How long do cigars last without humidor?

Cigars come shrouded in a cloud of pomp, prestige and ceremony. Cutting, lighting and inhaling the cigar are matters of etiquette more than anything else, but all these rituals extend far beyond the crispy tobacco leaves.

Even cigar humidors are subject to some degree of decorum, and these essential cigar accessories have become symbols of status, perhaps just as much as the iconic cigar, itself.

The importance of having a humidor lies mainly in the delicate nature of the tobacco leaf. Cigars are made of organic matter and are therefore prone to deterioration, but if stored appropriately, they are generally better with age, just like wine.

How long do cigars last without humidor?

The natural oils which keep the leaves moist, tender and fragrant, will eventually seep through the leaves or evaporate unless a humidor is used. Not even your finest cigar will escape the dreadful fate of turning into a bitter, dry, dull hulk of tobacco rolls if it hasn't had the pleasure of settling inside a humidor.

Cigars will typically start yielding their best flavors after say 5 years, provided they have been stored adequately. Unless they are stored in a humidor, they can dry, rot or become infested in a matter of days, depending on the type of temperature and sunlight they are exposed to. It's ultimately up to you to decide how long you should store your cigars, but it's always a good idea to buy larger boxes and to take the odd cigarette every few months to sample and test for optimum flavors.

A good cigar should not be moist or dry, but somewhere in between. In other words, the essential oils shouldn't seep away from it, nor should the leaves crackle under pressure. A good rule of thumb is to press the press the cigar gently with your thumb and to check that the leaves regain their shape. A dry cigar will take weeks and considerable effort to revive, and the results are not always satisfactory.

the practical guide on storing cigars without a humidifier

Follow these steps to keep your cigars fresh for a longer time

Regular Check Ups

It is common practice for cigars to be turned every 1-3 months because humidity levels inside a standard cigar humidor tend to peak in proximity to the humidifying system and plummet in the small recesses at the base of the dividers or trays. This is very important with humidors that are filled to the brim. You should be looking out for three important factors: air supply, temperature, and humidity levels.

Air Supply

All cigar humidors should be allowed to air at least once every fortnight unless they have built-in ventilators. Of course, they must also be air-tight to ensure a constant internal humidity level. It's also best to have a humidor with thick walls and seamless joints so that the chambers stay airtight and shielded from sun-rays. With contemporary cigar coolers, though, the thickness of the box walls doesn't really matter, because they are equipped with tempered glass, stainless steel doors, shelves that lie flush with the front edge and specially coated interiors which simply do not allow air to escape through the walls.


The optimum temperature ranges from 64 to 70°F, or 18 - 21°C; lowering the temperature to less than 54°F ( that is 12°C), can seriously impair the natural aging process of the cigar. Cold wine cellars are, therefore, not suitable for extended periods of time. Going any higher than 75°F (24°C), will, on the other hand, lead to tobacco rotting, as well as worm and tobacco beetle infestations. The mold that settles on cigars is usually crusty, blue-green in color, and extremely harmful. Hence, humidors should never be exposed to the sun.


The cigar humidor should maintain an internal humidity percentage somewhere between 65% and 75% RH. The average home or office environment tends to have humidity levels of around 50%, so leaving your cigars on a shelf simply won't do. Nor would it be wise to buy a humidor that is not able to ensure a stable level of humidity at all times. Ideally, you should be looking for a humidor that is guaranteed to keep your cigars fragrant and lush for years on end, like a thermoelectric unit.

Not only is this type of humidor spacious and airtight, but it also comes with digital temperature controls and even LED lights for a more appealing display of your extensive and valuable collection. Of course, you'd have to be able to fork over a bit more space for a thermoelectric cigar humidor than you would for your classic mahogany box, but then again, a traditional wooden cabinet would take up even more room and you'd also have to contend with the increased risk of fire damage.

How long do cigars last without a humidor?

Cigars can stay entirely fresh for up to three days outside of a humidor, after which you will start to notice a negative difference in the taste and the burn of the cigar. Inside of a humidor, a cigar properly maintains the wrapper’s oils and humidity, which allows you to it preserve for years. A humidor is any kind of box or storage room with constant humidity that is used to store cigars. Commonly, humidors are made out of wood, but in reality, they could be made out of any material.Cigars are stored optimally inside of a humidor at 70% humidity. While cigars are maintained with this constant level of humidity, it allows them keep fresh and properly preserves the wrapper’s oils over longs periods of time.

