Humidors 101: Everything You Need to Know About Cigar Humidors


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If you have a friend or family member into cigars, chances are, they have a cigar humidor in their home—a sleek wooden box or case that houses all of their cigars. Humidors are a part of the lifestyle of owning and enjoying cigars. At their most basic level, they have a singular purpose and fulfill an important need—they keep cigars fresh and ready for you to enjoy.


If there’s one thing everyone knows about cigars, it’s that they need to be stored properly. Stogies can’t experience sustained exposure to excessive heat, cold, humidity, or dryness. If they do, their taste will be altered and the cigar will be ruined. Like Goldilocks, cigars do best when their environment is just right. 


That, however, is as far as most people’s knowledge goes on the subject. They know there’s a sweet spot in terms of temperature and humidity levels for cigars, but they don’t actually know what that sweet spot is. 


It might surprise you to learn that in just a couple of weeks of being stored at the incorrect temperature or humidity, a cigar will lose its quality. This is an especially bad scenario if you’ve paid good money for your cigars.


So, let’s get into the specifics on what a humidor does, why it’s important, what it actually does to the cigar, and much, much more. Buckle up. Your education in humidors is about to begin. Once you read this article, you’ll know everything you need to at a high level about humidors. 

What Is a Humidor?


For the uninitiated, a humidor might just look like a small storage container, and in essence, it is. Humidors are boxes, cases, or cabinets that store cigars, but they’re far beyond a simple cigar box. 


Humidors are specially designed container that’s crafted to maintain a specific humidity level and temperature. Some humidors are more advanced than others, and modern ones, provide a temperature and humidity-controlled environment that ensures its contents stay within a certain specified zone—what I’d say is the Goldilock zone. 


Humidors come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be as simple as a small travel-sized box that you can pop in your suitcase or a large walk-in-closet-sized room like you’ll find in many cigar shops. The size and shape aren’t really super important. What’s important, is the function of the humidor and some of the key components. 


All humidors will have a good seal to maintain internal temperature and humidity levels. Modern ones will have both a thermostat and hygrometer (more on these later) to show to the owner the status of the air inside the humidor. 


The construction of humidors, which I’ll discuss more in-depth later on, is typically primarily wood. That said acrylic, glass, and metal are also materials commonly used. There are also some humidors that feature carbon fiber, silicon carbide, and polyethylene, though those are rarer.


While the materials do wonders to make the humidor look like an upscale item or luxurious piece of furniture, the use of the materials selected also has practical functions. In the end, it’s all about providing the optimal environment for the cigars in order to keep them fresh and ready for your pleasure.  

How Do Humidors Work?

 

 


Cigars are rather delicate items. Too much heat and humidity, and they can actually begin to mold and rot. This can also lead to an infestation of tobacco beetles if not taken seriously. Go the other way, and the cigar will lose its flavor, dry out, become brittle, crack, and generally fall apart. 


To combat these issues, humidors do two things, they keep your cigars at the proper humidity levels and help keep the temperature inside the humidor at the proper level to ensure the cigar will stay perfectly fresh. Here’s how that happens. 

The Humidor’s Humidifier

The most important component of the humidor is the humidification system. Without this important part, there wouldn’t be much separating a humidor from a simple storage container. Humidifiers can be extremely simple or rather complex. Generally, larger humidifiers will have more complex humidification systems, and smaller ones will have simpler ones.


The simplest humidification systems are little more than sponges that hold water and let it slowly release into the atmosphere of the inside of the humidor. Then there are some gel solutions that you can use. Crystal gel beads, for example, can actually hold up to hundreds of times their weight in moisture. This moisture is then released over a longer period of time then you will typically get with the simpler foam humidification systems. Case Elegance has its own unique gel solution that is designed to make humidifying and seasoning your humidifier quick and easy. 


There are also electric humidifiers that you’ll find in humidors. These are the ones routinely found in large humidors, and they’re uncommon in smaller, desktop designs. You’ll routinely find these in cabinets and full-size room humidors.


I’ll discuss the types of wood used in humidors a little later on, but that is also an important part. Different woods retain and expel humidity at different rates, so a humidor with the right type of wood and the right amounts of that wood will humidify better than ones that are made of other materials. 

The Hygrometer and Thermostat

So, now you know about the humidifier in a humidor and the importance of keeping the environment inside the humidifier at the right moisture levels and the right temperature, but how do you know what the levels are? That’s where the hygrometer and thermostat come in. 


