You will notice there are several factors to consider before lighting up a cigar. One of the key components to guaranteeing an enjoyable smoke session is cigar humidity. So you may be asking, “What is the best humidity for cigars?” When storing cigars you should adhere to the 70/70 rule. The 70/70 rule explains that the best conditions for storing cigars hovers around 70% humidity and 70°F. We will be detailing the best humidity levels for storing cigars, the ideal temperature range for storing cigars, how to deter mold from forming on cigars, and equipment needed to properly store cigars.
Cigar humidity matters
The first question that arises is, “What is the best humidity level for cigars?” There isn’t a definitive answer, but generally humidity should range between 62%-72%. Storing cigars below this range can result in dry and bitter cigars.
Conversely, over-humidifying your cigar will affect its draw or cause the wrapper can burst. It is important to note that tobacco contains essential oils and flavor. Tobacco is highly sensitive to humidity. Humidity imbalances cause cigars to lose qualities that make its flavor unique.
Temperature and humidity’s relationship
Temperature and humidity have an inverse correlation. Further expanding upon this relationship, we will define “absolute humidity” and “relative humidity.” Calculating absolute humidity is done by dividing the mass of water vapor by the mass of air at a given temperature. At higher temperatures air retains more moisture. Absolute humidity’s measurement is defined as grams of moisture per cubic meter of air (g/m3).
Relative humidity is the ratio of absolute humidity relative to the highest possible humidity based on the current temperature. When humidity reaches 100% the air moisture completely saturates the air, consequently causing rain because the air cannot sustain any additional moisture. Correlating this concept back to cigars, optimizing your cigar’s integrity occurs when storing them in 70% relative humidity. Thus, the 70/70 rule was born!
When factoring in the concept of absolute humidity in relation to the 70/70 rule, higher temperatures naturally sustain higher levels of moisture. Achieving equilibrium requires you to consider increasing temperatures warrant decreasing the humidity of the environment. For example, if it is currently 75°F you can lower the relative humidity to 65%.
Avoiding mold on your cigars
Excessive moisture in the environment encourages the formation of mold. Noticing blue, green or greyish specs on your cigar as it ages can signify mold. When molding occurs, the quality of the cigar is lost and irrecoverable. However, when inspecting your cigar for mold you should actively search for plume. Plume is natural byproduct of a cigar that appears crystalline with white or greyish coloring.
Mold usually occurs when cigars sit in humid environments for long periods of time, or when using non-distilled water in your humidification device. Humidity levels between 62% and 72% are optimal for cigars, but anything over around 75% will encourage mold growth.
Acquiring the proper tools to store your cigars
Traditionally, cigars smokers use humidors to store their cigars. In order to ensure proper function humidors require an excellent seal, a Spanish cedar lining, a hygrometer and a humidifier.
Finding a good seal
An excellent seal is important because if the seal is faulty then humidity will escape. If the humidity escapes, then your cigars will dry out. When testing desktop humidors a slight whoosh of air should sound upon dropping the lid closed. You can also test the seal by placing a dollar bill half inside the humidor and closing the lid. Attempt to remove the bill. If the seal is good, the resistance will drag the humidor several inches. If the bill slips without resistance, the seal is faulty.
Why Spanish cedar?
The exterior of your humidor is irrelevant, but the interior should be lined entirely with Spanish cedar. Spanish cedar works well in humid conditions because it absorbs moisture and retains moisture without warping. As an added bonus, cedar won’t cast negative flavors or aromas on cigars. Spanish cedar repels cigar beetles (a.k.a. tobacco beetles); that’s paramount, as an infestation of cigar beetles can destroy your collection. While extremely rare, beetles can hatch in your cigars, but they won’t burrow into the wood.
What is a hygrometer?
A hygrometer’s function is to measure humidity. This device ensures that your cigars are aging properly in your humidor by monitoring the temperature and humidity inside. To clarify this serves solely as a monitor, it does not regulate temperature or humidity. Hygrometers can be either analog or digital, but we recommend purchasing a digital hygrometer for simplicity.
In order to have accurate readings your digital hygrometer must be calibrated. In order to calibrate your digital hygrometer you must follow these steps:
- Buy a Boveda calibration kit, or place a Boveda pack inside a Ziploc bag.
- Turn on the hygrometer and place it the bag
- Close the bag and place it inside a drawer for 24 hours to limit external impacts (light, heat, etc.).
If your reading is a couple points off from what the Boveda pack details, then adjust the reading on your hygrometer. This can vary from model to model, so be sure to refer to your device’s instructions.
Choosing a cigar humidifier
A humidifier keeps the moisture and humidity within the humidor up to par. Once a humidor has been filled, the humidifier provides continuous moisture to the interior. This ensures proper humidification, and the Spanish cedar will absorb and release and excess moisture should the humidifier run low.
Consumers have access to a wide array of humidification options. Options range from florist foam-based blocks, to more complex pouches, beads, or gel-based humidifiers. Regardless of your preferences, make sure to read the instructions on how and when to replenish the units. Humidifiers will deplete themselves, so be sure to replace them as needed.
In conclusion, there are a multitude of factors to consider when accounting for proper cigar humidification. When in doubt, follow the 70/70 rule and consider the following facets when trying to achieve it: what are the best humidity levels for storing cigars, what is the ideal temperature range for storing cigars, how to deter mold from forming on cigars, and what equipment is needed to properly store cigars.
Need some cigars to fill your humidor? Check out our Top 25 Cigars of 2022.