- Humidity levels determine how long cigars can be stored and how they smoke.
- When your humidor runs too high, lowering the humidity is necessary for the health of your cigars.
- Aging cigars often requires a lower humidity level to slow the decay process.
- A quality hygrometer is a MUST when manipulating humidity levels.
- The type of humidifier on your humidor will determine how to lower the humidity.
When it comes to humidity levels, humidors should stay between 65 to 72 percent humidity. But that’s a wide range — especially when using a high-quality humidor — and at times you will need to lower or raise the humidity level depending on a number of factors and preferences.
Humidity levels in your humidor play a role in how well a certain cigar smokes, ages, and can affect the entire experience. For example, many aficionados recommend a lower humidity level when aging a cigar to allow the tobacco to mature. And that requires the ability to lower the humidity of your humidor.
Or your humidor might just be too humid, and you need to lower the moisture without disrupting the environment. Here we’ll take a look at the why and how of lowering the humidity levels of your humidor.
Why Lower Humidity?
There are two main reasons to lower the humidity in the humidor: your humidor is running too humid, crossing that 72 percent threshold. Or, you plan to store your cigars for a longer period of time, like during aging, and you require a consistently lower humidity level. Let’s explore each.
Your humidor runs too humid
A lot can affect the internal humidity of your humidor. Living in a humid environment, a bad seal on the humidor, too much solution, or overfilling. When your hygrometer consistently reads too high, you need a way to drop that humidity level safely. Otherwise, you risk mold forming on your cigars and a damper smoke when smoking them.
A lower humidity slows the natural decaying process of tobacco in your humidor. When aging cigars, a lower humidity allows the tobacco to mature without the risk of damaging the tobacco. This extra time in the slammer allows oils to concentrate, blend, and round out the flavor, creating a smoother smoking experience.
Cigars that do better with lower humidity
Lowering the humidity in your humidors can improve certain cigars more than others. Every cigar smokes differently, and you can adjust humidity levels of different brands, countries of origin, and types. For example, multiple experts in the cigar industry maintain humidity opinions on specific cigars:
- 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.
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.
Measuring Humidity with A Hygrometer
You need to accurately measure the humidity of your humidor to know where you stand and to observe fluctuations. Cue the 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.
There are many types of hygrometers. Humidors, though, rely on either analog or digital hygrometers. Digital hygrometers use sensors, electrical currents, and moisture-absorbing material exposed to the air to detect humidity saturation levels. This is relayed to the digital screen and provides you the most accurate reading.
At Klaro, we highly recommend the use of digital hygrometers. 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.
Hygrometers on lower-quality humidors often provide incorrect readings for two main reasons: incorrect placement on the humidor or malfunctioning from a bad seal on the device. The placement of the hygrometer is important, and its sensors should be found inside the humidor where they have appropriate exposure to the same air as the cigars. When hygrometers have a bad seal, outside air compromises the reading, so what the reading provides isn’t accurate to the inside of your humidor.
Lastly, you will likely hear you need to calibrate your hygrometer — especially when using an analog hygrometer. In general, we don’t recommend using analog hygrometers, and we don’t recommend calibrating your hygrometer on your own. Klaro humidors are carefully pre-calibrated before shipping to ensure the most accurate reading long-term. While many consider it commonplace to calibrate your hygrometer DIY, it’s highly unlikely you will be able to improve the accuracy on your own and are more likely to damage or disrupt your hygrometer reading capability.
Changing humidity with the humidor humidifier
Manipulating humidity levels is a key function of your humidor. This process will be different depending on the type of humidor and the humidifier inside. While many smaller humidors will have a fairly simple humidification system, larger walk-in humidors and humidor refrigerators will have far more complex humidifiers.
The humidification system in your humidor adds moisture to 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 humidifier, should allow you to accurately manipulate humidification levels.
The Klaro Hydro System incorporates a unique Hydro Tray filled with a humidor solution that, when exposed, increases the humidity levels of our humidor. The perforated tray 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 in Klaro Humidors
If you need to lower the humidity in your Klaro humidor, the process couldn’t be more simple.
- First remove your cigars from the box.
- 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).
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 the levels are still not equalized, 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. These steps involve common elements of most humidors: 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 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.