How to Store Cigars
If you’ve ever been to a cigar shop or lounge, you have no doubt noticed that the proprietors put a lot of work into displaying and storing their cigars. All of this is work is not just for show. Proper storage and care are essential to keeping cigars fresh and ready to smoke.
Unfortunately, many cigar smokers don’t know how to store cigars properly. As a result, smokers will reach for a premium cigar, only to find it dry and tasteless.
Cigars are like fine wines. They are both premium products, but the quality can be spoiled by improper care and attention. For wine, that means storing it in a dedicated cellar where light and temperature can be controlled. For cigars, it means controlling the humidity and temperature.
Several dangers can negatively impact your cigar collection. Mold and cigar beetle holes are the most damaging, but the most common cause of a cigar’s demise is it drying out.
When a cigar dries out, it can lose the oils that are responsible for its flavor. The result is a bland, harsh, unpleasant smoke. Keeping a cigar fresh means storing it at optimal conditions. In general, this means approximately 70% humidity, at 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
70% humidity will keep your cigar moist, but not overly spongey. You want to regulate the temperature and keep an eye on how the air responds to moisture at each different temperature level. Warm air retains more moisture than cold air. At lower temperatures, it is more difficult to maintain moisture. At warmer temperatures, moisture can become too easily absorbed.
There is more than one way to properly store a cigar. The most popular choice is using a cigar humidor. However, there are simpler and less expensive options too.
What is a Humidor?
Humidors are a popular choice for esteemed cigar smokers. They are essentially a humidity controlling device. If you keep more than a few cigars stored at a time, it is worth your while to invest in a proper humidor for your cigars.
Humidors come in all shapes and sizes. Small humidors will do the trick if you are only storing a handful at a time. They range from simple glass jars to walk-in humidors. In any case, they work the same way.
Some companies make travel humidors, made for your ventures abroad. However, if you prefer a simpler route, you can use an airtight Ziploc bag with a damp towel or sponge to accompany your cigars.
How Does a Humidor Work?
Humidors cultivate a sealed storage environment where humidity can be manipulated. For anything short of a walk-in humidor, this simply means having a sealed container with a humidifier. The humidor humidifier takes distilled water and disperses it throughout the container to create the ideal humidity level, 70% to 75%. This mimics the Caribbean climate where most tobacco is grown and cured.
While inexpensive and travel cigar humidors can be made from a variety of materials, the best choice is Spanish cedar. It has moisture-regulating qualities that help ensure the cigars are stored at a constant level. While a cedar humidor is the ideal choice, it takes some work to get ready. The wood needs to be exposed to moisture for the humidor to function as intended.
The most common way to prepare the cedar is to fill a shot glass with distilled water and set it in the humidor for 3-5 days. As the water evaporates, some of it will seep into the wood which starts to regulate moisture levels.
Aging Cigars in Humidors
Aging your cigar in a humidor can take it to the next level. The aging process looks different depending on the cigar type. To truly age a cigar, it must remain in the humidor for at least a year. The longer the cigar waits in there, the more the flavors will develop. The smell may change over time, but the flavors will only become more enriched.
Certain cigars aren’t meant to age, so we recommend you ask your local cigar expert if it’s a good idea for your selection.
Can Cigars Go Bad?
While you can leave a pack of cigarettes out for ages without consequences, cigars are a different breed. The premium tobacco that goes into them can go bad if not stored correctly. The most common culprits are mold and dryness.
Learning how to store cigars is crucial. Like a fine wine, you’re paying a premium price for a premium product. Just like wine, your experience can be ruined by improper storage.
How to Store Cigars Without a Humidor
The simplest and least expensive way to store cigars is without a humidor humidifier. One of the most common questions we get is, how long do cigars last without a humidor? In general, you can expect a cigar to stay fresh outside of a humidor for about three days. This can fluctuate depending on the average humidity of your region.
If you plan on smoking a cigar shortly after buying it, proper storage isn’t as crucial. If you’re smoking a large-ring-gauge cigar, the interior will be better shielded due to its greater mass. If you don’t plan on smoking it immediately and don’t want to buy a humidor box, there are other options.
One of the most common methods is to create a makeshift cigar humidor out of a sponge or a paper towel. To try this cigar storage technique:
- Put your cigar in a plastic baggy or airtight food container.
- Place a damp sponge or paper towel in the bag and seal it up.
- The concealed bag will pull moisture from the sponge or towel.
It’s not the most elegant solution, but it will do in a pinch.
How to Save Cigars With and Without a Humidor
If you notice a cigar is starting to dry out or mold is growing, you must act fast. If your cigar becomes too dry, you can try to rehydrate it in an electric humidor for at least 6 months. This should make it moist enough to smoke, but the flavor will ultimately be compromised. Once the tobacco oils are lost, it will never get back to its original form.
If you notice mold on your cigars, there is little room to save them. The best thing to do is discard the impacted cigars to prevent the mold from spreading. You’ll want to empty your humidor and give it a good wipe down for good measure.
Cigar Beetles Prevention and Treatment
Cigar beetles are a specific type of bug prone to infesting cigar storage. If you see just one, you likely have a cigar beetle infestation. The best way to prevent this is to keep an eye on your humidor regularly.
If you live in a warmer climate, you should especially look for cigar beetle holes. These bugs love humidity, so make sure your levels are staying regular. The main way to rid your cigars of beetles is to utilize the freeze method:
- Place all your cigars in bags. You can double bag them for extra protection.
- Seal the bag tightly to capture all the beetle remnants.
- Place the bags in your fridge for one day.
- Transfer the bags to your freezer for three days.
- Move the cigars back to the fridge for one additional day.
The cold climates should have killed all the cigar beetles by this point, making your cigars safe enough to smoke. However, if you do see holes in your cigar, they may be past the point of return. Now that you’ve learned the basics on proper cigar storage, you can choose a good cigar to smoke and store.
How does the Master Blender store his cigars? Find out in this video by the Master Blender himself Ernesto Perez-Carrillo: