A cigar man is a different calibre from the rest of the population. From the first day you smoke a stogie, whether its gifted or bought, you enter a new realm of living.
A cigar collection, in my opinion, compares to that luxury car that you love and refer to as a “she”. You like to make sure “she” is clean and waxed and never left in the sun for too long.
Cigars require a similar level of care. You need to maintain specific levels of temperature and humidity to preserve their taste and freshness. Otherwise, your beloved collection will dry out or become too moist, which are both bad for the cigar.
Ideal Conditions for Storing Cigars
A cigar is a tropical product. It thrives in tropical weather where both temperatures and humidity are high. Optimally, a cigar needs to sit in 70%-75% humidity and 68 degrees to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
A humidor is the ultimate place to keep your cigars fresh. All you need to do is monitor the hygrometer for changes in humidity and temperature and adjust accordingly.
Typically, cigars can survive without a humidor for up to 3 days. So, if you have just one cigar or a few that you can smoke within 3 days you don’t need a humidor or any maintenance.
How Humidors Work
A humidor works by not only storing your cigars but also maintaining the ideal conditions for your cigars to age perfectly. It contains a humidifier, a hygrometer, and cedar wood.
The humidifier is the source of moisture responsible for keeping up levels of humidity. The hygrometer is used to measure the levels of humidity versus the temperature to ensure your humidor stays within that sweet spot.
Most, not all humidors have a cedar interior. Cedar is great for absorbing and maintaining moisture. Spanish Cedar and American Red Cedar are great choices for humidors. In addition to maintaining optimal levels of humidity, the cedar also wades away weevils and infuses the aging cigars with a delightful woody flavor.
So, you find yourself in a predicament. You have cigars but no humidor. How can you properly store your cigars without a humidor?
How to Keep your Cigars Fresh without a Humidor
It is important to note that these options are only temporary. If your cigar tendencies develop into a hobby, you will need to purchase an actual humidor.
1. Tupperware and Humidification Pouch
Tupperware with humidification pouches can make for a great humidor but only if you have a few cigars to store. You can buy ordinary Tupperware from the store or use one from your kitchen. You must ensure that the lid is airtight so that moisture does not dissipate.
Buy humidification pouches from the cigar store. A humidification pouch is a small packet meant to maintain optimal conditions for your cigars on the go. These are the same pouches most online cigar stores use to keep your cigars fresh in transit. A single humidification pouch can keep 25 cigars moist for up to 90 days.
Clean and dry your Tupperware and ensure it has no funky plastic odor. Place your cigars and the humidification pouch inside the Tupperware and seal. Ensure you check on the cigars regularly to rotate them and air the Tupperware. For best results, use a propylene glycol solution.
2. Ziploc Bag and Sponge
A Ziploc bag and a small sponge can keep your cigars fresh for a couple of weeks, tops.
Again, this method only works if you have a few cigars. Take your cigars and place them inside your Ziploc bag. Wet, don’t soak, a small piece of sponge and place it next to the cigars ensuring they don’t touch.
Do regular checks on your cigars to rotate them and ensure that the sponge does not dry out.
You can also use the Ziploc bag with a humidification pouch.
A typical cooler can make the perfect humidor as long as the lid is air-tight. In fact, an ordinary cooler can be a great alternative to a humidor especially when you want to store cigars that cannot marry with the ones in your humidor. A well calibrated cooler can store cigars for the long haul.
A cooler, fondly referred to as a coolidor can store a good number of cigars. So, for such an investment, you may want to purchase a humidification unit and a hygrometer. A good humidification unit like the Cigar Oasis will keep your humidity optimal and circulate the humidity using built-in fan. One humidification unit can maintain up to 40 cigars. Ensure you have a hygrometer to monitor the temperature and humidity as well.
Alternatively, you can use humidification pouches to keep humidity levels perfect inside your coolidor. Humidification pouches are easy and need no maintenance. All you need to do is replace them every few months as soon as they begin to get firm and dry.
Key Points to Keep in Mind
Always use distilled water whether in your humidification unit or a sponge. Tap water will infuse your cigars with impurities that encourage mold growth.
- Unless you are dealing with a mold problem, do not store your cigars in the refrigerator. Refrigerators ultimately ruin cigars.
- Cigars that have dried out can be brought back to life by meticulous re-hydration. This is not a guarantee.
- Look out for over humidification. If you notice slight swelling at the foot of the cigar, you may have too much humidity. Airing the cigar for a few hours is fine. But if the cigar is soggy, it’s too far gone to rescue.
- A healthy cigar has a slight spring to it when lightly pressed. If the cigar appears to sag, bend or if it maintains the indentation, there’s too much moisture. If the wrapper makes a cracking sound, the cigar is dried out.
- Endeavour to balance the humidity versus the temperature for your cigars to age well. For every increase in humidity, the temperature needs to reduce in equal measure. For example, if the temperature goes up from 68 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, decrease the humidity from 70% to 68%.
The passion for a sublime stogie creeps up on you without your notice. If you have been bitten by the bug, don’t let your delicious treats waste away. As the adage goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way.