Like clockwork, four times a year when the seasons change here in Massachusetts, we're inundated with worried looking customers seeking out the most "accurate" digital hygrometers. They woefully explain how their humidors are not functioning and their cigars have gone "dry". While it might seem arrogant, I'll say it anyways: Half of you people wouldn't know a properly humidified cigar if it bit you in the arse. Got your attention? Good...now maybe you'll keep reading and learn something.
The scenario always goes something like this-
Customer: "My humidor just isn't working."
Me:" What makes you think that?"
Customer: "Well the Hygrometer says it's only 50%."
Me: "Well how are your cigars smoking?"
Here's the problem...and I'm gonna get myself in trouble with hygrometer dealers here but I just don't care....Hygrometers don't work. The analog ones with the dials aren't worth the powder to blow them back to hell. They are cheap fifty-cent pieces of crap from China and they can be anywhere from 20% to 30% off right out of the box. Believe me, I've seen it.
The Digital Hygrometers are somewhat more accurate but not by much. 10%-15% off is the norm. Of course you can calibrate them with the "Salt Method" which involves sealing the hygrometer in a zip lock bag with moist table salt look for a specific humidity value....but why bother futzing with a contraption made from recycled Burmese Soda cans by Communists? The goal here is to enjoy your cigars.
When I grab a perfectly humidified cigar off the shelf and show it to a customer they are almost always surprised at how "dry" it feels to them. I cringe in horror every time a well intentioned customer squeezes the head of a cigar to "See if it's dry and makes a crackling sound" or cuts the head of a cigar and complains that it is dry because the cap didn't "come off in one piece. I'm equally flummoxed when a customer brings in a humidor to be "Fixed". Inevitably he or she will bring in toting a humidor with a Hygrometer that reads "40%" and is filled with expensive cigars that are covered in green fuzz. That ain't "plume" folks!
Look...it is very difficult to completely dry out a cigar. A truly dry cigar will have a wrinkled look to it. It will smoke harsh and burn fast. your cigars aren't going to dry out like that in a humidor with the proper sized humidifier that is filled weekly with distilled water. unless your humidor is a colander. So stop worrying! More cigars have been destroyed by judicious humidification and, frankly, obsessive compulsive behavior than by drying out.
There's an easy solution...and please don't think this entire blog was a plug for a product...I could have people lined up buying humidor accessories 24-7 from here to the Berkshires and still go broke in a week. The answer is Boveda Packs. They have completely taken the worry out of humidification. These are brown paper pouches filled with a mixture of distilled water, Polypropylene Glycol and a certain amount of salt. The amount of salt, which is "Hydroscopic" meaning it absorbs moisture and determines the humidity level of the product. They come in 65%, 69%, 72%, 75% and 84%. Use the 65% if you have darker cigars like Maduro and Corojo etc. the 69% is a good general all around humidity if you have a mix of different types of cigars. the 72% is good for lighter wrappers like Connecticut or Ecuadorian Connecticut or Cameroon type. the 75% is great for reviving very dry cigars, and the 84% is used exclusively for seasoning a new humidor.
The number of packs needed is based on the capacity of the humidor, not the number of cigars in it. 1 Boveda pack for each 25 cigar capacity. So if you have a humidor with a capacity of 75 cigars, you use 3 packs. 50 Cap would be 2 packs....even if you have a hundred capacity humidor with only 50 cigars in it you still need 4 packs.
Take the plastic off the brown wax-paper pouches and throw them it in your humidor. Top, bottom, side under or over the cigars it doesn't matter. Close the lid and walk away. When the pouches start to get "Thin"...just before they get hard (2-3 months) throw them out and replace with fresh packs.Easy. Oh...and use these in place of your original humidifier not in addition to. And throw that hygrometer away...