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Frequently Asked Questions for Humidor Maintenance

 

Q1. What sort of preparation is necessary before filling a new humidor with cigars?

Q2. When I buy cigars at my local shop, they come wrapped in cellophane. When I put the cigars in my humidor, should I remove the wrap?

Q3. I justed bought some cigars that came in individual aluminum tubes.  Do I need to stores them in a humidor?

Q4. How fresh do cigars stay outside of a humidor in their original boxes if you don't break the seal or plastic wrapping?

Q5. I recently bought a box of cigars. To my surprise, many haven't burned evenly.  I've kept them in properly humidified conditions.  What is the problem?  Are they too tight?  Is it a problem of quality control?

Q6. How can I tell the difference between plume and mold?

Q7. Help! I smoked half a cigar, then put the other half in my humidor.  When I opened the humidor a few days later, everything smelled like the bottom of a dirty ashtray in a Las Vegas casino.  Any suggestions?

Q8. There's plenty of spring cleaning to do around the house, but what about inside my humidor?  Should that get a good cleaning as well?

Q9. What are the most important things to keep in mind when rehumidifying dry cigars?

Q10. A friend who knows nothing about cigars gave me a very special smoke that had been sitting in a drawer for a year, makeing it bone dry.  How do I bring this baby back to life?

Q11. When aging cigars, how long is too long?

Q12. Some of my cigars have begun to swell an even split the wrapper as soon as I take them out of my humidor.  What's going on?

Q13. Now that my heat's on full blast, I'm having trouble keeping my cigars humidified.  Any suggestions?

Q14. Summer is here.  Is there anything I should do to protect my cigars from the increased heat and humidity?

Q15. Like many cigar smokers, I live in perpetual fear of a tobacco beetle outbreak.  Are there preventive measures I can take?  If I do discover an infestation, then what?

Q16. What's the point of putting cedar dividers in your humidor?

Q17. Is it all right for cigars to comingle in my humidor?

Q18. Should I rotate the position of cigars in my humidor?

Q19. Whay are aromatic woods such as red and white cedar considered undesirable for lining humidors?

Q20. If mahogany and Spanish cedar are both acceptable humidor liners, why choose one over the other?

Q21. Are humidors that store cigars vertically bad for my smokes?

Q22. I know tupperware is an imperfect method for storing cigars, but what exactly are it disadvantages?

Q23. I am traveling out of the country for business and I want to bring along a few smokes to enjoy.  Unfortunately, I don't have a travel humidor.  What should I do?

Q24. A cigar case is great for taking a few smokes away for the weekend, but it doesn't keep them from drying out.  Short of buying a travel humidor, what do you recommend for keeping them in prime smoking condition?

Q25. I live in the Northeast, where, in the winter, it's often bitterly cold outside and heated inside.  As a result, my smokes often don't even make it through dinner before drying out and unraveling in my cigar case.  Any tips to get me through the winter?

Q26. I'm heading to Las Vegas, and want to bring some cigars along. I've heard the desert can be hard on cigars, even those previously well humidified.  I have a nice wooden cigar case in which I like to carry my cigar when I go out at night.  Will this do?

 

 

Q1. What sort of preparation is necessary before filling a new humidor with cigars?

A: The wood needs to be humidified, or seasoned, before the box is ready to hold cigars.

With a new sponge--unscented, free of soap and liberally dosed with distilled water--wipe down all exposed wood, including any trays and dividers, and the interior lid. Avoid using a paper towel or a fraying cloth; these will literally leave a paper trail on the wood. After you've wiped down the wood, squirt the sponge with more distilled water, then place it inside the humidor on a plastic bag (to avoid direct contact with the wood) and close the lid.

Next, prepare your humidification device according to the manufacturer's instructions. Unless the manufacturer specifically states that you can use tap water, use only distilled water. Tap water contains minerals that will destroy most humidification systems by leaving deposits that will clog the humidor element. Once the humidification element is filled, be sure to wipe it down to remove all the excess water. Rest it on a hand towel for approximately 30 minutes.

Close the humidor with its humidifying element and the damp sponge, and leave it overnight. The next day, refresh the humidification device (it may not need it) and check the sponge. If it is fairly dry, add more distilled water. If it is very damp, leave it alone.

