Cigarians Magazine

It’s all about humidity

Heiko Blumentritt March 26, 2013 Cigar Talks
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Maybe some of you read this write-up already on my private blog at blog.blumentritt.net… for all others: enjoy the read!

Recently we’d an interesting discussion on Instagram about the preference of cigars with a bigger or a smaller RG… this discussion led to the point where we talked about storage conditions and stuff like that.

This discussion caused me to make a little write-up because it seems that things that I thought that they’re common knownledge seem not to be known to everybody.

Ok… let’s start with some facts… it’s definitely a fact that recently there’s a tendency to cigars with a bigger RG (I call them jawbreakers which means for me all those 50+ sizes).

I prefer cigars with a small RG (42 and smaller) but there are also some exceptions… as there are exceptions to any rule… but what’s the reason that many people dislike those thin cigars… Why do people always complain about them? Problems like plugging, or getting bitter or too hot… that’s the things you can hear very often…

Let’s start with the last issue… the cigar gets too hot… simple reason: people smoke too fast (you cannot smoke a thin cigar as fast as a fattie). It gets hot… of course… and in the end it also gets bitter due to the burning process… the only solution is: smoke slower and pay attention to your cigar! It’s said easier than done… but that’s the reason why I prefer bigger RGs when I smoke at a herf… and big means for me RG 50 which’s a Robusto size… they need less attention and forgive it when you smoke them a bit faster than you are used to do…

La Corona Coronas from 1992

I know people who smoked a Montecristo A in less than 1 hour… that’s absolutely crazy… when I smoke an A-size it normally takes me more than 3 hours… so: take your time! And if you don’t have the time, choose a smaller cigar.

Now we get to the point where we initially started… the discussion about humidification. Let’s simplify it a little bit: the wetter a cigar is, the higher is the tendency for plugging.

For me 72 % rH, which’s the standard humidification level of many cigar smokers and shops is too wet imho. But that’s a personal preference. For long term storage I use a humidity of app. 63 to 65 %, the cigars I smoke are stored at 65 to 67 % which’s perfect for me. I never had any problems with plugged cigars… Storing more on the dry side means that you’ve less moisture in the cigar itself which leads to less condensate that can plug your stick! Conclusion: a wet (stored at 72 %) stick will have more condensate inside than a dry (stored at 65 %) stick, so the tendency for plugging is much higher in the wet one.

Maybe you’ve heard the term “dry-boxing” in the past… dry-boxing reduces the humidity in a stick and helps to make it smokable… and guess what: it works in many cases. And guess why: less moisture content, less condensate…

On the other hand people are very sensitive when it comes the humidification of their humidors. I’m relaxed about this… I’m a process engineer, I learned a lot about wet and dry air, humidification and all the measuring. And believe me: cigars, which are stored in closed boxes are less sensitive regarding the humidity than most people think.

You think that you really have a rH of 72 % when it is shown on the hygrometer of your humidor? I’m sorry to say but I can’t take those instruments for serious… even if you spent more money on them they maybe cost you USD 100… you think that´s expensive? If you really want to make a serious measurement of the humidity you need a dew point monitor… which is about USD 40´000. That’s the only instrument which’ll give you an exact result… all the rest shows you values which can vary +/- 5 … 10 %!

Do you trust that value?

The crucial thing about “relative Humidity” can be found in the word itself! It´s RELATIVE! This means it depends on the temperature. So… if you talk about rH you also should mention the referring temperature. In terms of cigar storage people speak about 72 % rH at a temperature of 20 °C / 68 F. To have an absolute value at those conditions you should talk about the water content of the air… at this point it’s 12.46 g/m³ (the maximum capacity at this point is 17.31 g/m³). If the temperature is 15 °C the water content at 72 % would be 9.82 g/m³ (22 % less), if the temperature would be 25 °C the water content at 72 % would be 16.61 g/m³ (33 % more).

This means that you need the absolute water content if you want to be sure to keep your cigars at constant conditions which refer to 72 % rH @ 20 °C. Maybe this graph helps you with that.

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Theoretically you should increase your humidity if you get lower than 20 °C and lower it if you get higher than 20 °C… but if you want to be exactly like this you need a good measuring device… which brings you back to a point that I mentioned earlier. On the other hand… this graph shows you that the humidity would be close to 100 % if stored at 15 °C (considering that you wanna have the same conditions as at 20 °C)… but honestly: that makes no sense!

So the best indication for the correct humidity in your humidor is your personal feeling… the cigars should feel not dry and just wet enough to be smokeable. You’ll get this feeling after a while when you’re into this “cigar thing”…

If you want another interesting point of view about storing cigars you should check out the following link. My friend from www.feltedhat.com also wrote some lines about this topic: http://www.feltedhat.com/?p=682

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About The Author

Cigar smoker, whisky and food lover, blog author: blog.blumentritt.net

3 Comments

  1. Burak March 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Many thanks for all the detailed information Heiko. Your article may help us to degrade our obsession with the hygrometers :) Thank you master!

    • Heiko Blumentritt March 26, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Thx for the compliments, Burak… it’s just my POV. Not more, not less… maybe it makes some people think about it…

  2. Roberto June 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Bravo!
    Very good explanation.
    I regularly use the dry box because I m leaving in Italy and my problem is to de-humidify since the ambient T is floating a lot and rel humidity is going from 45% to 80% along the day. So, I m following my feeling: leaving the cigs in the humi (into their boxes) and careless to the hygrometers. My solution is leave a constant environment to my goodies. Cheers

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