For those new to cigars, there’s a night-and-day switch once you own your first humidor. The world of cigars opens up, and you realize there’s far more to cigars than enjoying a stogie at the occasional bachelor party or on the back nine at the golf course. There’s more to learn, more to enjoy, and, with a good quality humidor, you can begin your own unique, personalized collection from the comfort of your home.
Humidors make storing cigars feasible, certainly, and can extend their lifespan. But what’s lesser-known is that humidors and how they modulate humidity levels can also play a role in how well a certain cigar will smoke, affecting the entire experience.
When it comes to protecting and preserving your cigars with a humidor, the standard 70/70 rule has been a mainstay: aim for 70 percent humidity at a 70 degree Fahrenheit temperature. While this rule will mostly suffice—given humidors should stay in the ballpark of 65 percent to 72 percent humidity—more and more aficionados recommend a lower humidity level, often depending on the type of cigar.
And that requires the ability to lower the humidity of your humidor. Here we’ll take a look at how humidors regulate humidity levels, as well as how to change them, and why.
Why Lower Humidity?
Lowering the humidity in your humidors can improve the lifespan of certain cigars. And because it’s unlikely—not to mention ill-advised—that you’ll only smoke one kind of cigar, you’ll need to be able to adjust the levels of humidity depending on the cigar.
Every cigar smokes differently, and you’ll need to adjust the levels through experimentation with different brands, country of origin, and type. For example, Cigar Advisor cites multiple experts in the cigar industry with differing recommendations for humidity levels:
- Jose Blanco of Arturo Fuente Cigars: Full-65-66 percent, Medium-67-68 percent, Mellow-70-72 percent.
- Robert Holt of Southern Draw Cigars: 68-70 percent for most. As low as 65, never over 70
- Reinier Lorenzo of HVC Cigars: 63-65 percent.
- Master Blender, Rafael Nodal: 63-65 percent.
- Pedro Gomez Rodriguez of Drew Estate: 70 percent.
Jim Charnley of Famous Smoke Shop: 65 percent. 69 percent in the winter.
Note the last recommendation switches depending on the season. Both the season and the geography can change what level of humidity you might consider for storing your cigars.
During more humid seasons, consider lowering your humidity level in the humidor knowing that this will easily rise as soon as your cigars are exposed to more humid air. The same applies to regions where the air is generally more humid than others. In these cases, you can bend away from the recommendation of 70 percent humidity.
Measuring Humidity – Hygrometers
You need to accurately measure the humidity of your humidor to know current levels and to be able to change them, which is done with a hygrometer.
A hygrometer detects the humidity levels of your humidor box, which is necessary to monitor, control, and maintain the proper humidity level for your cigar collection. Hygrometers work by measuring what’s called evaporative cooling. Surfaces cool as the water evaporates, and a hygrometer detects the temperature change caused by evaporation to determine the level of relative humidity.
Many humidors come with a built-in hygrometer, like most Klaro humidors. These provide accurate readings of the internal humidity levels, and many are equipped with digital hygrometers that are accurate and easy to read.
Keep in mind, each time you open a humidor, you expose the cigars to unregulated air, which can change the humidor's humidity level. For that reason, consider finding a humidor with an exterior-reading hygrometer, so you don’t have to open the humidor each time to see the reading.
Unfortunately, hygrometers on lower-quality humidors often provide incorrect readings, either because of incorrect placement on the humidor or malfunctioning from a bad seal. Klaro humidors are carefully pre-calibrated before shipping out so you don’t have to worry, but be on the lookout for hygrometers on cheaper humidors, especially analog. While many consider it commonplace to calibrate your hygrometer DIY, we don’t recommend calibrating humidors unless there is a very significant discrepancy in the reading.
The placement of the hygrometer is also important for getting an accurate reading. When shopping for humidors, inquire about the location of the hygrometer sensors. These should be located inside the humidor where they have appropriate exposure to the same air as the cigars.
Changing Humidity - Humidor Humidifier
Not only should your humidor have the means to measure the humidity levels, but you should also be able to manipulate the humidity levels. And this process will be different depending on the type of humidor you use. While many smaller humidors will have a fairly simple humidification system, larger walk-in humidors and humidor refrigerators will have far more complex systems.
