Why is My Humidor not Holding Humidity?

Jeff Miller
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Maintenance

The first thing to check is how old your humidor is. Some manufacturers have a recommended expiration date for their products and your humidor may be in need of its yearly calibration. Plus, if there’s a significant temperature difference in the room you store the humidor and the room where you calibrate it, there’s another good chance for calibration to go wrong.

The next thing to do is clean out your humidor. Hardened cigar residue can affect the humidity of the humidor, so it’s important to clean it before you start calibrating it. Too much moisture can also be detrimental to cigars, so it’s important to make sure the humidor is only the right amount of moist.

You can use distilled water to calibrate your humidor. Place the humidor on a level surface to ensure that the calibration is accurate. Slowly add water into the humidifier and check the humidity inside the humidor a couple of times a day.

If the humidity is too low, open your humidor and place a moist piece of cloth inside it. If it’s too high, you can do the same, but this time place a dry piece of cloth inside.

Keeping the Humidor Sealed

If the humidor is not holding humidity, you should look to see if it is holding pressure. Depending on the type of humidor, your hygrometer should read about 70% humidity. If the pressure release valve (on the humidor lid) is sticking, or not working properly, you don’t want to add more humidity to your humidor. The pressure needs to be released so it will not damage your cigars.

If you don’t have a pressure release valve, your lid should fit tightly enough that it does not allow any air to escape from your humidor. If you’re using a humidifier, it may be too loosely placed in the lid. If you’re using a foam humidifier, your humidor may be too small or your foam humidifier may be too large.

Check to see if the foam humidifier is too large by taking the lid off and placing it in a bowl of water. If your humidifier is too large, the bowl will not be full of water (this is a good thing).

Other Common Humidor Issues

If your humidor is not holding the proper humidity, you will lose your cigars to mold in short order. There are a few reasons why a humidor might not seem to be maintaining the right humidity. Understanding these reasons will help you find the solution so your cigars aren’t impacted.

First, is you live near a major city with a hot summer and the humidity levels in your room are likely to drop lower than optimal. This isn’t something that can be fixed except by either moving your humidor or your home.

Second, is you’re using too much humidifier. If you’re using a device that adds moisture to the inside of the humidor and then measure the humidity of the device, the reading is going to be high. The reason for this is: moisture in the air is heavier than dry air. So if you put a device with moisture into an airtight chamber full of dry air, the moisture is going to remain on the inside. This will give the false impression that the humidity is higher than it actually is. The only solution to this is to read the humidity without anything in the humidor.

Dried Out Cigars

= Bad!

Nothing ruins a good cigar quicker than a dried out, ratty little stick. A dry cigar is hard to draw and tastes like dust or burnt, dry grass. It’s true that a mild drought, mild temperature, and repetitive opening and closing can ruin the best of cigars, but there are other culprits that can alter the humidity in a cigar’s environment.

Insufficient Humidification

One thing you might be doing is cracking the lid just a little too much. What many people do not realize is that while there’s no dust on the wood, the plastic is porous and letting in a ridiculous amount of air. Air holds heat, so the humidor will lose more moisture while having a high amount of air exposure to the cigars.

If you have a glass top or glass front humidor, it’s very important not to crack the lid open unnecessarily. You can also get a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. It’s a lot easier to monitor your humidity levels in a whiskey barrel humidor than it is to ensure you are not opening the humidor too much in a wooden humidor.

Wet Cigars

When you first purchase a cigar humidor, you should expect to add a bit more water to it over time as your cigars take up more space in the humidor. This means that most humidor humidifiers are primarily meant to hold a bit of water in a sponge, and once the water is gone the humidifier breaks down.

Your first sign of a broken humidifier will likely be your cigars taking on water. This occurs because the humidifier’s ability to hold water is gone, so the humidor is pulling moisture from within the cigars themselves.

To remedy this, you need to replace the humidifier. Depending on the type of humidifier, this could take as little as five minutes or as long as half an hour.

The main things to look for when finding a humidifier for your humidor are the amount of time and effort it takes to replace the sponge, how well the sponge holds the water inside, how much replacement sponges cost and what other features are available.

The choices include:

» A Humidipak (humidifier) is a plastic container that holds a sponge inside. This is the easiest to replace, but also the least effective due to the sponge drying out quickly and taking up space in the humidor.

Mold

If you’re not keeping track of humidity levels in your humidor, you may wake up one day and find yourself with a collection of moldy cigars. It’s not uncommon for humidors to lose humidity, but it’s also important to realize that humidity loss too far in either direction can be harmful to your cigars. Too much humidity can ruin wrappers, and is also the main culprit behind moldy cigars. Too little humidity can cause cigars to dry out and crack, but this does not usually immediately damage the wrappers. It’s impossible to predict the exact level of humidity a humidor will maintain, so even seasoned cigar smokers may experience mold on occasion.

After a cigar has been stored in a humidor for too long, the excess moisture can damage the wrapper and cause the tobacco to spoil. Mold can grow on the cigars or between them, making it nearly impossible to save your precious stash. While touching a moldy cigar can make you sick, you usually only need to worry about the first problem – moldy cigars.

Final Thoughts

Humidors are a necessary accessory for anyone who likes to keep their cigars fresh. If you choose to invest in a humidor, it should be able to properly maintain the moisture levels within it. If not, you’re likely to lose some cigars prematurely.

The problem could be that the humidifier is not working well, or the humidor is not properly sealed, or that there are leaks in the seal. If your humidor is not able to maintain the perfect moisture levels, we’ve outlined reasons for each problem so you can easily figure out the problem and fix it.

If you have your humidor for a long time, it’s easy to forget what was done to seal it in the first place. In this case, a little skepticism can go a long way. Check the seals before you presume that the humidifier is the problem.

Another thing you can do before applying any sealer is to wipe your humidor down with warm, distilled water. This will remove any surface dust and dirt, allowing you to apply sealer more easily. Dampen a cloth with distilled water and use it to wipe down the sealer as well.