Thursday, February 26, 2015

Caring for Cubans: How to Season a Humidor to 65rh for Habanos


I wrote this article a long time ago on a forum, and it always seemed to be referenced by many folks, having them say it helped them out with their humidors. I wanted to post it on Habanos Critic for all of our loyal and new followers as well, whom might have questions as well. This is the approach I have taken over the years, in seasoning a humidor for Cuban cigars/Habanos.


I have had several people with humidity issues and new humi's contact me regarding seasoning and reseasoning humidors. folks continually ask what rh I prefer to store Cuban Cigars at. I figured posting an article would make this a bit easier for anyone interested, and I won't have to explain myself over and over. I came up with this method while using multiple humi's after having stability issues. I will post pictures and season an old humi for this project. I will also season a small humidor with a single 65rh Boveda pack. I do not claim to be the end all be all of cigar knowledge, but this has worked for me and several other people with great success. The only time it did not, gel was used, which is why I recommend Heartfelt beads or Kitty Litter, with Boveda for stabilizing specific rh levels. I prefer Habanos to be stored at 65 rh, and I think they smoke best between 62-65 rh. That may not be what you like, and this may not work for you if higher rh is what you desire. However, buying higher rh beads and Boveda packs may help you in that mission. This article is specifically seasoning for Habanos, caring for Cuban cigars, and anyone else whom like their cigars at 65rh.




FYI...I am not here to debate whose method is better, which one works best, which one you should use and I do not recommend this for cooler's or wineadors. I am not an expert, just a guy who has helped a few people. I use a wineador and a cooler for Habanos as well, and they take much less work.
Rule Number 1: DO NOT WIPE! Every person I've ever talked to that had fluctuation issues, employed this method. It can warp the wood, it is not consistent, and might lead to mold. If you wiped, let it dry out....
Rule Number 2: Be patient and don't put your damn smokes in there!!!!
What you need:
1. Kitty litter or beads, I use Exquisicat and have used Heartfelt beads in the past with this method. I do not recommend using gel. More is better...start at one lb, work up to two lbs for larger humi's. I have not seasoned a cabinet in this method so I cannot say it works, but I cannot imagine it would not. I put the kitty litter in Tyvek envelopes from USPS, roll them up like a big tube, and prefer a few Boveda packs to stabilize preferred rh.

2. Brand new sponge and a dish to put it on

3. Distilled water

4. Xikar digital hygrometer-$15 and they work great. If they break, you get a new one...

Day one: Place the sponge soaked in distilled water on dish and place it in the humi. Close your humi for two days. i used tin foil, as I did nto have a dish that fit in this one. Don't open it. I know you will, you probably want to...but don't. Now wait until day three and forget about the humi. For larger humidifiers, I use multiple dishes of distilled water, but sponges will work as well.

This is the small humidor, about a 25 count for beginners.


This is the larger humidor, holds 300-400, rh was 46 when I began



Day two: check rh if you want, but really, do not open it. I did this for the sake of showing where rh is at, and so you do not need to. You can see in the small humi, it jumped to 79, large humi it went up to 61, and is much slower.




Day three: place dry beads, kitty litter, or Boveda pack in the humi, do not pull sponge. Leave this for 24 hours, while the beads, litter, or Boveda will soak up excess moisture and charge. You can see the small humi went up in the 80's before I put the Boveda pack in. for the large humidor, I waited two extra days and it got to 70. I put the kitty litter in dishes on the different tiers for seasoning purposes.






Day four: Pull the sponge, put your hygrometer in there, chances are rh should be higher then 70, probably 80ish, wait for two days and leave it closed. This is the stabilization period where the beads soak up excess moisture and stabilize internal rh. You can see the Boveda pack pulled it down to 70 quickly, the beads down to 69.




Day six: by now your rh should be stable at 70-75 and will drop once you fill it with cigars. Do not fill it with cigars, you need to see if it holds stable humidity. If rh is too low or high...see below. If rh continues to drop, see below.

Day Seven-Ten: if the rh is stable, fill it with cigars.




Day Six-part two: If for some reason your rh drops too low, then the humi has not soaked up enough moisture. If that is the case, go back to day three and put the sponge in if the beads are fully charged. If the beads are not fully charged, you can spray them as well. In the past, I have sprayed the beads a little bit to bring rh up to 65 if that is what I wanted, or 70 if that is what you want. If it is too high, which in my case the last time was 69, i jsut added some more dry beads and waited a day and it went to 65. This may take another day or two to get your rh stable. I normally wait for one extra day at the desired rh before I put cigars in.
Final Thoughts: Unstable rh is not good for your wrappers and can cause cracking. By seasoning properly in this fashion, I have found my humi's fluctuate so little I do not need hygrometers really. Some people like Boveda, I like spending $20 on enough beads to last a lifetime via kitty litter, while recycling Boveda for stability. I never have to spray the litter, and my rh is 62 in the humidors with older Habanos, and 65 in newer Habanos. Having patience is the key to seasoning. There is nothing wrong with waiting and taking your time. I actually know cabinet owners who just use cups of distilled water once seasoned properly with very little beads. If you have any questions, feel free to ask here.

I have found regulating half a dozen humidors can be a pain in the rear and have had to reseason multiple times until I figured this out. Every time someone has an issue, my first question is did you wipe? The answer is always yes. If your humidor does not hold rh after this, you probably need more beads or may have a bad seal. If you have a bad seal, email me for advice. I have ways of fixing it with seasoning, that I do not advise in the open, as folks may use them when not needed. You might also need to extend day 1-3 into a five day period or use multiple dishes with distilled water. It's not rocket science, it's getting wood to absorb moisture and beads to regulate it.