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Cigar Storage
by Rafael Bernardo

Manufacturers recommend to store the cigars in a constant environment of temperature (61º-64º F or 16º-18º C) and relative humidity (65%-70%). These ideal conditions cannot be achieved naturally, and hence it is necessary to look for a means to properly store your cigars. Depending on the period of time that you want to keep your cigars, there are different solutions to store them, that are briefly explained here. There are a lot of web sites where you can find more detailed descriptions of what it is being said here. But in any case, never keep your precious cigars in the refrigerator: it is simply too cold and dry for them.

Short-term storage
Short-term storage can be accomplished in several ways. A simple and cheap method consists on keeping the cigars in a cedar tray inside a plastic container like a Tupperware. Put a humidification device (like a dampened sponge) in the container, but do not allow it to touch the cigars. As these plastic boxes are airtight, you have to check for mold quite frequently, to avoid a musty taste of your cigars.

Medium-term storage
For medium-term storage, it is advisable to look for a humidor box with a wooden interior. A humidor is designed to contain a moist environment without warping. The box has to be perfectly built, with squared and fitted seams. Gaps provide an exit for moisture. The lid should be heavy enough so as to keep the box shut tightly.

Cedar is the most suitable wood for lining the inside of a humidor, and it should be unvarnished. If you don't like the taste of cedar in your cigars, look for mahogany.

The humidification system should be capable of maintaining a constant level of relative humidity within the box with as little maintenance as possible. A hygrometer will help you to control the degree of humidity inside the box. Take into account that cheap gauges are quite inaccurate, so you will probably have to calibrate it from time to time. Check for instructions on how to do that at the Cigar Smoker's FAQ page.

When the reading of the hygrometer drops below what you consider a minimum acceptable humidity value, you have to add water to the humidification device. Be sure to use only distilled water, because it will not leave mineral deposits behind as it evaporates. These deposits can clog a humidification system, creating important performance problems.

When using a new humidor for the first time, it is advisable to humidify its inside prior to placing the cigars in it: break the new humidor in by letting its interior wood to absorb the moisture from the humidification device for a few days, and then introduce your cigars little by little, and observe the hygrometer reading. The cigars should humidify slowly to avoid the risk of splitting. Put the driest cigars as far as possible from the humidification system, to allow them to absorb moisture more slowly.

If your cigars are cellophane wrapped, it is your personal decision to leave it on or put it off, for a short or medium term storage: cellophane is actually quite porous and the moisture will penetrate the wrapper. But if you want to age your cigars, the cellophane should definitely be removed.

Long-term storage
Desktop humidors have usually been considered as nice pieces of furniture to use for temporary storing your cigar selections. They are not normally designed for long term aging and hence they will not function well as an aging vessel.

If you want to store a fair number of cigar boxes without investing a large amount of money in a cigar vault, a possible solution is to buy a big container like those used to keep food and drinks cool, and add one or several humidification devices according to its capacity. You can also line its interior with cedar sheets, or put some cedar shelves.

As these coolers are airtight, it is necessary to control the humidity levels very often. A practical solution to do that is to put inside the chest a radio-controlled hygrometer with an external alarm.

My Fridgeador
After several years of use, one of the compressors of my freezer/fridge combi failed, and the cost of installing a new one was not worth it, so I decided to buy a new combi and to keep the old one as my aging chamber or "escaparate" for my cigar collection.

Its measurements are 6.5' tall x 2' wide x 2' deep, with a total capacity of 365 Qt. (273 + 92).

External view

Internal view


I removed the two compressors and all the piping, sealing the corresponding holes, but I maintained the internal cabling for if I wish to install some electronics in the future.

Then I ordered some cedar-covered plywood to line the inside, as well as two solid cedar trays (for singles). I also bought two Oregon-Scientific cable-free thermohygrometers that, BTW, work very nicely.

I also took three transparent VCR-tape plastic boxes and drilled their lids, putting some Velcro tape on their other side, filled them with Oasis and added the 50% mixture of distilled water and Propylene Glycol.

Finally, I adhered two VCR boxes and one thermohygro inside the fridge, and the remaining box and TH inside the freezer.

Once the humidity inside the fridgeador was stabilized, I filled it up with my precious cigars... and then... you can see the results... 

Oasis blocks

Thermohygrometers

Fridgeador filled

 

Would you like to see my cigar boxes with a higher resolution?. Click here for details of the fridge contents (200 kB), and here for the freezer (124 kB).

 

 
     
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