Let the humidor sit another night, then remove the sponge and plastic bag. The walls of the humidor have now absorbed all the water they need, and you can safely store your cigars.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q2: When I buy cigars at my local shop, they come wrapped in cellophane. When I put the cigars in my humidor, should I remove the wrap?

A: Certainly.

Cellophane is a moisture barrier. It keeps humidity out as well as sealing it in, but not perfectly. Its primary purpose is to protect the fragile wrapper of the cigar when you buy it. The cellophane should be removed to let the cigars maintain their proper humidity and to allow them to age properly.

If you don't own a cigar case, and you tend to travel with cigars in your breast pocket, you might want to keep a few cigars in their cellophane to protect them when you take them from home.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q3: I just bought some cigars that came in individual aluminum tubes. Do I need to store them in a humidor?

A: Theoretically, no. But if you have a humidor, use it.

Properly humidifed cigars stored in factory-sealed, airtight tubes will retain their freshness and smokability for as long as the seal is unbroken. Cigar Aficionado editors have smoked tubed cigars stored for more than 25 years outside a humidor that were wonderful. But if the cigars weren't properly humidified at packing time, or if the seal wasn't completely airtight, or if it was cracked before you bought the cigar, the cigars will dry out. That's a lot of ifs, and they're all out of your control.

A humidor is always the safest route. Remember to open the tubes when storing them in a humidor. You may feel this defeats the purpose of buying tubed cigars--they often cost extra--but it's better to be safe than sorry. And by all means keep the tubes. They're handy as carrying cases and for protecting cigars during shipping.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com) in the week of February 01, 1999.

 
 

Q4: How fresh do cigars stay outside of a humidor in their original boxes if you don't break the seal or plastic wrapping?

A: How fresh does beef stay in Saran Wrap outside the refrigerator? Do you really want to take a chance?

Storing boxes of cigars outside a humidor is like having a side of beef but no refrigerator in which to put the meat, then asking, "Can I borrow some salt?"

Investing your money in a box of fine cigars and not humidifying them is guaranteed to diminish your enjoyment of them. Even as little as one day outside a humidor can significantly reduce the cigar's moisture content. Smoking a dry cigar means heat, and heat covers up flavor.

Cellophane overwrap on boxes is minimally effective as a moisture barrier. If it were truly effective in retaining moisture, you couldn't keep a cellophaned box in a cabinet humidor because the wrap wouldn't allow moisture in. The bottom line: keep your cigars in a humidor.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com) in the week of August 28, 2000.

 
 

Q5: I recently bought a box of cigars. To my surprise, many haven't burned evenly. I've kept them in properly humidified conditions. What is the problem? Are they too tight? Is it a problem of quality control?

A: Assuming that you bought the cigars at a reputable store, there could be a couple of explanations.

It may be that they were over- or under-humidified at some stage before you got them and they haven't returned to equilibrium. Or it may be that the tobacco was still quite young when you bought them. In either case, let the cigars age for six months or more in your humidor, then try again. If you are not getting any "gummy" sensation on your lips, which is a sign of improperly fermented wrapper tobacco, time should help ease the problem. If the gumminess persists, time won't help; the tobacco is just too raw. 

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com) in the week of August 03, 1998.

 
 

Q6: How can I tell the difference between plume and mold?

A: First some definitions.

Plume is a light, whitish layer of fuzz that can develop on cigars as they age in a humidor. Plume doesn't hurt cigars and is actually a sign that they're aging properly. Mold can ruin cigars and is a sign that the air in the humidor is too warm and/or humid. It has a bluish tint and tends to develop in spots rather than evenly across the surface of a cigar, as plume does.

Physical appearance aside, the easiest way to determine what's growing on your cigars is to apply the "rub test." Using your finger, try to rub the material off. If it flakes off it's plume, if it doesn't it's mold.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com) in the week of November 09, 1999.

 
 

Q7: Help! I smoked half a cigar, then put the other half in my humidor. When I opened the humidor a few days later, everything smelled like the bottom of a dirty ashtray in a Las Vegas casino. Any suggestions?

A: Unfortunately, there really isn't much you can do to solve your problem.

Your humidor has absorbed the odor of a smoked cigar, and it's virtually impossible to get that out. If you have a humidor with an unvarnished interior, you can use fine sandpaper to sand down the interior after letting the humidor dry. (Take out the humidification device, wait several days with the lid open, then do the sanding.) The problem with this method is you won't be able to get every bit of the surface area on the inside of the humidor, and at least some of the odor will linger.

