Seasoning a new humidor (also called, “priming” or “conditioning”) is a very important first step for your new box. Many people underestimate the importance of seasoning. But, the result of simply tossing cigars into a new humidor without following through with this first step might be a collection of bad-smoking cigars and an investment up in smoke.
When most humidors are built, the Spanish cedar is naturally dry as most woods are prior to woodworking. Now at Vanderburgh, we store all of our Spanish cedar in a special humidified room that is pre-conditioned to 70%RH. So when we craft your humidor, the cedar will already be pre-seasoned. Even still, through shipping, the wood might lose some of its humidity, so I would still recommend that you season your new humidor. But before we go into how to season, let me do a quick review of the special qualities of Spanish cedar.
Qualities of Spanish Cedar
Spanish cedar has unique qualities for its use in a humidor:
• Spanish cedar has a natural resistance to mold and mildew.
• It imparts a desirable scent to the cigar, while the cigar ages.
• The cigar beetle dislikes the scent of Spanish cedar, which acts like a repellent in preventing beetle outbreaks.
• If the humidor is built properly, the Spanish cedar acts as a moisture buffer, so if the lid of the humidor is frequently opened, the interior RH returns quickly to its previously desired level.
The special properties of Spanish cedar make it act like a sponge: it will both absorb and desorb moisture. If the Spanish cedar lining in your humidor is very dry, as it is in a natural state, then it can actually pull moisture out of your cigars potentially damaging them. In order to prevent dried out stogies, one must ‘season,’ ‘prime,’ or ‘condition’ your Spanish cedar lining to ensure a reliable and stable internal microclimate.
The Process of Seasoning Your Humidor
The Easy Humidor Seasoning Method
The Traditional Humidor Seasoning Method
A common and traditional method of seasoning a humidor starts with wiping down the interior with a moist rag. Using a lint-free cloth that has been slightly dampened with distilled water, lightly wipe the entire interior surface of the Spanish cedar. Though I used to recommend this process for all humidors, I have changed my opinion based on the low quality of many bargain basement humidors sold online and in budget-retail shops. Since there are a vast amount of cheap humidors on the market, I would now avoid this procedure. On cheap humidors you could run the risk of over-expanding the interior lining causing structural joint failure. Instead, I would let your humidifier do the work for you.
First of all, make sure the humidor is completely empty and free of lint, dust, or dirt. Fill your humidifier with proper solution and let it sit inside the humidor by itself. Close the lid and allow the Spanish cedar to naturally absorb the moisture over the next few days. To expedite the process, you can also place an additional cup of distilled water inside your humidor.
Every day for the next 7-10 days, continue to top-up your humidifier with the proper solution. Monitor the internal relative humidity (%RH) and once it seems stable at around +/- 70% you can begin to introduce cigars to your humdidor. This usually takes a week to 10 days.
Priming your humidor is usually required only once, but by doing so, you will ensure stable, consistent aging and maturation of your cigars for your smoking enjoyment.