Experts know how to store cigars, but what about the everyday person looking to enjoy the occasional smoke?
In the world of cigar smoking, there are casual cigar smokers, and then there are cigar aficionados. The latter can teach the former a thing or two about improving the quality of their cigars.
Even if you only smoke a cigar a couple of times a year, a little forethought can make the difference between an uneven and rapid burn or an overall enjoyable experience.
To put it simply, the best way to keep cigars fresh is to maintain the climate where the cigar was manufactured. This isn’t always an easy or straightforward process, but consistency is key.
These tips can help whether you’re storing cigars in a humidor or a ziplock bag.
1. Maintain a consistent humidity and temperature.
As mentioned in the introduction, cigars smoke best in the country they were made. For the optimal smoking experience, one could walk into a cigar factory and then go outside and smoke the cigar. This is neither practical or feasible.
A blanket rule of thumb in the cigar world is that most cigars fare best with a relative humidity of 70% and a temperature of 68 degrees. Depending on the season, these numbers can be challenging to maintain. Therefore, a range of between 62 and 72 percent humidity is acceptable.
You should try to vary the humidity based on the temperature. One formula experts recommend is to add one percent of moisture for each degree the temperature is lowered. For instance, if the temperature is now 67 degrees, your humidity should rise to 71%.
If you are spending a lot of money on a collection of cigars, look for guidelines based on where the cigar is made and work to keep the climate similar. Some cigars actually do better in drier environments partially due to weather and also due to how the cigar was manufactured. Cigars with thicker wrappers and more oils require less humidity.
2. Use a humidor for accurate storage conditions.
If you want to know how to store cigars at home, the most straightforward way is to buy a humidor. These boxes mimic the climate where cigars are made and can be tweaked depending on the amount and type of cigars you’re storing. They can help add necessary moisture and remove any excess.
Humidors are ideal for aging cigars and for keeping them fresh for short periods. Some newer cigars might require you to put them inside a humidor before smoking. If you notice a new cigar burning poorly, it could be that extra moisture was added in the factory to help keep it fresh on its journey to the cigar dealer. Too fresh of a cigar might need to stabilize itself, so put the collection inside the box, wait a week, then try again.
How to store cigars in a humidor:
- Only use distilled water inside a humidor. Tap water attracts mold and can cause mineral build up.
- Check the moisture levels inside the humidor weekly and inspect the cigars for any signs of mold.
- If possible, store the same brand inside one humidor. Mixing brands can affect the flavor because the oils blend and meld inside the humidor. This process is known as marrying cigars.
- Remove cellophane wrappers before storing cigars inside the humidor if you want the flavors to meld.
- Don’t stack cigars tightly on top of each other. Instead, stagger the rows to allow airflow between each cigar.
- Some experts suggest opening the humidor once a week for a couple of hours at a time to allow fresh air to get into the box. If you leave the box tightly sealed for long periods, the cigars can become musty smelling.
- Rotate the position of your cigars inside the humidor every six months so that the humidity is evenly distributed.
- Inspect the cigars every so often for signs of mold, cracking, or chipping. Squeeze the bottom end of the cigar to ensure it is still springy.
- Get an appropriately sized humidor depending on the size of your collection. You don’t want to overstuff or under stuff a humidor.
3. Purchase a humistat and a hygrometer.
Two relatively inexpensive tools that will help you store cigars and keep them fresh are a humistat and a hydrometer.
A humistat is a small humidifier that doesn’t require electricity to maintain a consistent humidity. Many of the cigar humistats are made of synthetic clay and will keep the relative humidity around 70%. Do your research and choose a humistat that makes sense for your budget and collection.
A hygrometer is a device that will show you the humidity levels of an area. There are digital and analog versions. If you are starting your cigar collection, you can save money by purchasing an analog hygrometer for a few dollars. Digital versions are significantly more expensive, but they are also more reliable and won’t require bi-yearly recalibrating.
4. Learn how to store cigars without a humidor.
A humidor is a box usually made of cedar or mahogany that is designed to store cigars and keep their moisture level consistent. You can pick up a humidor cheaply, so if you have a box of cigars, that is the way to go. However, sometimes you need to store cigars in a pinch and don’t have a humidor on hand. Perhaps you got them as a gift or on a whim.
Cigars don’t stay fresh for long. Sealed cigars will only last about a week outside a humidor. An opened pack of cigars stored in a ziplock bag will only last a couple of days without added humidity.
Storing cigars on the go:
- If you have an open package, put them in a ziplock bag or sealed plastic container.
- Saturate a clean sponge with distilled water and put that inside.
- Use one sponge per 25 cigars. If you are only storing a few cigars, cut the sponge into smaller sections.
Cigars stored this way should last between a month and a year. However, storing cigars in a humidor within a month of purchase is ideal.
5. Preserve cigars that have dried out.
It’s easier to revive a cigar that has dried out than restore one that has gotten too damp. Slowly add moisture back into the cigar by putting it into the humidor and gradually upping the humidity inside.
To avoid splitting the cigar, this process should take about six months if done correctly. You should note though that even if moisture is added back, the flavor and burn may still be compromised.
Swollen and damp cigars should be thrown out. Attempting to remove moisture from an already moist cigar can cause the wrapper to peel, shrink, and crack, which detrimentally impacts the smoking experience. You could also be exposing yourself to mold.
Here are two main factors to remember when storing cigars:
- Dry cigars will burn unevenly and fast.
- Damp cigars can be moldy, and their wrappers might split.
We are by no means cigar experts, but as storage experts, we know a thing or two about maintaining consistent temperature and humidity. Take care of your most prized belongings by taking the time to learn how to store them properly, whether that’s cigars or anything else. Good luck!