You should always calibrate a hygrometer for first use, and consider annual re-calibration. Most small and inexpensive hygrometers are only accurate to within 3%. Even the best factory calibrated hygrometers can be off by 1-3%. If you aren't sure how accurate your reading is, you could be reading 75% RH when you think you're reading 70%.
One method of calibration is the Boveda Hygrometer Calibration Kit. The Calibration Kit produces a 75% humidity environment for testing. To calibrate, just place your digital hygrometer into the included Ziploc bag, and follow the instructions.
The other method is the salt calibration method.
Remember most small and inexpensive hygrometers are only accurate to within 3% so do not be surprised if it reads between 72% and 78% RH. Another reason for the misadjustment, is that analog or mechanical devices can be grossly out of calibration due to vibration or movement during shipping.
It is exactly 75% RH within the confines of the bag due to the salt paste reacting with the air, and what your hygrometer reads differently is the amount of error.
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What to do about off-reading depends on the circumstances. If your hygrometer has an adjustment, then by all means try to tweak it to exactly 75%. You should repeat the Salt Calibration Test again after making any adjustments.
If your hygrometer doesn't have the ability to be adjusted and the reading is close, then don't worry about it. Just make a note that your hygrometer is X% off, either high or low. If the reading is grossly in error and you are unable to adjust it, then we suggest you replace it. Consider a good quality adjustable, digital hygrometer. Return to top
Humidifiers fall into two categories: Passive humidification, and active humidification.
Passive humidification is ideal for small humidors, consistently humid environments, or as a supplement to active humidifiers.
Active humidification is ideal for larger desktop or stand up style humidors, or environments where humidity fluctuates.
They come in a wide variety of sizes, scaling from a smaller unit to very large. They are electronic, and do require AC power. A variety of remote monitoring options are available. Most active humidifiers are only one-way, but they use electronic circuitry to monitor the humidity levels and keep them at optimal levels. Return to top
Lighters fall into three categories: fluid fuel type, soft flame butane, and torch butane. You should avoid using lighter fluid fuel type lighters will impart undesirable flavors to a cigar.
Soft flame lighters produce a soft yellow flame at low temperature. They are ideal for pipes or cigars. Due to the low flame temperature it is more difficult to make a mistake and scorch your cigar wrapper. Soft flame lighters are not ideal for windy environments.
Torch butane lighters are available in a single, double, triple, or quadruple flame. Torch butane lighters burn at extremely high temperatures (1,100 degrees Celsius and above), so they can light a cigar very quickly. Caution is required when lighting to avoid scorching the cigar wrapper.
Single torch lighters are ideal for lighting small cigars, or for burn touch ups.
Larger torch lighters will have larger fuel capacity, and are more suited for lighting larger ring gauge cigars.
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The three main types of cutters are guillotine cutters, scissor cutters, v-cutters and punches.
Scissor cutters and guillotine cutters function in much the same way. Both bring a straight blade down to cut off a portion of the cigar cap. Guillotine cutters may come with a single, or more commonly, a double blade. They are the most common type of cutters and come in a wide variety of finishes.
Punches come in a few different styles and diameters, from keychain bullet punches, and twist punches, to quadra multi-punches. A punch is designed to put a round hole into the cap without removing the end of the cap. Many aficionados prefer punches because it gives them greater control over the draw.
V-cutters look very similar to a guillotine cutter, but instead of cutting straight, it cuts a fixed depth notch into the cap of the cigar. In this way it's a hybrid of guillotine functionality and a punch. If a single cut provides insufficient draw, it is common to make a second cut into the cap to form an X.
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There is no such thing as a high quality, inexpensive humidor. A good humidor isn't just a box to store your cigars in; it is also an enjoyable piece of furniture. Look for a humidor with quality workmanship throughout; tight seal, excellent corner joints/construction, skilled hinge installation, etc.