The hygrometer measures the humidity levels inside the humidor. The thermostat measures the temperature. Odds are you’re familiar with the latter, but the former could be a new item for those new to cigars.


The most basic humidors will often forgo the thermostat, and that’s not too big of an issue. Just go by the temperature in the room the humidor is in. That said, if you’re traveling, or you will have your humidor in a room or area where the temperature fluctuates above 72 degrees or below 60 degrees (Fahrenheit), then you might want to have a thermostat built-in. 


The hygrometer is especially important. Without it, knowing the humidity level inside your humidor is pretty much impossible. There are analog hygrometers and digital hygrometers. Often digital hygrometers will be built into the humidor so you can see them without opening the unit. Digital ones are also typically more accurate than analog. That said, both work relatively well because you’re shooting for a range of humidity not necessarily a specific number. 


Some boxes and cabinets will have the hygrometer and thermostat built right into the box, so you can see the status without opening them. Others will have these items placed inside the box (sometimes attached to the lid), and you’ll need to actually open it to see what the readings are. 

Humidor Wood


The wood most commonly used in humidors is Spanish Cedar. This is due to several reasons, starting with the way it interacts with the proper humidity levels for cigars. Spanish Cedar is unique in that it retains and expels humidity levels well. It does so most of the time without warping or cupping, too, and this means fluctuations in humidity levels won’t cause the humidor to become misshapen. 


Another benefit to Spanish Cedar is that it smells nice and won’t alter the taste of the cigar. Many manufacturers of cigars even use cedar when packaging and shipping cigars around the world. If it’s good enough for that, then you’d better believe it will be good enough for your own cigar storage needs. 


Spanish Cedar also seems to keep tobacco beetles away. It has a natural tendency to keeping humidity levels in the right range keeps these pesky critters at bay, which is another reason it’s so widely used by cigar manufacturers. Tobacco beetles lay eggs on tobacco leaves. Occasionally, those eggs make their way onto tobacco leaves that are rolled into cigars. If it gets too warm or humid, those eggs hatch, and you have a big problem on your hands. Utilizing Spanish Cedar provides a natural way to keep this in check. 


As I’ve noted above, not all humidors are made solely out of wood, there are various types of materials used, but wood is the most common, and the vast majority of wood humidors you’ll find on the market will be made of cedar. Most of that cedar will be Spanish Cedar. It has been this way for hundreds of years, and will likely continue to be that way for many years to come. 

A Brief History of Humidors

Humidors have been around for hundreds of years. There are plenty of claims by companies and well-known cigar makers to have invented the first humidor, but I found conflicting evidence on what was the true first humidor. 


Early humidors were nothing more than a sealed box or jar. They didn’t really have a humidification system. Instead, they just tried to keep the cigars in a controlled environment. Then people began experimenting with ways to keep moisture in the boxes. This is how Spanish Cedar was discovered to be so good at this. It continued to progress from there. 


In the 1800s, cigars really took off. They were exceptionally popular, and that resulted in the need for people to be able to properly store their cigars without having them get super dried out or too humid and hot. Since that time, humidors have been a very common part of owning and enjoying cigars. 

Types of Humidors

I’ve noted already the different types of humidors out there, but let’s take a closer look at this so that we can be sure to hit all the different types. There are three main attributes that can be used to identify different types: electric or non-electric, size, and construction. 

Electric and Non-Electric

This is all about the humidification system used. As was previously noted, electric humidors utilize an electric humidifier. Because this requires electricity, it’s most often used on larger humidifiers and stationary humidifiers. It requires a power source (often a standard outlet) to function properly. Non-electric humidifiers are the most common and are used in smaller humidors. 

Sizes

When it comes to sizes of humidors, there are typically four or so sizes. Here’s a quick rundown: 

  • Walk-Ins
    Walk-in humidors are what you’ll find in cigar stores and clubs, though there are cigar aficionados that have walk-ins at their home. These are often electrified.
  • Cabinets
    Cabinets are standalone pieces of furniture. They typically hold over 1,000 cigars and are a great option for long-term, deep storage. They can be electrified, too. 
  • Boxes and Desktops
    These are the most common and either feature a lid that lifts up and often some trays. They’re typical built to accommodate 20 to 50 or so cigars, depending on their size. Some can hold around 100. 
  • Travel Humidors
    The smallest of the bunch. These are portable and usually pretty small. They’ll accommodate somewhere between two and 20 cigars.  

