Purchasing a cigar humidor is a big deal, it signifies the first solid step into the cigar hobby! Though many don’t anticipate the maintenance that comes with this newfound hobby. The bulk of humidor maintenance consists of keeping things the right temperature and humidity, but most don’t realize a humidor should be properly seasoned before you can get into all the minutia of cigar storage.

SEE ALSO: How to Use Humidity Beads

Cigar humidor seasoning 101

Your introductory course in humidor seasoning will also be your final course, this only takes a few days and then you’re free to start the fun stuff!

Why do we need to season the humidor?

So you finally saved up and bought that fancy humidor you’ve had your eye on, you bring it home, fill the humidification device, and throw in a few sticks. Now, why isn’t your RH (relative humidity) where it should be??? The most likely answer here is that you didn’t season it!

Seasoning your humidor will allow the humidor to retain humidity better (e.g. when you open it up to smell the cigars every hour) as well as making for more consistent RH levels. A properly seasoned humidor can maintain RH better because the wood inside the humidor has absorbed the appropriate amount of moisture and will no longer fight the cigars for available humidity.

What you will need

  • Humidor
  • Hygrometer
  • Distilled water
  • Shallow dish
  • Sheet of Spanish cedar (preferred but not necessary)

Step 1 – clean the humidor

Grab a clean cloth or paper towel and give the whole humidor a good cleaning, just to be sure there’s no dust and debris lingering around – humidors thrive on cleanliness!

NOTE: Some will teach that you should wipe your humidor down with a wet cloth, allowing the wood to soak up water. We do not recommend this! What will happen is your wood will soak up some water, then quickly evaporate, giving false readings on your hygrometer, which causes people to put cigars in their humidors before they’re ready. The wood will also swell too quickly and can cause warping.

Do not wipe down humidor

Step 2 – Distilled water

Find a small, shallow dish and fill it with distilled water. The dish can basically be anything that will fit in the humidor, many people use shot glasses. Though, preferably, the dish should be more shallow – allowing more surface area for the water to evaporate. Ideally, the dish (and eventually, humidification device) should be placed on a sheet of Spanish cedar, preventing spills and/or mold from touching your humidor’s wood. This is not a requirement, just helpful advice.

Larger humidors with multiple levels may require additional water dishes. It’s a good practice to place a dish on the top and bottom shelves. Though, as humidity is heavy and falls, the top shelf is the ideal location if only one dish is used. The ultimate goal is for your humidor to read 80% RH – use as many water dishes as you see fit for your situation.



NOTE: Distilled water is used throughout the life of your humidor, so grab a gallon or two at your local grocery store. Make sure to find distilled water, not purified, spring, or any other form of water they’re making these days… This is simply the cleanest water for your humidor.

Distilled water for cigar humidor

Step 3 – The waiting game

Close all the lids, drawers, and any other openings your humidor may have and allow that water to soak into the Spanish cedar. This process may take anywhere from 3 – 5 days. The goal is to hit 80% humidity, if your humidor hasn’t reached this by day 5, you probably need to recalibrate your hygrometer.

Step 4 – Fill ‘er up!

Take out your bowl of water and replace it with your cigars and humidification device (we strongly recommend using humidity beads). It may take another day or so for your humidity to fully stabilize, as the cigars will now be soaking up a portion of the humidity (as they should). The ideal humidity/temperature ratio lies at around 64 – 70% humidity and the same for temperature (until you get more advanced with it…).

Seasoned cigar humidor

Troubleshooting

If your RH levels still aren’t consistent or out of range, check the following:

  • Hygrometer: Most often this is the issue. Don’t use the analogue hygrometer your humidor came with (or any analogue hygrometer, for that matter). Buy a digital hygrometer and make sure to calibrate it. Our recommendation is the Xikar Round Digital Hygrometer .
  • Cracks & gaps: humidity often escapes through gaps such as the analogue hygrometer that many humidors come with. Use canning wax to make a tighter seal.
  • Temperature: High temperature equals high humidity – correct temperatures lie between 60 – 70 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Air it out: If the humidity is too high, you may need to open the humidor for a half hour per day until it’s consistently where it needs to be.
  • Spanish cedar: If using a makeshift-style humidor, like a coolidor, make sure there is enough Spanish cedar – the equivalent to line the unit’s surface area.
  • Follow instructions: You may need to go back and make sure you’re following the whole process, e.g. make sure you’re not wiping the wood’s surface with water. Also, did you allow the humidor enough time to soak up the distilled water? (3 – 5 days)

Have anything you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below!

 

  • Chad

    Just a helpful hint (from painful experience). Do not use rubber cement or any other stinky glue when applying a Spanish cedar lining to a coolidor. The smell will never leave. I was told that aquarium glue is good, although I can’t verify this.

    • Sumatra Samurai

      True, I would recommend not lining a coolidor. Simply place lots of cedar sheets throughout the coolidor or fill the space with old cigar boxes. Or you could have custom build cedar shelfs that stack on top of each other 🙂