When cigar lovers talk about their cigar collections and accessories, the humidor will always be part of the conversation.

If you are a fresh cigar enthusiast, or you’re not familiar with how to store cigars at all, you might be wondering what is a humidor or humidor box in the first place.

For that, we’ve got your back.

What Is a Humidor?

A humidor is a container used to store your fine cigar collection. It is designed to maintain the appropriate internal humidity level, allowing the cigars to stay fresh.

This feature of the humidor is very important because tobacco leaves may contract or expand based on the temperature and moisture level of their surroundings.

That said, it will work only if the humidor is sealed properly. Check out our guide to tell if your humidor is creating a proper seal.

Humidors come in various shapes and sizes; some are equipped with advanced features necessary for prolonging the lifespan of cigars.

You will find high-quality cigar humidors with electronic humidifiers and digital hygrometers, but these models cost more.

Traditional humidors are made out of wood and are around 1.5 by 1 foot long.

If you have a smaller collection, there are portable and compact travel humidors that can store around five cigars at a time.

As for cigar shops, they use walk-in humidors to store hundreds of cigars; you can use the same if you plan to grow your collection.

In the end, your choice will depend on what you believe your cigars need.

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Main Components that Make Humidors Work

A humidor is not just a wooden box that keeps your cigars safe.

Several components work together to ensure that excess moisture, direct sunlight, and other harmful elements won’t harm your collection.

In general, a high-quality electric humidor would have the following components:

Humidifier

All humidors must have a built-in humidifier. After all, this is the most important part of a cigar storage unit.

The simplicity or complexity of the cigar humidifier depends on the overall quality and size of the humidor, but they all serve the same crucial purpose—keeping your cigars moist.

Basically, the humidifier prevents the cigars from getting extremely dry by preserving the essential oils within the tobacco and on the surface of the wrapper leaves.

Without these oils, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the flavor and aroma of your favorite cigars.

As a general rule of thumb, the level of humidity inside the humidor must be at 70%. This is the optimal storage condition to keep your cigars fresh.

For a humidor to do this, it needs a source of water. In other words, a humidor’s humidifier needs any of the following:

·        Sponge

Basic humidors use the simplest humidifier, a sponge. This sponge introduces moisture into the humidor when it is soaked in distilled water.

Keep in mind that you must only use distilled water when using a sponge to manipulate the internal levels of humidity within your humidor.

Other types of water may introduce various minerals that can ruin the quality of your cigars; worse, your cigars may develop mold caused by the excess water.

Unfortunately, keeping the level of humidity steady is very challenging for this method.

·        Floral Foam

Have you ever seen those green foam blocks people use to hold flower stems and prop flower arrangements? As it turns out, they are not just for aesthetics.

These are actually called floral foams, and they are highly efficient in holding plenty of water.

Gradually, floral foams release the water to increase the air humidity in their surroundings.

One downside to using floral foams is that they also tend to absorb cigar odors. Plus, you will need to replace them every 12 months.

If you intend to use a foam humidifier for your cigar box, it will perform better if you use propylene glycol instead of distilled water.

A solution of propylene glycol is capable of maintaining 65%-72% relative humidity within your humidor. This means there is no excess moisture that can potentially ruin your cigar.

·        Crystal Gel

Crystal gel beads are relatively small, but they are capable of holding water over 500 times their initial weight.

They will then gradually release the water and increase the humidor’s internal humidity through evaporation.

Crystal gel beads also use propylene glycol, but only to allow them to release the water at a slower pace.

After the pretreatment, all you need to activate them is to soak them in distilled water.

That said, crystal gel beads will slowly be ineffective as they continue to dissipate.

As a result, you would have to replace them after a couple of years, sometimes maybe even a little earlier.

·        Silica Gel Beads

In areas with humid climates, you will need a material that absorbs excess moisture instead of increasing the humidity levels.

Gel beads with silica gel are an excellent choice for this.

When you buy a pair of shoes, you will often find a small white packet inside the box that says “DO NOT EAT.” That is what silica beads are.

Note that these little beads are not very efficient in arid environments. They tend to dry out quickly to really bring any benefit to your cigars.

learn what is a humidor

·        Humidipaks

Humidipaks are special humidifiers manufactured specifically for providing or removing moisture from packaging containers.

It features a two-way humidity control.

Basically, a membrane wraps around the material, allowing it to expel or absorb water. Through this process, you can maintain an adequate humidity level inside the humidor.

Humidipaks come in different packets designed to maintain different levels of humidity.

For a humidor, you want a 65-72% humidity level, so be sure to choose a packet within this range.

Also, even though Humidipaks are extremely convenient, they regularly need replacement, so be sure you remember to restock every few months.

·        Electronic Humidity Control System

If you want something that will make your life easier, use an electronic humidity control system.

An electronic humidifier is a small machine you plug into an electric socket, allowing you to control the moisture inside the humidor.

It comes with a tank or a small container that you refill with distilled water.

The electronic humidifier will then keep track of the internal humidity levels of the humidor and will introduce moisture to the airflow if the humidity drops.

Hygrometer

We’ve mentioned maintaining the humidity level of the humidor between 65% to 72%.

The question is, how do you know the level of humidity in the first place? That’s the primary function of a hygrometer.

By determining the current level of humidity within the humidor, you can easily decide whether to add moisture or absorb excess water in the air.

A hygrometer can either be analog or digital.

In some advanced cabinet humidors, it is connected to the humidifier so that it can automatically adjust the internal humidity levels.

On the other hand, if you are using a traditional humidor and a simple hygrometer, you need to check the humidity levels at least once a week.

Doing this ensures that the cigars do not dry up or receive too much moisture.

Thermostat

Aside from humidity, internal temperature also plays a crucial role in maintaining the best conditions for cigars.

In general, the internal temperature of a humidor must be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but any temperature between 60 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit should also be fine.

If you have extra cash to spare, you can get a humidor with temperature control.

If you don’t, you will need at least a thermometer to determine the humidor’s internal temperature.

Adjusting the temperature without a thermostat can be as easy as moving the humidor to a cooler or warmer location.

This is very important, as relatively high temperatures can cause cigar beetle egg infestation.

Additionally, a thermostat also assists with maintaining the right level of humidity inside the container.

By adjusting the thermostat to a higher temperature, the air inside gets warmer, which then adds moisture to the humidor.

The opposite effect is achieved by adjusting the thermostat to a lower temperature.

Some humidors include a cooler or a heater, and a thermostat will independently control these devices to keep the ideal atmosphere for your cigars.

Spanish Cedar Wood

Different humidors use different materials, but the best ones should at least have Spanish cedar lining or shelves.

Spanish cedar humidors prevent the tobacco leaves from decaying and protect your cigars from tobacco beetles and other insects.

Even if a humidor only uses Spanish cedar shelves, it will significantly reduce the risk of mildew and mold buildup.

Additionally, Spanish cedar is highly efficient in absorbing and releasing moisture, depending on the atmospheric conditions inside the humidor.

One of the primary concerns of cigar aficionados with certain types of humidors is that the wood might add an undesirable flavor to the tobacco.

Well, Spanish cedar is highly desirable because of the layer of aroma it adds to the cigar.

The Perfect Cigar Storage

Whether you are a die-hard or a casual cigar aficionado, you need to be very careful when choosing a storage unit for your cigars.

You want something that not only protects the stogies from insects but also keeps them fresh, maybe even helps them taste better as they age.

The only thing that can do that is a humidor.

So when someone asks what is a humidor, just say it’s one of the most important investments you need to pay attention to.

Make sure you also know how to season a new humidor to maximize its potential.