You should never put a partially smoked cigar into a humidor or a cigar case. Sorry we couldn't be of more assistance.  

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com) in the week of October 19, 1998.

 
 

Q8: There's plenty of spring cleaning to do around the house, but what about inside my humidor? Should that get a good cleaning as well?

A: Yes, but humidor maintenance should be done regularly.

Keeping your humidor in top condition should be a year-round endeavor, but a thorough spring cleaning won't hurt. This may include emptying your humidor of its cigars and cleaning out any loose bits of tobacco that may have collected in the bottom. And when we say clean, we mean use a damp cloth: Never introduce soap or any cleaning solution to your humidor, unless you want your puros to taste like Palmolive.

While you're housekeeping, check for evidence of cigar beetles, blemishes or mold -- as opposed to plume which is a sign of aging -- and rotate your smokes to ensure they're receiving equal amounts of humidity. Also change the battery in your digital hygrometer and recharge your humidifying element with a 50/50 mix of propylene glycol. If it's very old, you may want to even replace the element. And remember: These are things that you should do on a regular basis, not just at the onset of spring.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com) in the week of April 10, 2000.

 
 

Q9: What are the most important things to keep in mind when rehumidifying dry cigars?

A: Be patient. Let the cigars absorb moisture gradually.

If dry cigars are exposed to too much humidity too soon, they will expand and the wrapper will crack. Rehumidification should be a gradual process. First, place the cigars in a dry humidor, one without a humidification device, for several days. Then, put the humidification device back in the humidor and, over the course of a two-week period, slowly add water until it's fully charged. Once this has been completed, let your cigars sit until they have regained their moisture and feel supple to the touch. The process should take about three weeks, on average. Remember, however, that it's largely dependent on the condition of the cigars. Bone-dry smokes can take up to a month or more. And cigars that have been dry for several years or more may never absorb enough moisture to become smokable.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com) in the week of October 05, 1998.

 
 

Q10: A friend who knows nothing about cigars gave me a very special smoke that had been sitting in a drawer for a year, making it bone dry. How do I bring this baby back to life?

A: When resuscitating a handmade smoke, patience is critical. Too much humidity too soon will shock the cigar, causing the wrapper to burst or split.

The best rehumidification method is to place the dried cigar in your humidor as far from the humidification device as possible. If your humidor holds fewer then 50 cigars, it's a good idea to put the cigar in a Ziplock bag inside the humidor for a few days. After this, remove the cigars from the Ziplock bag and, over the next three to four weeks, gradually move the cigar closer to the humidifier. This will protect the wrapper from damage and eventually restore the cigar to smoking condition. Again, be patient. The process can take months.  

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q11: When aging cigars, how long is too long?

A: That depends entirely on your taste and the cigars you're aging.

As a general rule, strong cigars age better because they retain flavor longer than mild cigars. At the same time, they mellow and become smoother, a process often referred to as "rounding." Another rule of thumb is that thick cigars, which tend to be more complex because they are rolled with more leaves, age better than thin cigars such as coronas and lonsdales.

But there are many exceptions to these rules. In the end, the tobacco blend is the key factor in a cigar's aging potential. We recently smoked two lonsdales made in the late 1970s: an H. Upmann 2000 from the Canary Islands and a Partagas 8-9-8 made in Jamaica. Both cigars had been stored in the same humidor for almost 20 years. The H. Upmann was packed with rich flavors of nuts and cedar, but the Partagas was thin and perfumy, an unappealing, common characteristic of overaged cigars.

The only way to make sure your cigars don't pass their prime in your humidor is to periodically test them. Lay a box down and smoke one at regular intervals, noting improvements. When they reach the strength and roundness you desire, they've aged long enough.  

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q12: Some of my cigars have begun to swell and even split the wrapper as soon as I take them out of my humidor. What's going on?

A: That's a typical phenomenon as the season changes from winter to spring. As ambient humidity increases, the moisture level in many desktop humidors skyrockets.

A cedar divider in a desktop humidor will help to soak up some of the excess humidity. It may also be beneficial to leave the lid open for an hour or so each day until the humidity comes down. A digital hygrometer is especially helpful in this situation.

