How to Properly Care for your Cigars
Storage Do's and Don'ts
Cigars may be stored in many different ways for as many different reasons. It is important that they are stored with some type of humidification and at a controlled temperature.
A cigar is a natural product and should be treated accordingly. As with any organic item, a cigar will succumb to the elements if not handled properly. It can’t be said enough: Cigars require both humidity and temperature control.
Do’s: It is best to keep your cigars in a humidor (until you are ready to smoke them) under conditions of 70% humidity and 70° F. This provides the cigars with an environment similar to the region where the tobacco was grown. To do so, there needs to be a humidification device (“humidifier”), a humidity gauge (“hygrometer”) and a place to keep your humidor that is away from either warm or cool temperatures. The “humidifier” should only be filled using distilled water, not tap water. It should also be noted that the humidity may fluctuate between 70 and 80 without negatively impacting the taste and quality of the cigars.
If you do not have a humidor, an airtight plastic container will work just as well. A common favorite for cigar storage is Tupperware. In addition, you may simply pour a little distilled water into a glass until you choose to buy a humidifier. Unlike a humidor, however, the Tupperware will have to be opened from time to time to prevent overhumidification. If you like cigars, this shouldn’t be a concern as you’ll be enjoying them often.
Another storage idea, for small quantities and travel, is the Ziploc storage bag. If your cigars have been stored properly, a Ziploc bag will keep them fresh for about a week if not exposed to extreme temperatures. It is recommended that if you use this short-term method of storage, you place the bag in a solid container like a tin or wooden cigar box. This will protect the cigars from being accidentally bent or crushed.
There are numerous other ways to store cigars such as coolers, glass or plastic jars and myriad other products. Nothing, however, compares to a humidor. So if you’re serious about your cigars, make an investment in a humidor… you won’t regret it.
Don’ts: Do not put your cigars in your refrigerator or freezer! Because most units also dehumidify the air, storing cigars in the fridge will dry them out. Also, if there are aromatic foods near your cigars, such as onions or garlic, the cigars could take on their flavors. Finally, if a cigar has been stored in a refrigerator and hasn’t returned to room temperature before lighting, the wrapper may explode off the cigar. This happens because the heat from the smoke will cause the leaf to expand too quickly.
White Spots (Bloom): At times, a fine white powder will form on the wrapper of the cigar during the aging process. This naturally occurring phenomenon, known a bloom, is caused by the oils that exude from the tobacco and simply indicates that the cigar is alive and maturing as it should inside a well maintained humidor. It is harmless and can be gently brushed off with a small camel hair brush, although there is no need to do this.
Mold: Bloom should not be confused with mold which is bluish-green and stains the wrapper. The presence of mold usually indicates a humidor is too warm or has excessive levels of humidity.
Dried Out Cigars: A dried out cigar can be restored, but it does take time. For expensive cigars, it is usually recommended that you see your tobacconist. To restore cigars yourself, remove them from their tubes or wrappers, place them into a ziplock bag and seal it. Pierce the bag with the many little holes, then place the first bag (containing the cigars) into a second, larger ziplock bag along with a sponge moistened with distilled water. Seal the second bag. Rotate the cigars 25% every few days, so that all of the wrapper is exposed to the humidity. Repeat this process for a month. Once the cigars have regained their normal sponginess, they can be returned to the humidor, but should remain there for another 9-12 months to allow enough time for the tobaccos to reach their proper equilibrium.