If you have ever spent a Fourth of July weekend in the Midwest, or boiled enough pasta to feed fifty people, you understand the debilitating effects of humidity. Indeed, when the prospect of a cool breeze spells the difference between surviving the next ten minutes and giving up all hope, it is easy to understand how humidity can quickly ruin your day.
The old refrain, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity" takes on all new import as you melt into the parking lot of the local Piggly Wiggly store. While high humidity is a sticky, sloppy, and uncomfortable mess, low humidity puts you seemingly at risk of "meeting your maker" every time static electricity jolts your skin whenever you come within six inches of a fellow human being.
While humidity wreaks havoc on our ability to maintain our body's adequate comfort levels, it also takes a serious toll on inanimate objects as well. Think about it...if you are sitting on your couch, and in danger of changing from solid to liquid form owing to the high humidity...that vintage, first edition, Superman comic book on the table next to you is also experiencing a serious case of "the wilts."
Certain items are highly susceptible to being damaged, or completely destroyed, owing to the adverse effects of heat and humidity.
The Science of Humidity, and How your Humidor can Help
Bandied about with a frequency closely joined to the activities of the local weather barometer, the term "humidity" is mentioned far more often than it is fully understood by the people talking around the water cooler.
Simply stated however, humidity is the amount of the water in the air, which is describable in a number of ways, including: dew point, absolute and relative humidity.
- Dew Point-the temperature to which the air must be cooled in order for saturation to occur. The dew point measurement assumes no change in air pressure or moisture content of the air.
- Absolute Humidity-measures the mass of water vapor in any given volume of air. Typically measured as the density of water vapor in a given parcel that is normally expressed as grams per cubic meter.
- Relative Humidity-the amounts of water vapor actually in the air, which is divided by the amount of water vapor that the air can hold. Generally expressed as a percentage, relative humidity can be computed in a variety of ways.
According to the United States Geological Service, approximately 326 million cubic miles of water is contained in the Earth at any given time. This includes all the water in the oceans, lakes, rivers, under the ground, and locked up as ice sheets. Slightly more than 3,000 of these miles is comprised of water in the air, the majority of which is formed as water vapor, but it also includes clouds and precipitation.
What does this mean for your prized possessions, and how can your cigar humidor help?
Humidors can be the size of a large book on your desk, or can comprise an entire room that is used to house your cigar collection. Indeed, when it comes to selecting humidors, bigger budgets land larger humidors.
Regardless of their size however, each humidor performs the same task of regulating the relative humidity within the unit to keep your cigars at peak freshness. Equipped with a hygrometer, a device that measures relative humidity in the humidor, the cigar aficionado always knows the exact environmental condition he or she is working with.
Size does matter when it comes to having adequate storage capacity, however. As such, if you have personal items that are susceptible to the ravages of humidity and you want to provide a measure of protection to your personal property, you are only limited by the size of your humidor when casting about for things that might be protected within its environmentally controlled embrace.
Those things being said of course, if you plopped down a good chunk of change to transform your entire basement into a humidor, feel free to move your entire house down there until the humidly drops, but if you are like most people you will probably be dealing with lesser resources. Needless to say, you can still protect your important items, but you will need to scale your expectations to the size of your available space.
10 Things to Keep Safe in Your Humidor
According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), humans thrive in an environment that is somewhere in the range of 45%-55% relative humidity. The inside of your humidor allows you the flexibility to fine tune the relative humidity that attacks your belongings. Here is a partial list of items that would be well-served by storage in your cigar humidor.
Stamp Collection - as any philatelist will tell you, a stamp collection that has been subject to excessive humidity can quickly be reduced to little more than a pile of wilted paper, coagulated glue, and pretty colors. Maintaining their peak condition however, is easy with just about any sized humidor, so stamp collectors can easily protect their entire collection.
Books - according to the Art Institute of Chicago, the ideal condition under which to store books is on a sealed wooden surface at a relative humidity between 40% and 50%. The Spanish cedar that lines the interior of your humidor is therefore the ideal storage container for your special collection. As size will govern the number of books that you will be able to store, the humidor might be better suited to protect that rare John Steinbeck first edition, rather than your entire collection of Steven King novels.
Artwork - high humidity can wreak havoc on the paper or canvas of artwork. Additionally, sculptures that are left to suffer in humid conditions can crack, erode, warp, or experience color change, so in particularly humid conditions, your humidor represents a safe refuge for your important artwork.
Electronic Components - low humidly is as likely to damage electronic components as high humidly. Batteries, in particular, are subject to severe degradation in performance when subjected to extreme temperature variations. Also, when cold electronic parts warm up, condensation forms on the inside of the unit causing irreparable damage. To ward against this damage, storing them in your humidor is an ideal solution.
Comic Books - despite the rude things your dad used to scream at you regarding your comic book collection, comic books are big money depending on their condition. Safeguarding your vintage comic book collection, and potential investment, is crucial to proving your dad wrong. When it comes to paper and water vapor, you don't need to be told what a mess can result, so store those special collections in your cigar humidor.
Baseball Cards - another childhood diversion means big money for the adult who held on to them: baseball cards. Baseball cards can be truly valuable depending on their condition, and high humidity means a short lifespan for these cardboard-backed collectibles. Utilizing a cigar humidor will ensure the safety of your childhood passion.
Family Photos - an unregulated environment can cause you to lose priceless family mementos such as photographs. Storing your photos without a thought to climate concerns can cause images to crack or separate from the photo paper. While the digital revolution has limited the amount of photographic paper hanging from red-hued darkrooms, your cigar humidor can be used to safely store your USB devices that store your treasured memories.
Touchstone Newspaper Headlines - whether it was the attacks of 9/11, or the headline of the newspaper that featured on the day your child was born, newspaper headlines provide us a touchstone with important events in our lives. Keeping these keepsakes safe is easy when using a cigar humidor that will regulate the relative humidity surrounding these personal historical connections.
Vinyl Records - if you like smoking a good cigar while listening to that favorite Billy Holiday song on vinyl, keeping that legendary voice crisp and clear means making sure that heat and humidity are kept safely at bay. Heat will warp a record beyond recognition, and high humidity will play havoc with album covers and insert sleeves.
The Magic of Movies - if your family's 8 mm vacation videos never progressed much beyond putting them on a VHS tape, high temperature and humidity can quickly lead to a decline in sound and image quality. Indeed, CDs, DVDs, and cassette tapes of all types fare poorly in humid conditions leading to a loss of family memories and favorite movies. Whether it is your favorite copy of Super Troopers or Aunt Myrtle's trip to the Pocono Mountains, use your cigar humidor to protect them from the elements.