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How to set up a humidor for cigars

Setting up your new humidor

When many people receive a new humidor they are anxious to fill it up with their cigar collection straight away. However, if you do this without first re-humidifying the wood that lines the humidor, you will ruin your cigars.

It is very important you take the time to set up your humidor properly. Why? The wood that lines a humidor is kiln dried Spanish Cedar and has not had a chance to reach its equilibrium of 65% - 72% humidity. If it is filled with cigars before it is properly set up, it will literally suck the moisture out of the cigars, which could ruin them and is the opposite of what you want from your humidor.

All humidors must be re-humidified before their first use. Follow these easy steps:

1. The inner walls of the humidor must be given sufficient humidity.

Place a shot glass filled with distilled water or propylene glycol solution (also known as humidification solution) in the bottom of the humidor, close the lid and leave it there for at least three days. If the glass of distilled water is heated in the microwave, the humidity will be absorbed quicker and the humidor will be operational sooner.

Note: Never wipe the interior or your humidor with water, or pour in water, and be careful not to knock over the shot glass. This will ruin the wood.

2. Charge your humidifier and place inside the humidor.

Either put the humidifier on a plate and moisten it with the propylene glycol solution (for sponge-based humidifier) or distilled water, or for a round sponge filled humidifier you can moisten it through the grill (without removing it from the humidor). As soon as it has absorbed sufficient liquid, remove liquid that was not absorbed, dry the humidifier with a cloth and place it in the humidor. Do not overfill the humidifier. It should be wet, not soaking.

3. Place your calibrated hygrometer inside the humidor.

There are two methods of calibrating an analogue hygrometer:

a) Place the hygrometer together with a salt solution in a small plastic box. Take a cup or spoon filled with salt and moisten it with a few drops of water. The salt should not dissolve, but merely be damp. Place the hygrometer and the salt in a well-sealed plastic box and wait for about 8 hours. The humidity within the box should have reached a humidity of 75%. Adjust the needle of the hygrometer with a screwdriver at the rear to indicate 75% humidity.

b) Alternatively, remove the hygrometer from the humidor, wrap it in a thoroughly moistened cloth, wait about one hour and then adjust the hygrometer on the rear with a screwdriver to 96% .

4. Close the lid, then check the humidity reading on the hygrometer daily. When it reaches the 65% - 72% range, the wood has been properly stabilised.

5. Note: What if the humidor is bleeding sap / resin?

This is not unusual. The special oils of Spanish cedar wood can lead to the formation of resin on the wood surface. The resin is sticky. It does not impair the quality of the cigars, but it may damage a cigar if it comes into direct contact with the resin. It can be removed with acetone before you set up the humidor. After the use of cleaning agents the humidor should be thoroughly ventilated before following the steps above and cigars are placed into the humidor.

After Setting up your humidor

The humidity in any home varies by location and time of year. Be particularly aware that the humidity of your home will change when the heating system is used regularly from late Autumn.

A temperature of 64-70°F (18-21°C) is considered ideal for a humidor. At temperatures below 54°F (12°C) the desired aging process of the cigars is impaired. Temperatures of over 75°F (24°C) can lead to worm infestation and cigar rotting. A humidor should never be exposed to direct sunlight.

A humidor should be aerated at least once every two weeks to regularly supply it with fresh air.

Uneven humidity levels within a humidor are common, especially if the humidors is filled close to maximum capacity. The humidity level will be higher in proximity to the humidification system, therefore, cigars that are stored for long periods of time should be rotated every 1 - 3 months.

Some people add a few drops of whisky or brandy to the humidifier liquid to 'refine' the flavour of the cigars. Beware: This will influence the flavour of the cigars in humidor for a long time!