to keep up with being fresh and still have the awesome taste that you love.

And we have mentioned above that maintaining the level of humidity needed to keep your cigar great involves two awesome features. These features are majorly the Spanish cedar that makes up the major component of the box and the humidifier kept inside. So, let us take a look at some of the features of the humidor and what qualities stand out some from others.

What Is the Perfect Environment for Cigars?

the Perfect Environment for Cigars

Because of the fact that cigars are highly hygroscopic – they have an increased ability to absorb moisture out of the air or dry out in conditions with decreased humidity – they need to be kept safe in perfect conditions. So, the key to preserving your cigars is to provide them with an appropriate environment.

Therefore, the humidity levels inside of a humidor need to be between sixty-eight and seventy-two percent. Depending on the source, these numbers can vary, but it’s probably safe to round the number up to seventy.

Which Materials You Should Be Looking for?

Humidity isn’t the only important factor. It’s vital for the preservation of your cigars that the level of moisture in their environment stays the same. Interestingly enough, one type of wood can provide those conditions. The ideal humidor would consist of:

  • Stainless steel and

  • Spanish cedar

Spanish cedar is a special kind of wood with a powerful ability to hold moisture. Because of that reason, many renewed businesses that manufacture humidors use this Spanish cedar. Thanks to the controlled environment inside of the humidor, this wood will preserve your cigars and provide them with a healthy level of air humidity.

However, Spanish cedar is used as lining in humidors. For this cigar microenvironment enabled by cedar to be kept undisturbed, it has to be encased in a strong, resilient material like stainless steel. Other materials will do the trick as well, but stainless steel would be ideal for the job.

What they are made up of

These are the features the humidors would have that are common to most of them all. They are usually made up of stainless steel or wood. These is for the outer coverings. The Spanish cedars below are for the insides. They usually also have a very tight lid and seal that stops air from entering the humidor. Keeping the lid shut is part of what helps the humidor keep the humidity that helps make the cigars fresh.

Spanish Cedar

Most of the humidors are made with a lining of Spanish cedar. And there is a preference for this wood type being chosen over other types of wood. The Spanish cedar has the inherent ability to properly absorb moisture. It also has the ability to equally release humidity in a way that will heal create an evenness in all cedar boxes.

The ability of the humidor to absorb moisture properly has to do with seasoning the humidor properly. Not seasoning the humidor properly would lead to a humidor that will pull moisture from even the cigar it is supposed to moisture. So, the solution would be to season the humidor properly before you start moistening the cedar.


The humidifier in the humidor is what makes the and keeps the moisture properly. It also helps to keep the moisture and humidity well-modulated. Now, once the humidor has been properly seasoned, the humidifier would help to keep providing moisture for the humidor and for the cigars.

what is a cigar Humidifier

When it provides the moisture, it would help the cigar to stay at the right temperature and keep it within the right taste and freshness level. Humidifiers in the open trade market are of many different types. There are ranges from the foam based blocks that would absorb distilled water well and complex pouches to even gel based humidifiers.

You are free to choose either of these options for your humidor and enjoy it but the important part for you the owner would be to always check and know when you are supposed to recharge them with more water.

Recharging them with water is for those who use water. For those that use gel, getting the proper moisturizing agent should be the next course of action. And regardless of how often they get recharged, the humidifiers would at some point stop functioning properly which makes it the next thing you should get to replace.


what is a cigar Hygrometer

Another component that should be mentioned here, is the hygrometer. This hygrometer measures properly the relative humidity inside the humidor of your choice. As such, it is a key component of the humidor. The ideal temperature range you should be aiming for in your humidor is a relative score of 70%.

This is why you would need the hygrometer to help you ensure that if there is any shift from what should be obtained in the humidor, you would know just by looking at the hygrometer. Once you notice any shift, you can decide to adjust the humidor properly to ensure you get the right humidity level you want to attain.

