Climate change. It’s not just for environmentalists and meteorologists anymore. It doesn’t matter what the weather looks like outside. Cigar smokers have to worry about what’s happening inside their humidor at that particular moment and prepare for what next week’s forecast may bring.
A well-seasoned, properly sealed humidor box is a protected cocoon for cigars. An eddy in the whirlpool of life, where humidity and temperature rarely change at a rapid rate, if at all. However, the outside world can still greatly affect how a humidor functions, and if given enough time, can royally ruin a stash of stogies.
It’s time we discussed how a particular climate can make or break the wrapper on a hand-rolled cigar, and how humidor humidity varies depending upon the season.
Successful year-round cigar storage requires knowing your climate, selecting the right environment for your humidor box, and having the right tools and accessories on hand. Failure to do these things brings with it the risk of a humidor becoming a coffin for a cigar collection.
Location… It’s Not Just About Latitude and Longitude
It may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people put their humidor box on the window sill, allowing their cigars to roast in direct sunlight. It’s not like stuffing a handful of dried-out cigars into a plastic bag with a soggy paper towel is going to magically make them bounce back, but you see that too.
Climate matters, both regarding where you stow your stogies, and the type of environment you call home.
For instance, elevation is one of those elements that few people consider when they think of long-term cigar humidor box storage woes. Those of us who have spent time way up in the mountains, and felt the negative effects of thin air know full well that extreme elevation is not a good host for humidity.
It’s no secret that tobacco thrives in muggy environments closer to the equator. It won’t happen overnight, but a cigar smoker in Breckenridge, Colorado is going to have to keep a much closer eye on their stogie stash than, say, someone bumping around the bayou in Bon Secour, Alabama.
Elevation issues go well beyond influencing the internal humidor humidity our cigars rely upon too. Drier, thinner air can cause humidor wood to contract, which over time can cause that humidor lid to not seal properly.
So if that nosebleed you suddenly got while hiking in the Andes isn’t enough of a warning sign, try the following scientific fact on for size.
“On the average, fully half the water in the atmosphere lies below 0.25 km (about 0.2 miles), and satellite observations over the United States in April revealed 1 mm (0.04 inch) or less of water in all the air above 6 km (4 miles).” -Encyclopedia Britannica
As soon as you start climbing in elevation, humidity is increasingly short in supply.
It’s the Time… of the Season, When Humidity Runs High
It may sound like a bad rendition of a classic hippie pop love ballad, but in most places around the world, humidity fluctuates on a massive scale depending upon the season.
For most of the world, summer rains usher in a staggering spike in humidity, which at first glance may appear to be a blessing for our cigars and the humidors in which they reside. But a sudden spike in sticky air can spell disaster for a poorly sealed humidor box, as soggy stogies rarely burn right, and issues like humidor mold are quick to fester.
In contrast, there’s a reason why winter skincare products are in high demand every year, as cold weather often brings with it dry air. Just like the epidermis on our bodies, the wrappers on our cigars are prone to drying out and cracking when exposed to excessively dry environments.
Those living in areas where dry winter weather is a concern will often find that the use of a specialized digital hygrometer for humidors and run-of-the-mill humidor packs simply won’t cut the cap. This is why having a properly calibrated humidification device that has been loaded with a proprietary “Winter & Dry Climate Solution” is vital for negating the risk of cigars drying out during winter months.
These formulas pack an enhanced blend of propylene glycol and distilled water to help give a cigar humidor box the moisture boost it requires during drier winter months. Remember, humidor wood is permeable, so unless you are relying upon a composite humidor travel pack, that optimum 65-72% humidity level is going to fluctuate as that Spanish cedar moistens up or dries out.
Furthermore, those who live in arid environments that do not see significant spikes in humidity should utilize this robust humidification blend year-round. With the appropriate amount of humidity present, a well-built humidor can maintain a balanced medium year-round, regardless of whether you live in the world.
Tobacco Nerd Note: Try storing your cigar humidor in a room that does not receive direct heat via an HVAC system during the winter months. By placing your humidor in an area that does not get blasted by ultra-dry furnace heat, you will greatly reduce the risk of your cigars drying out during the colder months of the year. Installing a humidifier mist diffuser in the room is another option, as it provides benefits for both cigars and human skin alike.
How to Avoid a Climatic Cigar Catastrophe
If you want to make cigar storage safety a priority, and climate is indeed a concern, then you will want to keep a close eye on the humidity within the room where your humidor box is stored.
Compared to a digital hygrometer for humidors, which focuses solely on humidor box internals, an all-in-one desktop hygrometer and temperature gauge will tell you everything you need to know about the climate of the room itself. Any sudden changes in moisture levels or temperature can be easily offset by either increasing or lowering the humidity within the humidor, and adjusting the thermostat and/or HVAC vent.
Something else to consider is the fact that not all cigars are constructed from the same tobacco. A moist coarsely wrapped Maduro or Corojo is going to stand up to a dry environment a lot better than say a crisply constructed Connecticut shade cigar or a Cameroon wrapper.
Delicate wrappers have even been known to crack and burn unevenly when smoked in excessively dry environments, so bear that in mind if arid or wintry smoking sessions are in store.
A few other things to keep in mind when protecting cigars from “climate change” are:
- Always make sure your cigar humidor box has a good seal
- Check your humidity levels regularly (both outside the humidor and within)
- Calibrate your hygrometer and test its accuracy annually
- Avoid unnecessarily opening the humidor lid
- Retain a monthly humidor maintenance regiment
While we can’t control the climate, cigar humidor owners can maintain a balanced environment for their smokes. It may take a little tweaking, the addition of a few helpful humidor box accessories, and a watchful eye, but staying on top of humidor humidity is a pretty easy task.
Just remember that no matter what you smoke, all cigars react to the environment around them. May it be a travel humidor case, a glass canning jar, a walk-in humidor, or a lunch bag, the conditions within these microclimates all influence how tobacco ages and dries.
So assess your environment, consider your house’s internal humidity and temp levels, beware of seasonal humidity and temperature changes, and keep a close eye on that forecast.Every climate is different, so if you feel that we didn’t cover a particular topic in today’s article, drop us a line. Here at Case Elegance, we’re always interested to hear your “burning” cigar and humidor questions. To learn more about humidor care and how to best maintain your cigars, check out our ultimate humidor guide as your next read.