In the beginning, collecting cigars can seem both exciting and complicated. Fail to provide the proper storage environment and you’re left with dried out cigars. Add too much moisture and your cigars are hard to light, or even worse, moldy.
Storing your cigars in a humidor is definitely the way to go, but properly storing cigars is more than just tucking the cigars on a humidor shelf and shutting the door. You need to provide humidity. But how?
You need to use a humidifier and the right type of humidor activator. But what is cigar humidor solution and how does it work? Are there any drawbacks? How much humidor activator should you use? Let’s find out.
What is Humidor Activator?
Basically, this solution is a combination of distilled water and propylene glycol. This is a fifty-fifty mixture and it allows users to easily adjust humidity in their humidors. There are a number of reasons why it’s crucial that you use this mixture instead of just regular tap water or plain distilled water. The biggest reason why you need to use this solution at all times is that it’s free from contaminants, unlike plain tap water. Using plain tap water can cause unwanted tastes and foul odors. Additionally, you’ll find that it’s more difficult to control mold. This solution will help to maintain the perfect level of humidity in your humidor while helping to prevent mold growth.
Fortunately, learning how to use this solution is also very simple. All you need to do is place the humidor on a flat surface and open up the solution. Squirt some of the solution directly into the humidor. Avoid drenching the interior. Instead, simply ensure that all the surfaces of the humidor are coated with the solution, but not enough to cause it to drip from shelf to shelf. Use a clean cloth to remove any excess liquid. You should repeat this process if your cigars start to dry out, or once you notice that the hygrometer readings indicate that the humidity level is starting to drop.
Ideal Humidity Levels
Have you noticed that your humidor is not holding humidity? Or are you unsure what the right humidity level is? This is a common problem most beginners have. Fortunately, using the right type of solution and closely monitoring the conditions of your humidor may be enough to protect your cigars from drying out, and it can reduce the chances of mold growth. In order to keep your cigars in the proper environment, ensure that the humidity levels range from sixty-eight to seventy-two percent. This can depend on your preferred moisture level. If you don’t own a humidor and you’ve just begun to collect cigars, then do your research to ensure you buy only the best cigar humidor, based on how many cigars you want to store at one time. The La Cubana Glass Humidor is a durable, well-built model that makes controlling humidity levels a cinch.
How Difficult is it to Maintain Humidity Levels in a Humidor?
To maintain the proper humidity level, you need to use the right type of solution and a model made by one of the top humidor brands, one that has an excellent user rating in terms of build quality and ease of use. After you’ve purchased a humidor, you need to buy the activator solution. These solutions are premixed, so they’re ready to use. With the use of premixed solution, keeping your humidor humidity levels under control is almost effortless. It’s also a better option than using plain distilled water since humidity levels can become erratic and can be difficult to control.
Aside from using the right humidor and solution, you’ll need the help of other cigar accessories, including a hygrometer and a thermometer. However, the solution you use can be just as important.
Distilled Water Versus Premixed Solution
So, why should you use a propylene glycol solution instead of just plain distilled water? Some cigar smokers claim that using distilled water alone is just as good, that it can provide some advantages that a premixed solution can’t. But if you’re not an experienced cigar collector, or you don’t have time to constantly monitor humidity levels around the clock, then a premixed solution can be a more convenient, easier, and more efficient way to manage humidity. When a humidor becomes too dry, the solution will release absorbed moisture into the area. When you’re dealing with humidity levels that are too high, the solution also works to absorb any excess moisture. This will keep the environment inside the humidor stable. Another benefit that comes with using the activator is that propylene glycol prevents mold growth, which can be a big issue in humidors that are not maintained properly.
Mold growth is often a death sentence for stogies since it ruins the cigar flavor and makes them unusable. Once mold has taken hold of the interior of a humidor, it can also be almost impossible to get rid of, which is why taking preventative measures against mold growth is so important. Using activator solution that features the perfect fifty-fifty blend off propylene glycol and water can prevent mold from taking over your humidor and potentially ruining hundred or in some cases, thousands, of dollars’ worth of cigars.