The humidification system in your humidor will add or remove moisture in the air depending on your desired humidity levels. Many humidors are made with a Spanish cedar interior, which absorbs and releases moisture as needed. This, in combination with a good humidification system, should allow you to accurately manipulate humidification levels.
The Klaro Hydro System incorporates a unique Hydro Tray that exposes the humidification solution directly to the air of the humidor. This allows you to control the humidity level. Your Klaro humidor is built so that lowering the humidity is simple, easy, and straightforward.
Steps to Lower Humidity
If you need to lower the humidity in your Klaro humidor, the process couldn’t be more simple. First things first, remove your cigars from the box. Then, remove both the wood tray and the Hydro Tray from the humidor. Return the cigars to the naked box (leaving the Hydro Tray outside of the humidor) and let things settle for the next 24-48 hours.
During this time your cigars will remain protected and will help the humidity levels in the humidor regulate. With the Spanish cedar and the tobacco of the cigars, the humidity levels will balance out. At the same time, the Hydro Tray is tempering off as well.
Once the humidity levels have fallen, replace the Hydro Tray and wooden covering in the humidor. Let this normalize for the next 12-24 hours, and check the levels. If still not to your satisfaction, you can repeat this process until you dial in the lower humidity levels you’re looking for. The ideal humidity level for your cigars is between 65 and 72 percent.
Temperature is a key factor here to watch: if the humidor digital hygrometer on your Klaro is reading anything higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re putting your cigars at risk of opening up, allowing more moisture into the tobacco, which can negatively affect the smoking experience.
If you live in a high-humidity location where you continually struggle with higher humidity levels in your humidor, you might not be using the right solution in your Hydro Tray. Klaro makes two types of humidor solution: Regular solution and Winter + Dry Climate solution. At high-humidity locations, be sure you are using the Regular solution which will help you maintain proper humidity levels.
Steps to Lower Humidity in Other Humidors
Some steps for lowering the humidity of your humidor can be fairly universal if you only manipulate those controls that tend to be included in all humidors—large or small. This involves humidification fluids, humidity accessories, and techniques to reduce moisture in your humidor.
Refill Fluids Less Frequently
Many humidors require some form of fluid that helps maintain moisture levels. Generally, these will have to be refilled about once a month. The type of fluid used is often either distilled water or a combination of distilled water and propylene glycol, a mold deterrent.
When trying to lower the humidity levels, refill the fluid levels less frequently, which will require the humidor to recirculate only the moisture currently in the humidor. It’s especially important to refrain from refilling during especially humid months.
Use Regulation Accessories
Crystals, gels, humidor packs, and beads are imperative components for many humidors that don’t come equipped with a humidification system. These types of accessories are designed to slowly release humidity into the air as well as absorb excess humidity.
For humidors that do include a humidification system, you can include beads to further lower humidity levels if needed. Beads can be purchased in different levels—60 percent, 65 percent, 70 percent, for example—and these will help give additional moisture storage, so your humidor can return to a lower humidity quicker upon opening.
Another trick to lowering humidity is to use cedar strips. This extra wood can absorb more moisture from the air, and you can simply remove them when you’ve achieved your desired humidity level.
Expose the Humidor to Regular Airflow
Consider this the last-ditch effort if the previous methods have not helped you reduce the humidity within your humidor. But, if your humidity levels exceed 70 percent, you can simply open the humidor and expose it to regular humidity levels to hopefully decrease the moisture level within the humidor.
The problem with this method is that it can shock your cigars, causing them to expand or contract too quickly with the changing moisture levels. And, in geographic locations with high humidity, you can even further harm your cigars.
Half the battle of lowering the humidity in a humidor is to prevent it from escalating due to frequent opening or changing seasons. Once you’ve locked in your desired humidity, use your hygrometer to monitor humidity levels and identify anything that could contribute to a spike.
For example, avoid overfilling your humidor as this can prevent proper airflow and can cause a spike in humidity. In addition, consider where you store your humidor: if exposed to sunlight this could affect the temperature which will, in turn, affect the humidity. The most important aspect of a humidor is to understand its capabilities and to become comfortable with changing the humidor to achieve your desired results.