Why Do We Keep Cigars In A Humidor?
Cigars and pipe tobacco are humidified to keep the vital oils in the tobacco from drying out. Unlike a cigarette, cigar and pipe tobacco are delivery systems for a taste experience. That taste comes from the oils within. If the oils dry out, they can not be rejuvenated or re-humidified. Sure, the tobacco can be brought back to the proper humidity levels for a good burn, but they lose their oils and are nothing but tobacco leaves at that point. Smoking a cigar or pipe is ALL about the oils within.
Humidors have three purposes; function, form and style.
Cigars and other tobacco are hygroscopic in nature, meaning they hold and release humidity — sort of like they breathe. Does the humidor keep your cigars at your preferred humidity level and temperature. Perfect levels are considered 70% humidity and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Pipe tobacco is generally kept at 62% humidity. In almost all cases, temperature is controlled by the levels in the surrounding room. So, functionally, you want to select a humidor that provides a vessel that maintains a constant humidity level when properly operated. Most importantly, you want a unit that seals well.
Many don’t realize that what you keep in your humidor help control the constant humidity level as well. Keeping one or two cigars in a humidor designed for 100 cigars doesn’t work well. Each cigar in the humidor helps the others – it’s called synergy. Too few cigars in a big humidor leave too little bedrock for the rest to draw from — cigars like to be around more cigars.
As discussed under function, the size of your humidor is important. If you are a casual smoker and store only a few cigars, you’ll want a smaller humidor. If you collect cigars for aging or simply store a large number of cigars, you’ll naturally want a larger humidor.
Also, you have to decide what your purpose is for the humidor. Is it a travel unit to be used on trips and when you meet with friends? Do you need a unit that fits in the pocket of your golf bag? For some, a travel humidor never leaves their desk drawer; it is the best vessel for the cigars they have on hand regardless of whether it travels or not.
You may want a desk or table-top humidor for more long-term storage. Or, you may be a cigar collector, looking for a more substantial cabinet in which you can age cigars.
The material a humidor is made of is an important part of the form as well. The most common humidor is made out of non-aromatic wood. All woods are not the same. While you can use almost any wood to make the container, you should make sure it’s lined with the standard non-aromatic Spanish cedar. Aromatic woods will infuse the cigars with their odors over time and change the flavor of the cigars within.
Using wood is also important as it too is hygroscopic — it holds and releases humidity. If the internal wood is keep properly humidified, the cigars will most likely be properly humidified.
This is not to say that a humidor has to be made of wood. There are many other materials that, with a good seal, hold humidity fine. Glass or ceramic jars with a good airtight seal make excellent humidors. So too do certain plastic vessels — especially otter-style boxes. A word of warning on plastic though, if you chose a plastic container, make sure it does not emit an odor. Many people use coolers (called Coolerdors) and they typically emit a chemical odor which will infuse your cigars over time.
Your choice of humidor form will depend on what you’re using it for. If you are storing cigars on a desk at home, a wooden, glass or ceramic humidor is typically best. If you are carrying cigars to a round of golf or to an event, plastic travel humidors are wonderful — and protective.
This is where the catalogs come in handy. Some people just want something that works, while many want to match their furniture or use their humidor as an accent piece to the room. Humidors are available in as many finishes and styles as you can imagine. Picking that perfect unit will do nothing but enhance your love for cigar smoking.