Other Humidity Monitoring Tools
While using a good activator is definitely a step in the right direction, you’ll still need to pay close attention to the conditions in your humidor in order to create the perfect environment. As an example, you’ll need to ensure that the hygrometer installed in your humidor is working correctly and is accurate. If you want the most precise readings, then you’ll need to use a digital hygrometer. While analog models work out well, the readings are nowhere near as accurate.
You’ll also need to check the humidity levels using a more hands-on approach, every one to two weeks. Make sure you look inside the humidor for any areas that seem very dry, or too damp. If you’ve determined that your humidor isn’t working properly and you’ve done everything correctly, its seal may be to blame.
You also need to make sure that you check the humidity levels in your humidor every two weeks or so. Checking on a more frequent basis should be done in very dry areas, or if you suspect your humidor’s seal is not working properly. As you can see, learning how to adjust the humidity in your humidor will be important.
Do I Have to Use a Solution to Maintain Humidity Levels?
Yes, especially if your humidor is equipped with a foam or sponge humidifier. How often you need to charge the interior with the activator will vary and can depend on your home environment or the climate you live in. Avoid using plain distilled water at all costs since it can be too easy to over-humidify the interior and because it can also humidify the humidor too quickly. This is because the water lacks PG which is designed to restrict moisture control.
Can I Make My Own Humidor Solution?
Yes, but using a premixed solution is often a safer bet and one that ensures the liquid contains the perfect fifty-fifty blend of water and PG. However, if you’re determined to make your own solution, it can be done by following these guidelines:
To make your own solution, start by choosing a small container with a lid, that will hold your homemade solution. A film tube or a travel soap dish will work perfectly. Ensure that the container allows for proper airflow. In some cases, you may need to drill or cut a few holes in the container to allow air to circulate and flow through it. Cut up some humidor foam so that it fits loosely into the container. This foam comes in blocks. It’s also the same type of foam that’s commonly used in floral arrangements and it’s used to keep the flowers upright and hydrated. There should be enough room left in the container to allow air to flow around and across the surface of the foam, otherwise, the solution will not be able to regulate the humidity properly.
Next, you’ll mix equal parts distilled water and propylene glycol in a small bowl. How much you need will vary and will depend on the size of the foam you used. Take the cut piece of foam and dip it into the solution in order to dampen it. Avoid soaking the foam since this will cause the humidity level inside the humidor to rise dramatically. You only need to use enough to dampen it, so that the foam feels moist to the touch. Now, take the damp foam and place it in the container. Put the container in your humidor and monitor the hygrometer for two to three hours until the humidity level appears to be stable.
For this project, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Plastic container
- Propylene glycol
- Distilled water
You can easily find this type of foam at craft stores or flower shops. Avoid using dry foam, otherwise, the solution will not work to maintain humidity levels. Propylene glycol can be found at a local pharmacy, however, you may need to speak to a pharmacist directly in order to get your hands on this chemical. You can purchase distilled water from a local grocery store. Avoid using tap water since the chemicals in the water can contaminate your cigars or promote mold growth.
Depending on how big or small your humidor is, it may take the activator five to seven days to regulate the humidity properly.
Reaching Stable Humidity Levels
Even with the activator, are you finding it difficult to maintain humidity levels? Are you worried that the humidity is too high or low? If you don’t already have a digital hygrometer, it’s time to get one. As I mentioned earlier, an analog model may give a reading that claims the internal humidity is perfect, but in reality, it’s too moist or dry. This may become evident if your cigars taste bitter, the tobacco seems dry and brittle, or you have a hard time lighting your cigar because it’s too moist. The humidity levels in your humidor should be checked at least every two weeks. Using the PG solution and a more accurate hygrometer, you should notice a significant change in humidity levels within hours, although humidity levels may not stabilize for a few days if you have a huge humidor, one that can hold hundreds of cigars.
