Keeping cigars fresh is critical to preserving the flavor, aroma and texture of the smoke. The best way to do this is to store your cigars in a humidor. A humidor is basically a cigar box that contains a special humidifier, which keeps humidity levels inside the box at the optimum level for preserving the moisture in the tobacco. The system usually makes use of two instruments: a hygrometer and a humidifier. The hygrometer tells you what the humidity level is in the box, while the humidifier actually provides the humidity. Using a humidifier in your cigar storage box (or cabinet) is very easy once you know how.
Calibrate Your Cigar Box Hygrometer
Pour a small amount of table salt into a container that is small enough to fit inside a Ziplock bag with the hygrometer. Use at least 1 tsp. of salt and make sure the container is open so that it does not restrict airflow. The cap to a jug of milk makes an ideal container to use for this purpose.
Add a small amount of distilled water to the salt. Drizzle the water in slowly with a spoon so you can easily control how much is added. Dampen the salt so that it has the consistency of wet beach sand, without having any puddles of standing water. Add more salt if you accidentally put too much water in the container.
Carefully place the salt container into the Ziplock bag, taking special care to not spill the contents. Also add the hygrometer to the freezer bag before sealing it shut. Allow these items to sit for approximately 8 hours to allow humidity to build inside the bag.
Remove the hygrometer from the bag and check the reading on the dial. The hygrometer should be reading the humidity level at approximately 75% at this point. If the humidity reading is below this amount, use a jeweler's screwdriver from an eyeglass repair kit to adjust the screw on the back of the hygrometer. Slowly turn the screw until the dial reads 75% humidity. Your hygrometer is now calibrated so that you can always tell what the humidity level is inside your cigar box.
Charge the Humidifier of Your Cigar Box
Place the humidifier in a small bowl. A cereal bowl works perfect for charging the humidifier, but any container that is large enough to hold the humidifier will work.
Pour a small amount of distilled water into the bowl. Add the water slowly and avoid completely submerging the humidifier. Add enough water to the bowl to have about half of the humidifier in the water.
Allow the humidifier to sit in the water for one to two minutes. Remove the humidifier from the water and dry the outer casing with a small hand towel so that water will not drip onto your cigars.
Place the hygrometer and humidifier inside the cigar box. Many humidors have special mountings inside the lid of the box for these instruments. It is fine to have them sitting loosely inside the box, as long as they are in it and the lid remains closed.