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What is the best type of humidor?

One of the characteristics of cigars is their tendency to absorb odours from their surrounding environment. For this reason, they should be stored in a space that is neutral and odour-free. Spanish cedar is the material most often used for the making of cigar boxes. In part, this is because it has properties akin to the odour of tobacco, and, in part, it is because the nature of its wood repels lasioderms. Today, cigar boxes made of synthetic materials are available. Some judge these to be just as effective as wood. Unlike Perspex, however, wood possesses a further regulatory property in that it absorbs water and thus contributes to the stability of the humidity level.

What kind of humidor should you choose? The answer will depend above all on your consumption. There are humidors on the market with a capacity of 50 to 250 loose cigars; but you can also find much larger units that allow you to store dozens of cigar boxes, or even more. If you wish to age your cigars — for, after a few years in the humidor they loose their greenness and sometimes their bitterness, while their flavour gains in fullness — it is preferable to use a type of humidor that allows you to keep your cigars in the original boxes.


Temperature and relative humidity are the two most important factors when it comes to conserving cigars at their best. If cigars are kept in less than optimum conditions they can easily spoil beyond repair. (The types of damage and their consequences are explained below.)

It is generally agreed that ideal conditions are constituted by a temperature of between 64° and 68°F and by a level of relative humidity in the area of 70%.

This agreement is not quite unanimous however; for certain aficionados prefer their cigars a little more humid, even if this implies that they must be relit more often. Such smokers maintain humidity at a level of between 75 and 80%. Of course, for other cigar lovers, the opposite is true. There is no absolute universal rule.

Some smokers trust entirely to their own judgement when it comes gauging the humidification of their cigars and do not rely on measuring apparatus. Such smokers will inspect their humidor regularly, squeezing their cigars to judge their moisture. A correctly humidified cigar should be elastic and not brittle. You should be able to squeeze a cigar quite strongly and have it spring back to its original shape.

How can you be sure that your hygrometer readings are correct?

A hygrometer may very well register 75% even though the actual humidity level is in fact entirely different. Even an electronic hygrometer can be out by 10% or more. As a result, you may think that your cigars are stored at the correct level of relative humidity, whereas, in reality, it is only 65%.

While not wanting to be unnecessarily alarmist, if your cigars appear to be altogether too dry, or too soft, despite the fact that your hygrometer registers 75%, you would do well to ensure that your instrument is properly calibrated.

There are two ways of calibrating a hygrometer:

The Salt Method

  • Fill a soft-drinks bottle cap — or another suitably small container — with salt
  • Moisten the salt with just enough water to form a paste (but not to dissolve it)
  • Place the cap along with the hygrometer in an air-tight plastic bag
  • Seal the bag hermetically, ensuring that you enclose enough air for circulation between the hygrometer and the cap to be possible
  • Leave the bag somewhere relatively warm for six to eight hours
  • The hygrometer should now read 75% relative humidity

If this is not the case, correct the hygrometer. If the instrument is not regulable, you will have to compensate for the difference every time you check the humidity.

The Face Flannel Method

  • Soak a face cloth with water
  • Wrap the hygrometer in the wet flannel
  • After about ten minutes the hygrometer should register 99% relative humidity.

If it does not, correct the hygrometer. If the instrument is not regulable, you will have to compensate for the difference every time you check the humidity.

What happens when conservation parameters are not respected?

We have discussed the best conditions in which to keep cigars. What would happen to them, however, if the temperature and relative humidity were to differ significantly from these ideal values?

Excessive heat
A temperature of above 68°F is favourable for the proliferation of lasioderme serricorne, an insect that feeds on tobacco and is fatal to cigars. There is no way of knowing whether your cigars contain lasioderme eggs or not; but, just in case they do, it is preferable to avoid keeping them at above the recommended temperature.

If you should observe any 2mm-long, tobacco-coloured insects, or if you should notice holes appearing in your cigars, it is probable that lasiodermes have set up home in your humidor. The insect’s presence is also betrayed by the presence of tobacco residues or of a fine powder at the bottom of your humidor or your cigar boxes. If you are in any doubt, tap your cigars vertically — bottom down. If a fine powder comes out, then the pest’s presence has been confirmed.

Excessive cold
Low temperatures are just as bad for cigars. Below 61°F, the aging process — slow fermentation — is halted. Even lower temperatures tend to kill a cigar’s aromatic potential and can also cause physical damage due to variation — breaking of the warper.