Leading Cigar Humidor Activators
Shopping around for a premixed activator can be time-consuming, considering how many different products are available. If you’re a new cigar smoker and you’re not sure how to choose an activator and pick one that actually works, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve tried out several brands and I’ve narrowed it down to the top four products. Each of these activators earned top marks with cigar aficionados and they’re very easy to use and apply. Below, you’ll notice a comparison chart that lists some important features such as how the product rated, the size of the bottle, and more. Not all activators are created equal, but if you want to ensure you purchase a product that works and can regulate humidity levels rapidly, then choose one of the solutions that made it onto my top four list.
Cigar Humidor Solution Comparison Chart
|Cigar Humidor Solution||3||16 oz||Yes|
|Volenx Cigar Solution||2||16 oz||No|
|Cigar Caddy Activator Solution||1||16 oz||No|
1. Essential Values Cigar Humidor Solution
This is a three-pack of humidor activator that contains high-quality PG, offering a safe, non-toxic formula that’s designed to prevent bacteria and mildew growth. This product is guaranteed to help control humidity levels in your humidor, maintaining seventy percent RH. This will keep your cigars smelling and tasting fresh for months and years to come.
- Three pack
- Low price
- Money-back guarantee
- Prevents mildew and bacteria growth
- Can take up to one week to regulate temperatures
This three-pack will give you more bang for your buck. The bottle features a small, easy to use applicator nozzle that ensures you don’t use too much product and oversaturate your humidor. A great buy for humidors of all sizes, this activator is at the top of its class, offering a powerful, pure formula.
2. Volenx Cigar Humidor Solution
Volenx is another leading activator that’s earned a reputation for maintaining seventy percent humidity, almost effortlessly. It’s perfect for all types of humidors and comes in a package of two. These small sixteen ounce bottles may seem a little on the pricy side, but considering how pure and powerful the formula is, it’s definitely worth it.
- Maintains seventy percent humidity
- Pack of two
- Easy to use applicator
- Pure formula
- The Price
This pack of two will last for several months, if not years, depending on the humidity needs in your humidor and your climate. This activator is powerful, proven effective, and very easy to use.
3. Stogies Mixed Cigar Humidor Solution
This activator by Stogies comes in an eight-ounce bottle with an easy to use flip spout, for controlled pouring. This manufacturer claims that their activator can ensure humidor humidity levels at seventy to seventy-five percent. While the bottle may seem small, this formula is powerful enough that the tiny bottle can provide a nine-month supply, which is pretty impressive.
- Flip spout
- Money-back guarantee
- Nine-month supply
- Pure formula
While this product is slightly pricier compared to the other products I’ve reviewed, it does contain a nine-month supply, and an easy to use flip spout for controlled pouring, and a money-back guarantee that will give buyers a little peace of mind.
4. Cigar Caddy Activator Solution
Cigar Caddy is a popular brand in the industry, so it comes as no surprise that their humidor activator is a top seller. The manufacturer claims that this product can achieve seventy percent humidity and works with any size and style of humidor. The bottle lacks a flip spout, which can make it all too easy for some users to accidentally use too much of the product, which can lead to moisture issues. However, the solution itself is very powerful, pure, and designed to easily manage humidity levels in a matter of days.
- Low price
- Potent formula
- Trusted brand
- One-year supply
- Poor lid design makes it easy to overpour
Cigar Caddy is a major manufacturer, one that most aficionados know and trust. While the pour spout needs a redesign, the formula itself is potent, pure, and designed to easily regulate humidity levels in humidors of all sizes.
What is cigar humidor solution and can it have a huge impact on humidity levels? It definitely can. This solution can be purchased premixed, or you can make your own. But if you want to ensure you’re using an activator that’s mixed correctly, then order one of the solutions in my top four list. The right activator can make maintaining the proper humidity levels in your humidor a cinch. Of course, it’s important that you follow the manufacturer’s application instructions in order to avoid using too much or too little of the activator. Happy Puffing!