A standard humidification device that uses green sponge material, commonly known as Oasis, often retains too much moisture immediately after charging. To avoid this, it's a good idea to lay it on a towel for 60 to 90 minutes before putting it back into your humidor. It's also helpful to place some cedar sheets (the type that come in cigar boxes) on the top row of your cigars to absorb any drips or excess moisture.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q13: Now that my heat's on full blast, I'm having trouble keeping my cigars humidified. Any suggestions?

A: Two. Move your humidor as far away from the heat source as possible and refill your humidification device often.

In cold-weather climates, this is the worst time of year for cigar storage. Constant artificial heat makes the air in most homes extremely dry and poses a real problem for all but the most-state-of-the-art humidors. All you can really do is move your humidor to the least dry part of your house (probably your basement) and go through a lot of distilled water. Those general rules about how often you need to refill your humidification unit go right out the window. Fill it often, every day if your cigars aren't moistening up.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q14: Summer is here. Is there anything I should do to protect my cigars from the increased heat and humidity?

A: Yes. Your humidor absolutely requires more attentive maintenance during the summer months.

The most dangerous time is now, when it may not be hot enough for the air conditioner, but the ambient humidity (the humidity inside your house) is creeping up. It's not uncommon for the ambient humidity to soar as much as 10 percent from late spring to early summer. Of course, a jump in ambient humidity is likely to be mirrored inside your humidor. You should be particularly careful if you've just refilled your humidification device. If your cigars become too moist and the humidity doesn't seem to be coming back down, add some cedar strips to your humidor if it's a desktop model; they'll absorb the excess humidity. If you have a cabinet or a walk-in with a humidity regulator, dial the humidity down. It's hard to say how much--you'll need to experiment a little. The ambient humidity will drop once you start running the air conditioner, but it's still a good idea to be vigilant about checking your cigars in the summertime. And, as always, keep your humidor out of direct sunlight.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q15: Like many cigar smokers, I live in perpetual fear of a tobacco beetle outbreak. Are there preventive measures I can take? If I do discover an infestation, then what?

A: A properly maintained humidor keeps beetles from infesting in the first place. But once they've hatched, your freezer is your weapon.

It's every cigar smoker's nightmare -- a close encounter with tobacco beetles. These pinhead-sized insects can turn a humidor full of precious cigars into an unsmokable mess. Few things are as dangerous or annoying to the cigar connoisseur.

Your treasured smokes are both home and feast to the beetles, which exist in larvae form in tobacco leaves. Every reputable factory takes aggressive measures to keep beetles out of your smokes, but some survive the fumigation. When humidors get too warm and moist, they appear.

We've heard horror stories of smokers opening their humidors and seeing beetles crawling over their cigar collections, but such a dramatic outbreak is rare. Cigar smokers usually see only the damage, not the beetles themselves. Typically a cigar smoker will open the lid of a humidor, or crack open a new box of cigars, and notice one cigar with a neat, circular pinhole. That's evidence of beetle infestation.

If you have one cigar with beetle damage, you're likely to have others. Beetle larvae hatch at temperatures above 72 degrees and a humidity level above 72 percent, one of the primary reasons you should keep your humidor close to the proper level of 70 percent humidity and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When rising humidity makes your smokes too damp, beetle larvae will hatch and tunnel out of a cigar, leaving holes in their wake. Left unchecked, the critters run rampant. In 48 hours a full-fledged beetle infestation can destroy every cigar in an average-sized desktop humidor.

Most beetle outbreaks can be stopped without too much hassle. If you see signs of damage, take immediate action. Put all the cigars from an infected humidor in a zipped plastic bag and place them in your freezer for three days. If the cigars are still in their box, put the whole box into the freezer. Treat all of your cigars, because if you have one damaged cigar, you have to assume they're all at risk.

Cold kills beetles and their larvae. After three days in the deep freeze, move the cigars into your refrigerator to avoid shocking the smokes from the temperature change, which could split their wrappers. In the meantime, wipe your empty humidor clean with a damp cloth. Don't use any type of cleaner or disinfectant -- it will ruin the wood and leave an odor that will taint your cigars. After one day in the refrigerator, put the cigars back in the humidor. Include some strips of cedar to absorb the excess moisture being released.