Do cigars have expiry dates?

When stored improperly? Yes and quite quickly too. However when kept sealed at a consistent humidity and temperature, they may actually improve in complexity of flavour over years, like wine. But just like wine not every cigar may be good to age; it needs 60-70% humidity.

Do cigars go bad?

The only way cigars go stale is when they are stored improperly. If a cigar dries out, it will start losing its nicotine content and flavour in about 2 months. Even if you try to re-humidify it, which would take forever, it’s a lost cause. However, if properly stored, a cigar can last decades and still be ready to light and enjoy.How to keep your cigars fresh

Humidifying Devices

What a humidifying device does is that it keeps your cigars fresh. The following products have the unique ability to give off moisture when the environment is too dry and absorb moisture if the environment is too damp.


This is a large piece of Oasis or synthetic clay. This is the same material that is sold in most home and garden centers. The Oasis is housed in either plastic or metal grills that are created to disperse perfect 70-75% humidity throughout the humidor. Depending on size, they keep anywhere from 50-100 cigars fresh.

Sponges or Paper Towels

Put the cigars into a plastic food storage bag or container. For every 25 cigars stored, put a damp sponge or paper towel in the bag or container. Store the bag on a shelf or in a closet. A plastic food storage bag or a Tupperware-type container is a sealed environment that holds humidity.Note: Use distilled, not tap water when filling any humidifying device.

The Humidor

The best way to store cigars is with humidors. The purpose of a humidor is to recreate the mild, humid climate of the Caribbean, where the cigars are made. Every humidor contains some kind of humidifying element. It is important that distilled water be used with this element because tap water causes mold to form and contains minerals that can destroy the effectiveness of some humidifiers. Over a period of time, the moulded device will alter the flavor of the cigars.

Can you age cigars?

This is strictly a matter of personal choice. Cigars are like wines, some people like the simple bright taste of the latest Beaujolais Nouveau, while others favor the deep, rich flavor of a vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a matter of taste. The tobacco in most premium cigars is aged up to two years. Most high-end premium tobacco is often 3 years old and some ultra-special blends use tobacco that’s been aging for more than a decade.

Breaking in your humidor

This is quite easy, just follow these simple steps.

  • Do not rinse the inside of your humidor with water. This is often the wrong advice and it will damage your humidor's cedar lining. If you wish to wipe it down to speed the process, make sure to use a clean cloth that has been dampened with distilled water, not wet.
  • Insert a humidification device. If your humidor comes equipped with humidifier, add Propylene Glycol Activation Solution to your humidifier until well saturated. Dry off the surface of the humidifier and place on a towel for approximately one hour to make sure that no dripping occurs.
  • Fill a plastic cup or dish with water and place it inside the humidor.
  • Check the humidity inside the humidor in 24 hours. Slowly but surely the humidifier will emit moisture into the humidor for slow, proper seasoning.
  • Do not add any cigars to your new humidor until the relative humidity reaches 65% to 70%. This process can take 2 to 15 days depending on your climate and the size of the humidor. If you live in a very dry climate we recommend that you use additional humidification units.
  • Lastly, do not forget to test the calibration of your new hygrometer.

Which Is Better: A Digital or Analog Hygrometer?

These days, cigar smokers are faced with a significant challenge on a regular basis: keeping their humidor at the right humidity level. To achieve this, there are different types of cigar accessories – hygrometers.

Of course, you will have to decide which type of hygrometer is right for your specific needs. There are both digital and analog versions of these devices, and both have their own set of pros and cons. The best way to choose between a digital or analog hygrometer is by learning about both types before choosing one over the other.

First, note that digital hygrometers use modern technology. Analog sensors are used to measure the humidity in the air and this is then read out on a digital gauge. This makes them very easy to read, as well as being very accurate. There are other benefits here, as well. For instance, most digital hygrometers are versatile.