Powerful Seal​

Neither of devices we just mentioned won’t be able to serve their purpose if the microenvironment inside the humidor is subjected to outer factors. Therefore, the final piece that’s quite a necessary component of high quality humidors is a powerful seal.

As we said just now, the humidifier is responsible for maintaining the desired levels of air moisture while the hygrometer is there to provide you with information. But, without a seal that can close the lid and protect the humidor from unwanted air supply, all of that will go to waist.

Best temperature for a Cigar humidor

In storing your cigar in the humidor properly, there usually are complications or problems arising from different sources. Regardless of the issue, there are a few parts you should note. One of them is the right temperature that your cigar should have in the humidor.

You will encounter some issues with the cigars if they are not properly done. Some of the likely issues are uneven or rapid burns, harsh and bitter taste, broken wrapper etc. So, how does the right temperature or not having the right temperature cause all the above? Rather, how can you avoid all those possible scenarios?

By simply ensuring that you keep your cigars at the maximum temperature of 23 degrees Celsius and ensure that the humidity level is about 68-74%. But the best and ideal condition is to have the humidor at the temperature range of 21 degrees Celsius and a humid level of 70%. In these conditions, your cigar would be able to last properly and keep the taste you’ve always wanted.

How can you ensure the cigar stays in this optimal temperature and humidity range? By ensuring that the humidity level is checked every so often. Maybe like once every two weeks. Also, adding distilled water will be necessary every once a month.

Now, if the humidor does not use water, getting the gel and changing it once a month is quite essential. Also, store your humidor in a cool and dry place so that you can easily prevent bad mold growth. Also make sure you do not place it directly in a place where it will get sunlight. If the weather or atmosphere becomes too hot for the cigar, the likelihood of worms laying eggs become more and more feasible.

Getting an imperfect humidor

Have you come across the term imperfect humidor and you’re wondering what is wrong with a humidor for it to be termed as imperfect. Let us break the jinx. The term is basically a term that is used for humidors that are not necessarily spoilt but are maybe missing out one part or the other.

Sometimes, the issue with the humidor might just be a minor dent or a minor scratch that might or might not be visible to the naked eye. The imperfection might even be just a little nick that might not matter. However, since something is not complete about the humidor, it gets classified with the tag “imperfect humidor”.

These issues with the humidor might be caused during transit of the humidor to the final destination or be missing some pieces of it. Now, the thing about the imperfect humidor is that due to the high caliber of people who take cigars, the tendency is to ensure that if the humidor dents or spoils in transit, it is usually returned to the company for a replacement to be sent out.

Sometimes, even the dent will be unnoticeable but because of the perfection expected in the industry, the best option would be to replace it. What then happens to the humidor that has been returned? Instead of throwing away the dented or imperfect humidor, the companies then decide to sell them indirectly through another medium.

Those who will buy it from the companies would be quick to mention it that regardless of what dents the humidor might have, it would not affect how well it functions. This is because if the overall function of the humidor is defeated, there would really be no reason to still sell it out.

The expressly great thing about imperfect humidors is that people patronize them because they come in handy and are quite affordable. Since they are not sold as new, their pricing is way lower than what the perfect condition humidors go for. But, the price difference you can get from the imperfect humidor has to do with the degree of dent or spoilage that has occurred to the humidor.

How long can a cigar last?

premium cigar humidor with cigar cutter

Looking at how important it is to have a great humidor to go with the optimal quality cigar you want, the question that would arise now would have to do with how long your cigar would last and retain its fresh scent. Now, a properly humidified and handmade cigar will ultimately remain in great condition indefinitely.

So, after ensuring that the cigar is top notch quality, the next part would be to check and pick up a well and professionally made humidor. Also, keep to the degrees mentioned for optimal temperatures for the cigar in the humidor.

Once the humidity and the temperature level are optimal, chances increase for the cigar to last quite long. But when there is a constant fluctuation in humid level, there tends to be a break and cracks in the cigar. Some other types of cigar would not even require much time and effort to keep.