A good humidor will be heavy and solid, and this is essential to prevent warping in the future. Remember a humidor endures a tremendous amount of stress. In the winter when the heat runs constantly resulting in an indoor Relative Humidity of roughly 30%, yet your humidor is near 67%, on the inside a tremendous strain on the wood and the joints of a humidor will occur. Lift out trays and movable dividers are a big plus when selecting a humidor, particularly if made of Spanish cedar.
In our expert opinion the most affordable option on the market is a humidor made with engineered wood and lined with Spanish cedar. All of our humidors are constructed this way, to bring you the benefits of Spanish cedar and affordable prices. We also carry high-end humidors (Adorini) that use similar construction methods, but contain much better materials and impeccable craftsmanship.
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The first step is to make sure you have an adequate amount of humidification. If you are running a single passive humidifier in a larger desktop humidor, you may find that you need to add an additional humidifier or Boveda packs. This is especially true in the winter months when ambient humidity levels are very low.
If you have sufficient humidification, and still find you cannot maintain humidity, it may be time to re-season.
It is a good idea to temporarily store your cigars in a sealed plastic container with a passive humidification device (puck, gel, beads, Boveda pack) until your humidor has completed re-seasoning.
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It happens to the best of us. Sometimes cigars have been left in a travel case, and forgotten about for a few days to a week. Someone forgets to recharge their humidification device in a humidor and the RH drops for an extended period of time. You're left with dry cigars.
Not all dry cigars are going to be recoverable. Even if they recover, it's possible they will have lost some of their flavor complexity.
The key to recovering dry cigars is time. If you try to rapidly humidify a cigar, you will most certainly end up with a flaking, split, or burst wrapper. The more careful you are with the recovery process, the better results you will achieve.
The goal is to raise the humidity of the cigar a few percent at a time over the course of several months.
Boveda makes a Dry Cigar Recovery Kit which provides a lot of the tools you will need to attempt recovery.
This is one of the most controversial topics for cigar aficionados. Cellophane is a breathable plastic membrane designed to provide several points of protection for your cigar. The most important thing that cellophane does is protect your cigar from physical damage.
The foot and wrapper of the cigar can withstand being dropped or brushed against other cigars.
Cellophane also reduces the rate at which ambient air is exchanged with the cigar. This benefits you by reducing the humidity recovery time for a cigar when it is taken out of a humidor.
For long term aging you may want to consider taking the cellophane off. This will increase the ambient air exchange rate with the cigar which is a major component in the aging process. Just make sure to store the cigars in a secure location in your humidor.
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Tubos provide great physical protection for your cigar, and many aficionados like to age their cigars in tubos. It's a good idea to take the cap off your tubo to let the interior humidity stabilize, even if you intend to keep the cap on for an extended period of time.
Often tubos come from over humidified environments, and keeping the cap on could potentially cause significant mold growth and damage to your cigar. Return to top
The primary reason people look at freezing cigars is tobacco beetles. Tobacco beetles and their eggs are an unfortunate reality of tobacco growing. Most manufacturer's outside of Cuba run their finished cigars through a cooling and freezing cycle in order to kill off tobacco beetle eggs before the cigars ship.
Unfortunately cigars can pick up beetle eggs in distribution and also from other cigars when sitting in a store.
Tobacco beetle eggs will hatch when the temperature rises above 22 Celsius (72 F), so many aficionados will keep their humidors at 18 Celsius (65 F) or below for safety.
If you do decide to freeze your cigars there are some best practices to follow.
Any time you introduce new cigars to your humidor there is a potential for beetle eggs. The only long term solution is to ensure your temperature levels are consistently maintained.
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A cigar with too much moisture will not burn properly. Some of the symptoms you may experience that are related to humidity:
A dry cigar will burn too hot. Without the proper level of moisture, the combustion temperature of your cigar will be too high and the smoke will be hot and acrid. The smoke will become aggressive and you will lose many of the subtle flavors that a properly humidified cigar will provide.
Dry cigars also lead to the early evaporation of their essential oils and reduce their overall flavor and aroma.
It is a good idea for newly purchased cigars to rest in your humidor for a few weeks prior to smoking. This allows the cigars humidity on the wrapper and filler to stabilize from the environment it was previously in. Return to top