After You Purchase a Humidor...
by David "Doc" Diaz
Revised Thursday, November 24, 2011
Ready to season a Vanderburgh travel humidor
[Note: words in BLUE TEXT are terms that can be found in our Cigar Glossary.]
After you bring your desktop or cabinet home, you need to CONDITION or, "SEASON" the box. You shouldn’t pack a new humidor full of cigars on the first day. Until the humidor is seasoned, the Spanish cedar will suck moisture out of the ambient air in the humidor, or worse, from your cigars. The internal humidity will also be pretty unstable until seasoning is complete. Basically, the purpose of seasoning is to condition the Spanish cedar so that it reaches a moisture equilibrium. Obviously, seasoning only applies to those humidors that are lined with Spanish cedar or other porous wood. Glass-, acrylic- or metal-lined humidors do not need seasoning.
Seasoning Your Humidor
First, fill the humidifier as directed. You will use the humidifier to help add moisture to the humidor during the seasoning process. However, since the Spanish cedar will "drink" a lot of water in the early going, you may need an extra 1 or 2 water sources, depending on the size of the humidor. I use a small glass or saucer filled with distilled water for this purpose.
Typically you will use a WETTING SOLUTION to charge your PASSIVE HUMIDIFIER or, in an ELECTRONIC HUMIDIFICATION system (used in cabinet humidors), you will use distilled water only. Pour the water or wetting solution into the humidification cassette or container. When you think that the humidifier has absorbed as much fluid as it can take, wipe it with a clean cloth, then fit it into the humidor. Do not oversaturate a passive humidifier. When in doubt, use less moisture. Be sure to read and follow the instructions for each type of humidification medium.
Leave the humidifier in your humidor so that the Spanish cedar of the inner box will absorb water. In larger cabinets, you may want to add an additional water source to insure a complete seasoning; one or two auxiliary dishes of water will suffice.
Some experts recommend taking a clean cloth, dampening it with distilled water and wiping all the internal surfaces of the humidor. This gets rid of any sawdust that may remain in the grain of the Spanish cedar and at the same time acclimates the wood to conditions of higher humidity. Other humidor makers eschew this practice, saying that the liner has already been wiped clean and that adding fluid might lead to warping and/or will raise the grain of the liner, making it rough and perhaps leading to damaged cigars. You would be wise to follow whatever directions that come with your new humidor. However, I have always used a damp cloth to lightly wipe the Spanish cedar interior during the seasoning process. I have never had a problem with this practice, but I have always purchased high quality humidors. If possible, talk with the vendor, whether it's your local tobacconist, shopkeeper, or the manufacturer of the humidor.
Note: the absorbency of the humidor inner box is much greater at first. It’s better not to hurry the seasoning process, but wait until the wood of the liner has fully absorbed enough water to reach an equilibrium. You should allow your humidor to season for 3-5 days or as long as it takes for the RELATIVE HUMIDITY to reach an equilibrium state. That means keeping an eye on your hygrometer and noting when the relative humidity reaches a desired level and is stable. Once your hygrometer shows that the humidor is staying at constant humidity between 65%-72%RH, you can start adding cigars. I would add cigars slowly and see what happens to the humidity levels as you introduce your smokes. Don't rush the seasoning process. It is something that you should only have to do once, if you do it right.
Another fool-proof method for seasoning your desktop box is the Bóveda One-Step Seasoning kit (read review). This method uses a hi-tech humidity packet(s) that you place in your new humidor for 10 days. Though this method takes longer, it is a simple, clean method for insuring proper seasoning.
For additional information on seasoning, listen to Stogie Fresh 5 podcast episode #9 on "How to Season a Humidor".
Maintaining Your Humidor
Charging or Recharging a Passive Humidifier. After seasoning your humidor, there is still some work to do to keep your cigars tasting fresh. Your humidifier will need to be regularly recharged. This involves monitoring the humidity inside your humidor and then adding more distilled water or wetting solution when your humidity drops below the desired range. If your humidor is doing a good job and the ambient temperatures and humidity is not too extreme, recharging will probably need to take place once per month.
Most desktop and travel humidors have a PASSIVE HUMIDIFIER. These can be filled with various kinds of humidification elements, with the most common being, green florist foam. Superabsorbent polymers and silica gel are also used.
Recommended Humidor Maintenance Equipment
Beaker for water • Clean rag • Distilled water • Plastic container for holding humidifier when filling
Plastic syringe (if needed) • Small funnel (may be needed for certain types of humidifiers)
Spray bottle for water (if needed) • Wetting solution (PG-distilled water mixture)
When filling your humidifier, pour a little water or wetting solution across the length of the container and allow it to seep into the humidification element. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the fluid to settle and distribute itself across the humidifying element. Wipe the cassette or container carefully to make sure no droplets of water will come in direct contact with your cigars or Spanish cedar. Then place the humidifier back into your humidor.
Propylene glycol (PG) is an integral part of commercial WETTING SOLUTIONS. The PG-distilled water solutions are pre-mixed in commercial products. Propylene glycol retards mold growth and slows the evaporation of water, thereby keeping relative humidity at stable levels. However, PG will eventually clog the pores in florist foam and polymers. Therefore, it is recommended that you replace those types of humidifiers every couple of years for best performance.
Silica gel beads should not be charged with PG solutions. Use only distilled water for silica gel. Also, don't use bottled drinking water in any of your passive humidifiers. It contains minerals and will reduce the useable life of your humidifier.
Be sure to watch my video: Charging Humidifiers, in the Humidor video section.
About the Author
David "Doc" Diaz is the publisher and the editor of the Stogie Fresh Cigar Publications. He has served as an educator, researcher and writer and has taught in the Health Education and Health Science field for over 30 years. He possesses an earned doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Doc is a Certified Master Tobacconist (CMT), having received this certification from the Tobacconist University and is a member and Ambassador of Cigar Rights of America (CRA).blog comments powered by Disqus