They are usually “baked” so they do not necessarily instantly need storage ion a humidor. But, on a general scale, these cigars usually would be very fresh for about one month to twelve months. But this is conditional. And the condition is if they are not subjected to extreme humidity levels.

How to Set Up Your New Humidor?

With the information you’ve read so far, you’ll be able to differentiate a quality humidor from those that don’t meet the proper standards. However, now you need to know how to set it up properly; if you don’t act according to the right instructions, you might cause damage to devices within your humidor and your cigars as well.

  • Do not wash it.

This is the most common mistake – a humidor shouldn’t be soaked in water nor rinsed, contrary to common belief. If someone gave you this piece of advice, you should let them know that this isn’t suitable treatment for Spanish cedar – water will most definitely damage your cedar lining.

  • Charge your humidifier.

As we mentioned, there are two kinds of humidifiers and, when it comes to this part, you need to consult a manual issued by your manufacturer. If for any reason you don’t feel certain about the instructions regarding the process of charging your humidifier, you should get in touch with a call center and ask for guidance.

Whatever the case, you need to make sure that your humidifier isn’t leaking. In order to realize that, you should leave it on a dry dishcloth or a towel for one hour after charging. If there are any leaks, you’ll be able to see the spots on the surface beneath it, or you can check the level of liquid and see if it decreased in the meantime.

  • Insert a dish containing water.

The next thing you should do is to find a container or a cup that can fit into your humidor and fill it with water. After you placed the dish inside the humidor, close the lid and leave it for twenty-four hours. This will give enough time to the humidifier to regulate the conditions and create an appropriate environment.

  • Check the humidity.

This process can take up to two weeks approximately. You shouldn’t insert your cigars into the humidor until it reaches the desired level of humidity – which is, as mentioned above, between sixty-eight and seventy-two percent.

The time necessary for the humidifier to create the perfect microenvironment depends on your climate conditions. So, give it enough time to work its magic and don’t try to rush the process. However, if you live in an especially dry climate, you can use additional devices for regulating air moisture.

How can you identify a quality cigar?

Depending on how much experience you have with cigars, there are some key things you would use to detect if a cigar is of good or great quality and if it will be worth your smoking time. First would be to look at how fresh the cigar is. It is usually better not to smoke a cigar that has stayed over 24 hours outside a humidor. By that time, there is a high likelihood that it would have lost its taste and freshness which is one of the essence of the cigar as a whole.

Another thing to look out for is the part where you check properly to see that the cigar has been filled in proper measurements with tobacco. You would not want it over filled either would you want it under filled. Each one you choose has its negatives which we would not discuss here.

The quality of the cigar also lingers a bit on the length of the cigar. Even though this part is purely subjective, but the length still adds some smoke properties to the cigar. Somehow, it will be easy to differentiate between a cigar that is long and one that is quite short and stubby.

However, you have it all. Now you have an understanding of how the humidor works. Go get yours now and exhale with immense pleasure.

Short Summary

And finally, after two weeks, your new humidor will be set up and its environment will be perfect for preserving the original favor of your favorite cigar brand. In case you forget something, here’s a short summary.

  • You should get a humidor made out of durable materials like stainless steel which is highly resilient to outside factors.

  • The lining of your humidor should be fashioned out of Spanish cedar – this type of wood is highly absorbent which makes it perfect for this purpose.

  • In order to be sure that you have a quality humidor in front of you, make sure it’s equipped with a humidifier, hygrometer, and a powerful seal.

  • Before you insert cigars into the humidor, make sure to set it up according to every detail included in instructions issued by your manufacturer.

  • Don’t forget to change the fluid inside the humidifier in regular time intervals – which is another piece of information you’ll be able to find in your user manual.

With this information on your hands, you’ll be able to create the perfect conditions for your cigars. Just one last thing – you don’t need to wait for a special occasion to enjoy them; enjoying them is a special occasion by itself.

About the author

Mike Baxter

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