Now it's time to address the problem that caused the beetles to hatch. Your humidor was probably too moist or too hot. Use a digital hygrometer/thermometer to get an accurate reading, and consider whether the room that houses your humidor isn't subject to temperature extremes when you're not around. Make sure it's not in direct sunlight, and check your humidification system. If you're using a homemade system, or have a cheap, ineffective product, invest in a high-quality device, such as a Credo or a Diamond Crown. Your cigars are worth it.
 
 

Q16: What's the point of putting cedar dividers in your humidor?

A: To prevent the flavors of different cigars from 'marrying' with each other.

Over time, different cigars stored adjacently in a humidor can acquire each other's flavors. This phenomenon occurs through the transmission of oils from one wrapper to the next. It really isn't a factor for short-term storage, but if you plan to store your cigars for a few years or more, it's a good idea to separate them with a thin piece of cedar (the kind found in many cigar boxes). In addition to preventing the marriage of flavors, some people like the additional cedar aromas imparted to their cigars by the extra cedar strip.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q17: Is it all right for cigars to comingle in my humidor?

A: While some purists say no, conventional wisdom says yes.

When cigars are comingled, the rich scents and oils of the older and best cigars will marry their with the younger ones, improving their bouquet. It might seem a trifle metaphysical and impractical, but the great cigars always throw off their aromas and oils into other cigars, as well as the cedar lining. The older, drier benefit from comingling as well, absorbing moisture from the younger smokes.

Purists, however, believe that keeping sticks separate preserves the signature aroma associated with each cigar. This belief is most prevalent with Habanos purists, but with the tobacco traveling that is prevalent today, (i.e., Dominican tobacco used in cigars from Honduras, Nicaraguan cigars containing Mexican tobacco, and--of course--Connecticut wrappers used worldwide) cigars today have less distinction than cigars in years past.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q18: Should I rotate the position of cigars in my humidor?

A: Yes, every two or three months.

Even in the most well-crafted humidor, some spots don't receive as much humidity as others. For example, smokes that rest on the bottom of a typical desktop box receive less humidity than those near the top, where the humidification device is affixed. Shuffling the cigars every couple months ensures equitable moisture distribution. For those who have the luxury of a walk-in humidor, the same principle applies. Cigars stored in areas that for whatever reason receive less humidity need to be regularly cycled through a high-humidity area.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q19: Why are aromatic woods such as red and white cedar considered undesirable for lining humidors?

A: Your answer is part of your question--because they're aromatic.

These cedars have a much stronger odor than Spanish cedar, the preferred wood for the interior of a humidor, and mahogany, which has virtually no odor and is also a good option. Red and white cedars will infect your cigars with their smell, altering the smokes' flavor to the point where the wood scent, not the tobacco, dominates. 

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q20: If mahogany and Spanish cedar are both acceptable humidor liners, why choose one over the other?

A: Spanish cedar imparts a light scent to your cigars over time; mahogany is completely neutral.

It comes down to personal taste. Some people love that cedary scent, while others prefer to let the tobacco age on its own with no wood flavors.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q21: Are humidors that store cigars vertically bad for my smokes?

A: For long-term storage, yes. For short-term storage, the flaws of upright humidors present lesser problems.

The biggest problem with upright humidors is that the feet and heads of your cigars are more likely to sustain damage. Whichever end rests on the bottom of the humidor is likely to crack under the weight of the cigar and from being moved around; the other end is likely to be too close to the humidification element (assuming it's mounted in the lid). Also, most upright humidors are glass, ceramic or plastic, whereas most standard box-shaped humidors are lined with cedar. The cedar lining enhances the aging process. This is why most upright humidors are no good for long-term aging.

Years ago, the Cubans shipped airtight jars of cigars to customers who wanted a "factory fresh" smoke, meaning they didn't want the cigars to mellow and take on cedary flavors imparted by the cedar spills packed in boxes. Obviously, these jars served as short-term storage.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 02, 1998.

 
 

Q22: I know Tupperware is an imperfect method for storing cigars, but what exactly are its disadvantages?

A: Tupperware is an extremely high-maintenance method of cigar storage.

It's a less-than-ideal but workable short-term solution, but we strongly advise against using Tupperware for long term storage of your cigars.

Its biggest drawback is that, unlike wood, Tupperware doesn't breathe. An airtight environment is ideal for keeping food fresh, but over time it wreaks havoc on cigars. While a well-built humidor traps humidity, it also allows passage of enough fresh air to keep cigars from stagnating. Not Tupperware. Cigars stored in humidified Tupperware -- people typically use a damp paper towel, a sponge or even a small plastic Credo-like device -- will quickly become musty if the top isn't opened frequently to allow fresh air to circulate.