They often have thermometers built in, as well as other features. Some have a memory mode that allows them to record humidity levels and temperatures over time. This can be very helpful for tracking conditions in your humidor. Finally, digital hygrometers can be very affordable, but high-end models can be quite expensive.

  • Digital hygrometers work very differently. These are electronic devices and they are usually not as elegant as their analog brethren are. In addition, you won’t find any antiques in this variety. Digital hygrometers usually also have other uses, such as measuring temperature and other environmental factors in addition to the humidity level. There are some pros to using these kinds of tools, though. For instance, they are very, very accurate, and they are often more affordable than quality analog versions. In addition, they never need to be calibrated, as they are calibrated and set at the factory.
  • Analog hygrometers do need an occasional tune-up. These delicate instruments can be thrown off in terms of accuracy relatively easily. They will also lose some of their accuracies over time. Tune-ups can keep your analog device working properly, but that will require an additional charge from a specialist unless you choose to do the work yourself.

Deciding whether you want a digital or analog hygrometer can be difficult. It will hinge though on how much you want to spend, or whether or not you care about having an analog device tuned up and the look that you are trying to achieve. Either digital or analog hygrometers work quite well, but you will certainly find that you have a personal preference for one type over the other.

Do cigars last in a tube?

This depends on how well the tube is sealed and if it’s humidified correctly. If it’s humidified correctly, hermetically sealed, and the tobacco is high quality it will last for several years.

Top quality humidors

It's no wonder that more guys are picking up a desktop humidor to keep their smokes within arm's reach. Check out these five best units on the market for guys who want to take care of the scigars without letting them out of their sight.- Davidoff Desktop Macassar- Adorini Black Slate Deluxe- Ashton Savoy Series- Zino Acrylic- Diamond Crown Washington

Makeshift humidifier Buying a humidifier is not always the best choice, especially if you can create one yourself at little or no cost. There are alternatives, ways to create your own, natural air humidifiers that are cheaper, simple to use and very often as effective as the machine you contemplated investing in.You might want to consider some of these alternatives:- A glass of water on the heaterIf you have a flat top heater in your home, wide enough to place a glass of water on it, this is the most simple, very effective and easy way to humidify your home. Glass is fairly resistant to heat, and it won’t break on your heater (unless it’s heated to the extremes, which is rarely the case, considering it’s so close to people, pets and furniture that can easily catch fire). All you have to do is put a glass of water on top of your heater and let the water evaporate.Note: Start with only one glass, and if you notice little difference, add another one.

The sponge humidifier

If you dislike the idea of placing anything on your heater, or simply don’t have a flat top heater, there are other methods of humidifying your home. One of the more popular methods is the sponge humidifier.All you will need is a large car-washing sponge, a plastic freezer bag, and some scissors.

First, use the scissors to punch a few holes in the bag. After that, soak the sponge in warm water, and then squeeze it to remove any excess water from it. Make sure the sponge is wet, but not dripping. After that, place the sponge in the punctured bag, and place it wherever you want, in the room that needs humidifying.Re-soak the sponge once a day. You can also put the sponge in a microwave for 45 seconds, in order to kill any bacteria that might be forming inside.

Get houseplants

One interesting, yet simple and effective way to humidify your home is to get some house plants. Plants can moisturize your home through a process called transpiration. That is, as Wikipedia puts it, the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts, such as from leaves, but also from stems and flowers. What that basically means is that, the water you use to water the plants will eventually return to the air through the leaves of the plant, naturally and healthy.

A bowl of searing hot water

If you’re looking for a quick fix for your living room, a bowl of searing hot water can be not just a quick, natural but also effective way to humidify your room. Place a bowl of water on the stove, and wait for it to start boiling. After that, seal the bowl, wait for a few minutes for the steam to gather, then take the bowl to the room that needs humidifying and open it. A lot of steam will instantly rise up into the air, humidifying your room in an instant.

Fish tank

If you are, like me, the kind of person that likes mixing business with pleasure, getting an open fish tank might just be the method for you. Not only will the open fish tank increase humidity in your room, it will also create a cool atmosphere by simply having fish in your room! And if you combine it with a few houseplants, you’re getting a natural, simple and effective way to both show off some character, and humidify your home.

Do enjoy your cigar the way you like it!

About the author

Mike Baxter

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