Setting Up and Maintaining Your Humidor
More Than a Box - a Humidor is an Investment in your Passion
What are the Basics?
Essentially, for your humidor to provide the best environment to store your cigars in you need to know some basics about your humidor;
Stable temperature between 18 to 21 Celsius
Stable humidity between 68% and 72%
Do not store it in direct sunlight / rooms that rapidly fluctuate in temperature
Season it properly and maintain the seasoning
Do not over fill it
Stable temperature and humidity work hand in hand; low temperatures will not achieve desired humidity; high temperatures create too much humidity and you can have a beetle outbreak on your hands. Direct sunlight and rooms that rapidly fluctuate in temperate (living room with a fire, the garage during summer/winter) the rapid temperature spikes do nothing good for your cigar or your humidor. Often the best place for your humidor is the closet in your bedroom or your study. Do not over fill it this is because you want the humidity and air to get around all your cigars as best as it can. Often we refer to it as "rotating our cigars" - once a month pull them all out (go "humidor diving") rotate them around.
Obviously a large-sized humidor helps; also one with dividers and trays become invaluable. You will probably find a hidden gem in the process at the bottom of your humidor.
Seasoning Your Humidor - using PG Solution (traditional style)
Before using your humidor for the first time, or if you've had your humidor for quite some time it might be a good time to re-season it.
We also recommend you use a Digital hygrometer (sorry but the analogue ones that came free with your humidor are pretty much useless) and also Boveda packs; the old style humidifier (florists oasis with PG solution) just doesn't cut it.
Do not use just distilled water - for seasoning you need 50% PG and 50% distilled water; the PG assists in retaining the humidity (moisture) in your humidor. Do not use a dirty or pre-used Chux Superwipe cloth - it may contain any number of "things" and you don't want them inside your humidor, trust me. Do not use tap water - again tap water contains a lot more than just water, it can be disastrous for your cigars.
Remove all the items from your humidor (dividers, old style humidifier, analogue hygrometer)
Remove all the cigars from your humidor (place them in a zip-lock bag or tupperware container temporarily)
Wipe down all of the internal wooden surfaces with the PG Solution so they are damp, but not soaking wet
In a small clean bowl, place some PG Solution and leave in your humidor
Place your Digital hygrometer in your humidor and close the lid
Repeat step 3, two to three times a day for 3-days
TCM Tip: You want the Spanish Cedar to gently absorb the PG Solution, do not apply too much at any one time
When your Digital hygrometer reads at least 70% humidity (a little higher is okay); at this stage remove the container of PG Solution (you can return it to the bottle for future use).
Here I wait a day or two; just let things settle down; check that Digital hygrometer, it may have dropped back a bit to around 65% humidity; that is okay.
Make sure you didn't over-moisten the wood, it's kind of obvious; you wouldn't put your cigars in there if you can see the wood is wet, right!
Return your precious cigar collection to the humidor, along with your Boveda packs and any dividers you may have.
The humidity will stablise after a week at most; remember your cigars may have dried out a bit if the humidor wasn't correctly seasoned to start with; so it may pull more humidity out initially.
We recommend Boveda packs as they are a 2-way humidity device; they can re-absorb humidity when there is too much; old traiditional humidifiers only ever give-out humidity and have no way of regulating how much they give-out.
TCM Tip: 69% Boveda's for humid climates (Auckland); 72% Boveda's for dryer climates (Canterbury/Otago).
Seasoning Your Humidor - using 84% Boveda packs
If you are not in a hurry, you can use Boveda 84% packs and place them in the humidor and leave them there for two-weeks to slowly season the Spanish Cedar.
For a small-desktop I'd use 2x Boveda 84% packs; medium 3x and large; 5x packs.
TCM Tip: Still use the PG Solution to moisten (season) the lips of your humidor if you use this method.
Maintaining Your Humidor
This is the key to long-term cigar storage without headaches; every 3 to 6 months you need to maintain the seals on your humidor (re-season them).
These are the "lips" of the humidor in the above picture; they touch against each other to form the seal.
When you close your humidor, if it doesn't make a sound (like there is resistance when it closes) then you are good.
If it goes "clunk" then you need to get your PG Solution and Chux cloth and gently wipe those edges (lips) of the humidor so they swell-up slightly and provide a perfect seal.
This helps to keep the humidity inside your humidor and of course keeps your cigars as perfect as possible.