Every cigar aficionado — whether and old hand or a total novice — must face the issue of cigar storage once their cigar collection outstrips what they can reasonably smoke in a few weeks. Storing cigars at the right temperature and humidity level is crucial for their longevity, and maintaining both can be a challenge.
The challenge of temperature control is also different depending on where in the USA you live, too. It’s a big country with climates of high humidity and desert dryness as well as extreme heat and cold at any given time of year. But don’t worry! You can keep your cigar humidor under ideal conditions with some close attention and a willingness to experiment.
The 70/70 Rule
When it comes to storing cigars — whether in a tiny desktop humidor or a large walk-in humidor for businesses — you want to keep conditions similar to those found where the cigars were made. Whether you have real Cuban cigars or any others from the Caribbean, that means a warm, humid environment. The rule of thumb is that premium cigars should be kept according to the 70/70 rule: 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent relative humidity. This stable environment will keep your tobacco in prime condition for a long time, so you can enjoy your favorite cigars whenever you like, without worrying about insect damage or mildew and decay.
A good humidor will provide a humidifying device to add moisture to the sealed environment to keep your cigars from drying out. This could be via a sponge soaked in distilled water or propylene glycol, or it could be using a digital hygrometer that automatically controls the humidification system and air circulation. Humidors are designed to make it easy to control relative humidity levels for your cigars.
But what about the temperature?
Temperature control often comes in second to moisture level when adjusting a humidor, but ignoring temperature entirely is a big mistake when it comes to keeping modern and vintage cigars in optimal condition.
The Importance of Temperature Control in Your Humidor
There are four big reasons to keep an eye on the temperature in your new humidor:
These creepy-crawlies lay eggs in tobacco leaves with the hope that larvae will hatch and be able to fee on the leaves until they grow up to continue the lifecycle. You’ll never have to know they’re there as long as they don’t hatch. If they do, you’ll have an infestation that could wipe out your entire cigar collection — not to mention completely grossing you out when you see tiny, squirming larvae in your humidor.
Tobacco beetles thrive in higher temps and excess moisture. If your humidor’s internal temperature rise above 74, you could have a hatching situation on your hands. For this reason, it’s critical to keep your humidor cooler — preferably at 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mold and Mildew
It’s a sad fact of life that mold and mildew spores are everywhere — you couldn’t eradicate them if you tried. The trick is to keep them from growing and multiplying into a problem big enough to kill your cigar collection. Like tobacco beetles, mold loves warmth, and a too-hot humidor is a perfect place to encourage its spread. This is another reason to make sure your humidor stays cool in the summer.
Flavor and Aroma
Though it is possible to freeze cigars to kill off tobacco beetles and mold spores, many cigar aficionados don’t recommend the practice. Why? Because too-cold temperatures can significantly damage the flavor and aroma of your cigars — which is the whole reason you enjoy them in the first place. This is because the delicate essential oils in the tobacco leaves can be damaged in extreme temperatures in either direction. Hot temps break down the oils and ruin the flavor, while cold temps can dry out cigars and cause them to burn too hot and smoke poorly. Freezing temperatures can cause the formation of microscopic ice crystals, making these problems even worse.
Finally, it’s important to remember that temperature and relative humidity are related. If the temperature in your humidor goes up unexpectedly, the relative humidity will drop if you don’t make adjustments to the moisture content. This is because hot air can hold more water, so rising temperatures basically create more room for water, which you will need to fulfill to maintain the higher rh.
Conversely, a drop in temperature will cause the relative humidity to increase if you don’t do anything to adjust the humidification device for lower humidity. For this reason, stable temperature control is the name of the game when it comes to keeping cigar smokers happy with their cigar storage.
Ways to Keep Your Humidor at 70 Degrees
Now that you have firm grasp on exactly why you need to keep your humidor at 70 degrees (give or take a few degrees based on your preferences), it’s the to make temperature control a priority. Try these tips to make sure your humidor maintains a steady temperature all year long.
- Keep Your Humidor out of Direct Sunlight: UV rays will speed up the breakdown of essential oils in your cigars, so keeping them out of the sun is always important. Just because the sun doesn’t shine through the glass door doesn’t mean it’s not a problem, though. Sunbeams on your humidor for even a couple hours during the day can significantly raise its temperature, and daily fluctuations of this kind can make it impossible to keep the humidity levels steady. Keep your humidor in permanent shade for best results.
- Keep Your Humidor Away From Heating and Air Conditioning Registers: Like the sun, your home’s HVAC system can do a real number on your humidor. Sure, you need your heater and air conditioner to keep your house comfortable, and overall this is a benefit for your humidor. But it’s best to avoid the fluctuations that occur near the vents when the system is in action. Instead, keep your humidor as far from these as possible, all the while avoiding exterior walls, which may suffer their on temperature fluctuations if your house isn’t well insulated.
- Try the Basement: If you live in a warm climate, your basement may have cooler temperatures year round. Unfinished basements without heating and cooling are likely a steady temperature all the time since it’s insulated by the earth around it. A basement will likely be too cool in northern climates but could work well in the South, where keeping cigars at 68 to 70 degrees requires cooling, not warming.
- Consider an Ice Pack: In extreme heat, you might try to cool down your humidor by covering it with a towel and placing an ice pack on top. You’ll need to make sure condensation isn’t soaking through, but in a pinch this could help keep temperatures at an acceptable level during a heat wave.
- Turn off the Cooler: If you find your cigar collection getting too cold in a cigar cooler, turn that function off for the winter. This feature may not be appropriate for year-round use depending on where you live, so be sure to keep an eye on it and adjust accordingly. Cigar storage is highly location-specific, and you’ll need to experiment with your equipment and check it regularly to make sure all is well.
What About Northerners?
If you’ve noticed that the above tips are mostly about keeping your humidor cool, you’re right. The problems that come for cigars when the temperatures are above 75 are pretty intense, so a lot of effort goes into keeping tobacco beetles and mold at bay with cooler temperatures.
If you live in a cold climate, however, this may never be your biggest concern. For northern cigar lovers, bringing a humidor up to 68 or 70 degrees can be a challenge, especially in the winter. It’s not always practical or affordable to heat your house to 70 degrees during a deep freeze or blizzard, especially when you can just put on another sweater and go about your way, content in your hardiness.
For your cigars, though, a cold house can lead to the wrong humidity levels, and that can mean cold and clammy cigars that develop musty mildew or dried out sticks that will burn too hot and lose their flavor by spring. Though it’s possible to store cigars in cooler temperatures, you’ll miss out on the aging process that makes your cigars taste even better when you store them for long periods.
Fortunately, it’s possible to buy a humidor that works in all climates. The NewAir CC100H comes with a built-in heater that will help you maintain your cigars at a perfect 70 degrees all year long. It’s the perfect solution for anyone in a climate with four seasons: The heater keeps your collection ready to smoke during the winter while the cooler brings down the temperature for the summer to protect your precious cigars. Like any great humidor, it also has a tight seal to keep humidity levels even and a hygrometer to help you track your relative humidity. This humidor truly does it all, in any environment.
Whether you are fighting the heat or want to keep your cigar collection at an optimal 70 degrees in the middle of winter, remember that temperature control is just as important as humidity for cigar storage. Avoid temperature fluctuations and keep an eye on your thermometer and hygrometer, and you can enjoy perfectly aged, flavorful cigars for years to come.
Climate Controlled Humidor | NewAir CC-100H
- • Holds up to 250 cigars with ease
- • Spanish cedar trays resist mold and mildew
- • The only humidor that heats and cools for precision temperature control