Conversely, cigars stored in Tupperware that's not humidified will dry out nearly as fast as cigars exposed to the open air. Tupperware seals air, it doesn't humidify it.  As for long-term storage, Tupperware is not an option. The breathable cedar- or mahogany-lined environment of a quality humidor is absolutely essential for the aging process to occur.

In the end, Tupperware is better than no humidification at all, but plan to check on your cigars every day, and don't expect them to improve with age.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of February 07, 2000.

 
 

Q23: I'm traveling out of the country for business and I want to bring along a few smokes to enjoy. Unfortunately, I don't have a travel humidor. What should I do?

A: Invest in one.

No matter if you're traveling for business or pleasure, the best way to transport your smokes is in a travel humidor. Not only does a travel humidor protect your smokes from baggage claim mishaps and careless porters, but they also contain humidification devices so your smokes are kept in ideal smoking condition.

And, fortunately for cigar smokers on the go, today's market offers a wide variety of reasonably priced travelers to choose from. There are also many styles to choose from in terms of size, durability and practicality -- all factors you should keep in mind when getting ready to purchase.

Of course, if you're in a bind and don't have a traveler handy, you can use a regular carrying case. However, your smokes may dry up before you have a chance to smoke them. The best alternative for traveling without a humidor is to pack your cigars in a Ziploc bag. Then, place the bag and a damp paper towel in a small tupperware container. This will not only protect your cigars, but will also help them stay moist.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of July 24, 2000.

 
 

Q24: A cigar case is great for taking a few smokes away for the weekend, but it doesn't keep them from drying out. Short of buying a travel humidor, what do you recommend for keeping them in prime smoking condition?

A: A Ziplock bag.

Before we say any more, a disclaimer: Only a travel humidor will keep cigars in "prime smoking condition." But for a weekend, a sealed Ziplock bag is the next best thing, provided you're not traveling to Flagstaff, Arizona, or some other extraordinarily arid locale. There's no need to remove the cigars; just throw the entire case in there. If they were properly humidified right up until the moment they were placed in the Ziplock, you won't be able to detect a difference in the way they feel or smoke for at least two days.

If you're planning a longer trip, there are several mini-humidifiers on the market. They operate on the same principle as a Credo brand device; they're just smaller.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of November 03, 1997.

 
 

Q25: I live in the Northeast, where, in the winter, it's often bitterly cold outside and heated inside. As a result, my smokes often don't even make it through dinner before drying out and unraveling in my cigar case. Any tips to get me through the winter?

A: Two suggestions: put your case in a Ziplock bag and/or insert a small, cylindrical humidification device in one sleeve of your case.

Credo makes an effective device called The Tube, and Western Humidor makes one called The Torpedo. About the size of a petit corona, both units are small, slender versions of the rectangular models made for desktop humidors. To activate them, you squirt distilled water through slots in the casing, saturating the green Oasis foam inside.

While these units alone will give the cigars in your case a much-needed shot of moisture during those lengthy meals in overheated restaurants, an additional safety measure is to slip your case into a Ziplock bag before stowing it in your jacket pocket. The bag may detract from the elegance of your case, but at least your post-meal smoke won't unravel in your hands.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com ) in the week of January 19, 1999.

 
 

Q26: I'm heading to Las Vegas, and want to bring some cigars along. I've heard the desert can be hard on cigars, even those previously well humidified. I have a nice wooden cigar case in which I'd like to carry my cigars when I go out at night. Will this do?

A: You're right to be concerned. We just returned from Vegas, where we learned the hard way that cigars need additional TLC and moisture in the dry desert air.

Here's a tip we picked up from the locals. About 10 minutes before you leave your hotel room, run your fingers under water, then wipe down the inside of your cigar case. Allow the case to dry, then load it up. The extra moisture should hold you over for the day or the evening, but don't forget to put whatever you didn't smoke back into your travel humidor or a Zip-Lock before you go to sleep. Otherwise, your smokes will be bone dry by morning.

This is a reprint of the article in the "Tip of the Week" section of the website of Cigar Aficionado (www.cigaraficionado.com) in the week of October 26, 1998.

 
 
 
 
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