Setting Up a Humidor
I just purchased a new humidor… now what?
Setting up a brand new humidor can be daunting for the beginner cigar lover. There are many steps that go into not only setting your humidor up. What’s great about your brand new humidor is that the process of setting it up can be quite simple once you know what you need to do!
To begin, we need to be sure that the humidor’s moisture and temperature are created inside prior to storing our cigars. Follow these simple steps:
- To speed up the process of setting your humidor up, you are able to use a clean cloth that has been dampened with distilled water to lightly wipe down the interior of the humidor. What you do not want to do is rinse the inside of the humidor or create a very wet environment. If this is done, it can damage your humidor’s cedar lining and ruin the ability to keep a proper humidity inside for your cigars.
- Insert your humidification device. If for some reason your humidor did not come with a humidifier, the best recommendation is to purchase a Gel Humidifier that is easy to refill and lasts a long time. Wet your foam or gel humidifier with the Propylene Glycol Activation Solution so that it is well saturated. Dry off the outer surface of the humidifier and leave on a towel outside the humidor for one hour to ensure that it is not dripping.
NOTE: Do Not use distilled water to charge your humidifier! Doing this will cause your humidor to humidify too quickly or over-humidify it and ruin it.
- Fill a plastic cup or dish with water and place it inside the humidor.
- Check the humidity inside the humidor in 24 hours. The humidifier will emit moisture into
the humidor for a slow, proper seasoning.
- Humidity reaching its 65% to 70% can take anywhere from 2-15 days. You should be
checking every 2-3 days to see if it’s reached this humidity. Depending on the climate
and size of the humidor, you can begin adding cigars. If you live in a drier climate, you
may be required to use additional humidification units.
6 Do not forget to test the calibration of your hygrometer!
But wait a minute- not you’re telling me to test the calibration of my hygrometer?
That is correct! Most analog hygrometers are created with a tolerance of +/- 5% of humidity, and digital hygrometers with a tolerance of +/- 2% of humidity, which means that if you do not test the calibration, you could be setting up your humidor to read 75% humidity and not knowing what you’re doing wrong when it doesn’t read correctly! Though the gauges are set up by the manufacturer at the factory, it’s not unusual to find that the calibration is off once you get your humidor. The following easy-to-do method can be done at home with a few items you should already have laying around! So whether you have an analog or digital hygrometer, calibrate your hygrometer with the following steps:
- Place a teaspoon of salt into a bottle cap and add a few drops of distilled water to moisten it. When water is added to table salt, it maintains exactly 75% humidity in a sealed environment. NOTE: You do not want to dissolve the salt, so make sure not to overdo it.
- Carefully place the bottle cap with salt and your hygrometer into an airtight container, such as a Tupperware or Ziploc bag. Do your best not to get any moistened salt on the gauge. Double check your hygrometer to make sure it is reading in the 40-80% range.
- Seal the container tightly but don’t try to remove any of the air inside. Wait several hours (around 6 hours) until the environment inside has stabilized. Do not open the container. Read the gauge’s humidity % level, which should read exactly 75%. If it is not, the deviation is the amount that your hygrometer is out of calibration. For example, if it reads 65%, the gauge is 10% low. For a digital hygrometer, this is your final step- through the bag, push and hold the green button until the hygrometer resets itself to 75%.
- Carefully remove the unit from the container/bag. If your analog hygrometer did not read correctly, you will find that most gauges have a calibrating screw on the back. Take a small flathead screwdriver and turn it slowly while watching the dial on the front. If, as in the example above, your gauge was 10% low, you would turn the screwdriver so that the dial is set 10% higher than it was previously.
Your hygrometer should now be properly calibrated, as well as your humidor set up! It is very important to note that you should check and recalibrate your hygrometer every 6 months to ensure that it is still reading correctly. If not, there is a chance that your cigars may become too moist or dry out over time.
You are now ready to store cigars and begin your collection! As you place cigars in the humidor, make sure that you do not block the humidifier’s vents, as that too can cause variation in the humidity inside the humidor.