Humidity variation — too dry
Cigars do not release the fullness of their potential when the humidity level is too low. Being too dry, it will burn too quickly, its warper will be inclined to detach itself and its flavour will be unpleasantly bitter, losing all its well-rounded fullness. A cigar that has dried out is ruined, for the oils which lend it all its aroma will have evaporated.

Humidity variation — too damp
A cigar that is too moist will not warm properly and will burn badly. It will be inclined to go out frequently; it will not draw properly; and, where the humidity is extreme, mould will develop on its warper.

Solutions to the problems

Temperature variations
In winter, the humidor should be placed in a heated room away from any direct heat source. In summer, it should be located somewhere cool or, if necessary, somewhere air-conditioned.
If lasioderms should appear, appropriate steps must be taken immediately. The first thing to do is to sort those cigars that are still smokable from those which have been too badly spoiled and must be disposed of. Freezing is one radical way to destroy lasioderms in all their various forms — adult, larval and eggs. Place your cigar boxes in hermetically sealed bags so as to avoid your cigars being tainted by odours. Evacuate as much air as possible from the bags before sealing them. In order to avoid an over-violent thermal shock, place the contaminated boxes first in a refrigerator for twenty-four hours before putting them into the freezer for three days. Finally return them to the refrigerator again for another twenty-four hours.
You should also proceed to clean out your humidor meticulously, because it will certainly still contain eggs. Scrub every part of it carefully with water and fine brushes, paying particular attention to corners and angles.

Humidity variations — too dry
Check that your sponge is always sufficiently soaked in water. If you are not able to reach or maintain a minimum level of 70% relative humidity, place a small bowl of demineralised water in the humidor to enhance the effect of the sponge.
Propylene glycol has a natural propensity to maintain a level of humidity at 70%, so you may soak your sponge in a mixture of 50% propylene glycol and 50% distilled water to help maintain the required level.

Humidity variations — too damp
Should any mould appear, take out all your cigars and give them a thorough brushing. The same should be done for the inside of the humidor. Care should be taken to ensure that the humidor has not acquired a bad smell; air it thoroughly before replacing the cigars. Do not add any water for the time being, but add some propylene glycol to help stabilize the relative humidity.


Never soak the humidifying sponge in ordinary tap water as this will favour the advent of unwanted odours as well as causing calcium to be deposited. You should only ever use distilled water for the humidification of your humidor.

Inspect your cigars regularly for any trace of mould or for any sign of parasitic infestation. You should also subject the interior of the humidor to occasional inspection.
When cigars are being stored loose, it is preferable to rotate those on top with those underneath from time to time.

Keep an occasional eye on the humidity level and correct it as required. Use propylene glycol to stabilize it if necessary.

For more information, don't hesitate to write at


Cigar closet equiped with an electronic humidifying device, fan, tilting racks and display units, lock, digital hygrometer, anti-UV glass, for professional use or big consumers.
Dimensions: 24" X 20" X 6'
capacity: 70 to 90 boxes
Suggested price: CHF 3575


Gastronomical large humidor made with palissander, including 2 sponges, 2 stages, dividers, 1 hygrometer, 2 keys
Dimensions: 17" X 11" X 7.5"
Capacity: 250 vitolas
Suggested price: CHF 995


Griffin's personal humidor made with inlayed maple, including 1 bottle, 1 sponge, 1 divider, 1 key.
Dimensions: 12" X 10" X 4.5"
Capacity: 50 à 75 vitolas
Suggested price: CHF 1175




Zino travel humidor (leather), magnetic lock, high standard finish
Dimensions: 9" X 9.5" X 2"
Capacity: 10 vitolas
Suggested price: CHF 325

Tap your cigar's foot. If it drops some dark tobacco powder, your vitola is infected.


This is a cigar (tubos) brought back from Cuba, and which did not received a preventive freezing. Four months later, at the opening of the tube, bugs were at work, digging tunnels. Notice the hole in the wrapper and the tunnels in the foot.


Thick gauge aficionados, be really careful! Since the use of genetically modified tobacco seeds in certain areas of the world, a new variety of the tobacco bug appeared: Lasioderma Gigante. For your safety, leave alone your favourite double coronas, cañones or big sticks and come back quickly to smaller cigars. ;-) Oh my... now you can even get counterfeit bugs... What a life! ;o)

(Yep! You're right: The Shortcut team is not always serious — by chance!)