Construction

When it comes to the construction, you’ll notice, as I’ve already mentioned, the vast majority of humidors are made of Spanish Cedar. Some have some cedarwood and some other types of wood. 


You’ll also find carbon fiber humidors, but in that case, you’ll notice that they still feature wood on the interior of the humidor because the wood still does a fantastic job of retaining and expelling moisture. 

How Much Do Humidors Cost?


Humidors can cost anywhere from under $50 to several hundreds of dollars. It all depends on what you’re looking for. Obviously, the bigger and more complex the humidor, the greater the cost will be. Also, antique or vintage humidors will carry a hefty price tag. As humidors became more popular with affluent customers in the early 1800s and 1900s, they got more and more ornate. 


You’ll notice on our own website, we have humidors priced reasonably. They start around $34 and go up from there. Obviously, the more expensive the humidor, the more advanced it will be and the more features it will have. 


Higher-priced boxes and desktops will often feature a humidor accessories drawer. This gives you a place that isn’t climate-controlled to store your butane torch lighter, travel case, and more. Generally, the higher-priced humidors will also perform better in terms of keeping the humidity at a specific level longer. Still, even the affordable options will get the job done. 

Choosing a Humidor


So, with all the knowledge above, and all of the options out there, you’ll need to decide what humidor is right for you. The answer certainly isn’t the same for everyone. It depends on a variety of factors including your budget, how often you enjoy cigars, how many cigars you plan to keep at once, and the space in your home that you have to put your humidor. Not everyone has much room for their cigars, and not everyone needs that much room. 


Before you just buy the first humidor that looks good to you, you should really think about your needs. As yourself the following questions. How often do you enjoy cigars? How many cigars do you plan to keep at once? What’s your budget, or how much do you want to spend? If you’re an occasional cigar smoker, then you’ll likely do just fine with something like a small desktop box humidor. If you’re a more avid aficionado and plan to have plenty of cigars on hand at all times, then a larger option—something like the Octodor Glasstop Humidor (discussed in detail below)—is likely a better choice. 

Recommended Humidors

The humidors I’d recommend come from our Klaro line of humidors. They offer a premium product at a super reasonable cost. Here are the humidors in the lineup and what makes each one of them special. 

Military Glass Top Humidor


Built like a tank, the Military Glass Top Humidor is made of thick wood with a cedar inlay. This combination makes it easy to maintain and easy to use. The corners feature polished gunmetal corner guards, the sides offer lid latches, and stenciled, distressed graphics feature under the custom carrying handles. 


Resembling a military footlocker, this humidor is built to last and be a featured piece of any room. It also has a drawer that comes with foam pre-cut to fit the Gunmetal Accessory Kit. This foam is removable if you’d rather not purchase the kit. If you’re looking for a humidor to keep 50 to 100 cigars, this is a fantastic option.


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Octodor Glass Top Humidor


Built to be the epitome of luxury in the Klaro lineup, the Octodor has a striking octagon silhouette. It offers customers a posh black piano finish, glass top, front digital hygrometer, accessory storage drawer, Spanish cedar, magnetic enclosure, and the patent-pending Hydro System. 


The Octodor also features a cedar tray inside to provide some separation. Low down on the unit is an accessories drawer specifically designed for Case Elegance’s humidor accessories. The Octodor holds up to 100 cigars and is a fantastic option for just about anyone who enjoys Cigars.


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Renzo Glass Top Humidor

The Renzo Glass Top Humidor is another fine, premium offering. It features a beautiful walnut gloss finish, wood construction, glass top, and a Spanish Cedar interior that will work perfectly to keep your cigars at optimal humidity. 


If you need a place for your humidor accessories, the Renzo has you covered as well with a handy drawer lower down underneath the humidifying space. This particular option is perfect for somewhere between 50 and 70 cigars, depending on the size of those cigars. 


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Mill Glass Top Humidor


The Mill Glass Top Humidor features much of the same design as the Renzo. However, it differs in its appearance and is actually larger than the Renzo, making it an attractive option for cigar aficionados who want a little higher capacity. 


