If you are a newcomer and have bought your first humidor, be sure to read this article carefully and perform some preliminary actions to have the best experience with your humidor and cigars.
Why seasoning a humidor is so important
First things first. This saying describes the importance of seasoning before you start to use your humidor. Only after the correct humidification process of your humidor, you can protect and keep your cigars safe. Without seasoning, they will get dry and crumbling, as the wood will absorb the moisture from cigars if the humidor is not humidified enough.
The material, all humidors are made of, is Spanish Cedarwood. The interior of the box is made from this kind of material, as it features wonderful moisture retaining characteristics. Additionally, it has a pleasant woody scent, which goes to your cigars as well. In one word, seasoning means saturating the wood with moisture to be ready to maintain the required level of humidity in the future.
One more important point here is the preservation of flavors. Oil, contained in the tobacco of cigars, gives flavors, which we all enjoy. Without seasoning the humidor the oil will be sucked from the cigar and it will not mature and retain the flavor.
What is needed for seasoning a humidor
There are various methods of seasoning a humidor but let’s pay attention to the simplest ones. I am talking about the process itself and the items required for it. You will have to bother only about a shot glass and distilled water.
Distilled water is critical. If you don’t want to ruin the wood and the cigars inside never look for a compromise and use tap water or anything else. Distilled water is just great, though you can find some special humidification solutions on sale, which are also suitable.
If you are a lucky owner of a freshwater aquarium, then you will not have to look for distilled water elsewhere. If not, you can get some distilled water at the pharmacy at the cost of several dollars for a gallon. In fact, you will only need two shot glasses.
For seasoning your humidor you may need additional items:
- a special hygrometer calibration kit
- a bottle of distilled water – 1 gallon
- special humidification solution, that is 50/50 solution or polyglot solution
- a new kitchen sponge, made of natural materials
- a large bowl, made of glass or stainless steel
- 1 plastic sandwich bag
- some paper towels or clean dish rags
How much time will the seasoning last
Be patient and ready to wait for up to 5 days for the proper humidification results of your cigar humidor. However, a lot depends on the environmental conditions and the size of the box. If you already have a few cigars, don’t worry. They will be fine for several days until you will finish all the preparation work with your humidor.
Guidelines on how to season a humidor
Step 1 Inspection
Have a precise look at the interior of your humidor and pay special attention to smells. If you can feel a slight smell of chemicals or glue, you have to solve this problem first. If you don’t remove the undesirable smell, your cigars can absorb it and you won’t be able to enjoy your preferred flavor.
To get rid of the faint smell of glue or chemicals get a paper towel and make it a little wet. You can wring it out to be sure it’s not flooding. With this slightly wet paper towel wipe the whole interior of the box. Leave the humidor open for one day to let the moisture dry out completely.
If you smell fresh Cedarwood, you are ready to move to the next step.
Step 2 Preparation of accessories
Most high-quality cigar humidors already include a hygrometer and a humidifier. The first step is to find the best place for these two devices and get them ready for proper work. The best location for the humidifier is in the center under the humidor’s lid. Place the hygrometer as far away from the humidifier as possible. Try the top corners or just above the humidifier. Check if it doesn’t touch the sides of the box while closing it.
The next important part of preparation is the calibration of your hygrometer. One of the options is to buy a special hygrometer calibration kit. Also, you can use ionized salt and distilled water for this purpose. The process of calibration is rather simple, but it takes time. Be ready to allocate about 6 hours for that. As you need your hygrometer for seasoning, it’s reasonable to begin with calibration. When it’s done attach it to its place under the lid.
Now, it’s time to work with the humidifier. Pour some distilled water into the humidifier. Polyglycol solution or special humidification solution will do as well.
If you have an old type, the so-called rectangular foam-filled humidifier, put it in the bowl, take the bottle with a solution, shake it a bit, and pour some liquid into the humidifier. Your task is to make it completely saturated, even flowing out. The first time the humidifier must be extremely soaked with a solution. Pour some more distilled water over it for extra saturation. Leave the item for a quarter of an hour to soak up all the liquid.
If you own a more advanced crystal-based humidifier, fill it with distilled water up to the top. No solution is needed, only distilled water is recommended for such a type. Crystal units absorb a bigger volume of water, they are resistant to bacteria and mold and serve longer. They’re more beneficial in comparison with green foam oasis units in terms of practical use and durability.
When the saturation is completed, shake the humidifier, turn it up and down to check, if all the liquid is absorbed. If the device doesn’t drop, put it back in place.
Step 3 Seasoning
When you’re done with the preparation and placing of your hygrometer and humidifier, you can move to the process of seasoning. Take a plastic sandwich bag and cover the bottom of the box with it. Change the water or solution in the bowl for a fresh portion. If there are any dividers or a top tray in your humidor, place them inside, too.
Put the kitchen sponge into the bowl with distilled water or humidification solution. The sponge has to be saturated and heavy enough, but not leaking. Put the sponge onto the plastic bag, which will guarantee no leakage during seasoning. Shut the lid of the box and find some inaccessible place for it.
Be patient to leave the box for 3 days minimum. The liquid from the sponge will evaporate eventually. The Cedarwood walls of the humidor will absorb all the moisture. The golden rule here is the longer, the better. Without worries, you can leave it even for a week for the best seasoning results.
Reading on your hygrometer can show 85 to 90% humidity. That’s nice! Take the sandwich bag and the sponge out of the box. Shut the box and let the level of humility go down to 70%, which is considered relative humidity. Once you reach these figures, your cigars are welcome. After several more days, when the humidity has settled down to 65% plus-minus 2%, give yourself the pleasure of smoking a favorite cigar.
Take one shot glass filled with distilled water and put it inside the box. In case of a larger size, take two shot glasses of distilled water for speeding up the seasoning process. Prepare a hygrometer and put it into your humidor next to the shot glass to monitor the level of humidity.
Remember that the hygrometer must be calibrated in advance. A digital gadget is more preferable as it is easier to calibrate. Your goal is to reach 70° f and 70% humidity. That is the ideal condition for the storage of your cigars. But don’t be afraid, with a shot glass inside your hygrometer will read much more. It’s okay you can’t spoil your humidor this way.
Close the lid and let it work for 3 days. Don’t move or open the box. When the time has passed, open the humidor and take the glass away. Attach the humidifier and with the hygrometer inside close the lid and leave it for another day. If all was done properly, your hygrometer must read about 70% humidity, which means your humidor is ready to serve you.
Step 4 Final check
When you reach the required level of humidity, put your cigars into the humidor. Don’t do it all together. Start with 10 – 20 cigars. This way you allow the humidity inside to adjust. Monitor its level, as it will fluctuate a bit during the following week. When it’s back again between 65-70%, you can insert the next 10-20 cigars.
- To preserve stable storage conditions, fill the humidor by a minimum of 50%.
- The relative humidity is about 68%. If it goes below 63%, it means you have to recharge your humidifier. Just add a little distilled water or humidification solution to return to the desired level.
- Remember that the preferable temperature of the humidor interior is from 65 to 70° f. Never allow 75° or more, as it also influences the humidity and can spoil the content of the box.
- Direct sunlight or lamplight is forbidden, as well as sharp fluctuations in temperature.
- Perform regular checks of the humidifier and hygrometer to ensure proper reading and work. Once a month is enough.
- For green foam oasis humidifiers only distilled water is recommended. If you try the humidification solution once, it’s okay. But the green foam will clog, if you soak it with the solution regularly.
A humidor is a wonderful device especially for those, who really appreciate quality and mature cigars. Following these simple recommendations, you can easily season your new humidor and enjoy the fresh flavors of your favorite cigars.