cigars in humidor

Micheal Laffey

Guide to Using a Cigar Humidor the Right Way

Consider this your comprehensive guide to using your new humidor or a review of how they work to preserve your cigars. If you use a humidor the wrong way, you could wind up causing more damage and loss of flavor to your cigars.

Remember these tips when storing your cigar collection so that every time you break one out to smoke it, it is perfectly plump and tasty.

What Are Humidors?

Humidors are specially designed boxes and cases to store cigars, tobacco, and other similar products. These boxes are humidity-controlled and keep the cigars from drying out or becoming too moist. Tobacco leaves also expand or contract based on the relative humidity level, which can dull the flavor or create a harsher, unpleasant smoke on your palette.

How Does a Cigar Humidor Work

To give you an idea of how to use a humidor, it will help you to understand how they work. Below is an explanation of the four major components that work together in a humidor to preserve your cigars.

1. Humidifier

The humidification system is the most crucial component of the humidifier because it preserves the cigar flavor and texture. There are a few options to maintain the humidity level. You can use gel beads that release moisture, soaked sponges to keep the air moist, or floral foam blocks that slowly release moisture into the humidor. There are also electronic humidifier systems if you want to be extra fancy.

2. Hygrometer

The hygrometer is a mechanism that measures the humidity in the humidor so you can maintain the proper relative humidity. These can be digital or analog and display the relative humidity on the outside of the box.

3. Thermostat

The thermostat is another way to monitor the environment inside your humidor. The cigars must be at a specific temperature and the right humidity. The thermostat allows you to check on the temperature to ensure it stays at the ideal level for the cigars.

4. Spanish Cedar

The last important component is the material of the humidor. Cedar repels insects and pests and can help maintain humidity. People use cedar closets to protect their clothes, and the humidors work the same way. All of the best humidors are cedar.

Cigars on top of a black humidor

The Proper Way to Use a Humidor

To get the most out of your wooden humidor and keep your cigars plump and flavorful, follow these steps to use a humidor the right way.

Optional Step: Submerge it in Water

This step is up for debate among experts. Some recommend submerging your entire humidor into a bowl of distilled water. This step allows some water to soak into the cedar, which it can then release or hold over time to maintain humidity.

However, exposing the cedar wood to so much moisture can also damage it or shorten its lifespan. If you want to have your humidor for years to come, consider skipping this step.

1. Calibrate the Hygrometer

The first step is to calibrate your hygrometer. Wrap it with a clean towel or cloth soaked in warm water. The cloth should be wet but not dripping.

Leave the hygrometer wrapped for about 30 minutes to an hour until it reads 95-97% humidity. You only need to do this step if your hygrometer is a separate device from your humidor.

2. Adjust the Humidity

Now, it’s time to get the humidor interior to the proper humidity. To do so, place your humidifier device into the humidor with a shot glass filled with distilled water. Do not use tap water. Close the humidor and leave it for at least 24 hours.

Check the hygrometer once a day until it reads between 65% and 70%, the ideal temperature for cigar storage. This process can take between 2 to 15 days, so be patient.

3. Set Temperature

Once you have reached the proper humidity, ensure the thermostat reads right around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not stray more than five degrees in either direction if you want to preserve your cigars.

You can adjust the room temperature or place the humidor closer or farther from a window to help change the temperature, but keep the shades closed!

The Wrong Way to Use a Humidor

Just as there is a right way to use a humidor, there is a wrong way. The number one thing you should not do is put your cigars in the humidor before following the steps above. If you place them in before you achieve the right humidity and temperature, you risk ruining the cigars.

Why Humidors Are Important

Humidors are important because cigars are a sensitive item, easily affected by their environment and air quality. When you do not store cigars at the proper humidity and temperature, they lose quality.

But cigars, like fine wine, gain quality over time, so people want to keep them for years before enjoying them. The flavor becomes bolder and the smell stronger over time. So humidors allow cigars to age under the ideal conditions.

If not used, your cigars may dry out or become too moist, sometimes ruining them.

Dry Tobacco

Dry tobacco and cigars are the most common problems cigar enthusiasts experience when keeping cigars for extended periods. The tobacco leaves will dry up and shrivel if they sit in a dry environment for too long. When this happens, the cigars lose a significant amount of their flavor and aroma.

Flavor and aroma make cigars lovely and enjoyable, so you must store them properly and preserve the taste and smell. The longer they sit in a dry environment, the more flavor and scent they lose and less pleasant they will be to smoke.

Moist Tobacco

The cigar will likely not feel wet, but it will feel moist when it absorbs too much moisture. When the tobacco leaves and the cigar wrapper are exposed to too high a humidity for an extended period, it ruins them. One could argue a moist cigar is far worse than a dry cigar.

A cigar that has absorbed too much moisture from the air can grow mold, begin to rot, or even have a tobacco beetle infestation. These occurrences are a nightmare for any cigar aficionado, especially if you’ve been saving that special cigar for years.


Humidors are a wonderful device for cigar enthusiasts who want to hold onto their cigars until the perfect moment for a smoke. Don’t let your precious cigars suffer abuse by leaving them in dry or overly moist air.

If you are serious about your cigars, a humidor is a necessary device to have. Using a humidor allows you to get the most out of every cigar and have incredible smoking experiences.


Below are some commonly asked questions about how to use a humidor that may be helpful when setting yours up.

How long do humidors last?

Well-built home humidors should last you a lifetime with proper care and use. But there are also travel humidors, which typically last a few years because they go through wear and tear with travel.

How expensive are humidors?

Humidors come in a massive range of sizes, shapes, and prices. You can get a small desktop humidor for as little as $30, but you can just as easily spend up to $5,000 on a full cabinet humidor that will hold many, many cigars.

Should I keep my humidor away from direct sunlight?

Yes! Keep your humidor and cigars away from direct sunlight. First, sunlight will mess with the temperature and humidity levels, drying out the cigars. They can also push flavor out of the cigars, making them less enjoyable when it’s time to smoke them.