The finish is a light satin grey, and the hardware is all metal. Of course, Spanish Cedar adorns the interior and there’s a drawer for your humidor accessories. The Mill Glass Top offers a maximum capacity for between 60 and 90 cigars depending on their size.  


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Primera Glass Top Humidor

Primera

A sleek and modern humidor, the Primera Glass Top offers an uncommon two-tone finish in black and white, white being the prominent color. Every edge of the box is rounded, giving it a smooth look overall. This humidor features a special peg system, allowing you to stack cigars any way you’d like. 


There’s a digital hygrometer built into the front of the humidor, and a glass top so you can see the cigars without opening the box. The Primera can accommodate up to 90 cigars depending on their size and arrangement within the box. 


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Kingston Carbon Fiber Humidor


If a wood finish on the exterior of the box isn’t for you and you want something more modern, then look no further than the Kingston Carbon Fiber Humidor. This product offers a wood construction with a matte carbon fiber finish, giving you an all-around unique look. 


The interior is fully lined with Spanish Cedar, so that your cigars will have no issue staying fresh, and there’s a digital hygrometer on the exterior of the box, so you can see the status of the humidity without opening it. The Kingston is good for up to 68 cigars depending on their size. 


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Kingston Cherry Finish Humidor


If you like the sound of the Kingston humidor, but want a classic wood finish, then the Kingston Cherry Finish Humidor is the one for you. This product features, the same design and construction as the Kingston Carbon Fiber, but it offers a deep and beautiful cherry finish on the exterior. 


Inside you’ll find the same Spanish Cedar to keep your cigars fresh, and the digital hygrometer on the outside of the humidor will show you the status of the interior without you having to open it. Again, the Kingston has enough capacity for up to 68 cigars depending on their size. 


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Desktop Digital Cherry Humidor


If you’re just an occasional cigar smoker, and you don’t feel the need to have dozens of cigars on hand at all times, then something simple like this Desktop Digital Cherry Humidor will do the trick. 


Made of real Spanish Cedar and featuring a deep Cherry finish, this box offers the essentials for humidifying your cigars. You get a digital hygrometer and a humidification system. You can store up to 25 cigars within this humidor, and that’s plenty for the casual cigar aficionado. 


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Desktop Analog Cherry Humidor


Going digital is great, but if you want to kick it old school, or you just don’t feel the need for a simple humidor to have a digital hygrometer, then the Desktop Analog Cherry Humidor is for you. Instead of having a digital hygrometer, you get a classic analog one. It does the job well. 


Other than the hygrometer, this box is no different than the one discussed above. It still features the top-notch Spanish Cedar construction and a beautiful cherry finish. Again, this humidor is good for up to 25 cigars. 


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How to Use Your Humidor

Exactly how you use your humidor will vary from product to product. The manufacturer of the humidor should provide you with instructions on how to season and use your humidor. The process should never be that complicated. 


The idea is to provide you with a smart way of storing your cigars for later use, not make it difficult for you to keep them nice. That said, some will require more work than others. Generally, you’ll use your humidor like this, you season the humidor, place your cigars inside, and then monitor the temperature and humidity levels so that your cigars stay nice.

 

Seasoning Your Humidor

Seasoning your humidor is something that sounds more complicated than it really is. It's also a lot less labor-intensive than you might imagine. For a standard wood humidor with a simple humidification system, it will take just a bit of effort and time. The idea is simple: moisten the inside of the humidor to keep it at a nice humidity level for your cigars. The good range to keep your stogies is 65%-72%.

As with all things, humidity tends to leave the humidor little by little; so you will have to do a maintenance every now and then. Also, depending on the season and your local climate, you may have to season it a little harder. Another thing to mind is the temperature. You must try to keep the humidor as close to a comfortable 70°F (20°C) as possible. Your humidor doesn't regulate its own temperature (unless you have a Fridgador).

The latest Klaro Humidors come fitted with the HYDRO SYSTEM, which humidifies the cedar with the liquid humidor solution directly from the bottom up. It comes with a custom-sized hydro tray, humidity-holding gel beads, and two types of custom formulated humidor solutions. You'll need to replenish it eventually, so we recommend subscribing to our yearly Klaro Membership, which comes with our proprietary mix of regular and Winter/Dry humidor solution that cover all types of climates.

If you're a customer of Case Elegance or Klaro, select your model (here) and let us know if you have any questions through our various customer support channels.

Happy smoking!