28 Jul 2014
In a perfect world, I would have one large humidor, preferably a walk-in, with all the cigars easily accessible, sorted by name, and labeled with received dates. It would make aging simpler, humidification easier to monitor, and my whole stash more organized.
Reality is much different. At any given time I have anywhere from five to seven humidors. The variance is explained by the fact that, depending on inventory, I sometimes outfit two large Tupperware containers with Spanish cedar to store spillover smokes. While I’d love to just have one humidor instead of a handful of medium- to small-sized humidors, the five traditional wooden humidors all carry sentimental value (i.e., the one I got for my wedding that’s engraved with the wedding date), so I just can’t bring myself to consolidate.
One challenge with this setup is monitoring the humidification levels of each individual humidor. Each humidor seems to hold humidity differently, and that can make proper maintenance difficult. My solution? Once every so often (more often in the winter, when the natural air humidity is lower) I examine and rotate the cigars in each humidor. I also check to see if the humidification device in each humidor needs to be “recharged.” The whole process can easily take upwards of an hour, sometimes two.
So I finally broke down and decided to start using Boveda packs instead of the humidification devices that came with the humidors. In all, since I started using Boveda about a year ago, I’ve found my humidity to be more reliable, and there’s much less effort demanded of me to keep my cigars fresh. (Before I get into the details of my experience, I’d like to point out that Boveda is not a sponsor of StogieGuys.com, and the company did not provide any product for me to review. I’m simply trying to solve a personal humidity control need, and I paid my own money to get the product.)
The process of ordering Boveda is easy. Simply consult the chart to determine how many packs you’ll need, select your level of relative humidity (62%, 65%, 69%, 72%, 75%, or 84%), and the packs arrive in a few days. It’s preferable to order more packs than you think you’ll need. “It’s impossible for Boveda to over-humidify beyond the RH on the pack,” according to the Boveda website. “That’s why our usage instructions talk about minimums, not maximums. There’s no such thing as using ‘too much.’ More than the minimum will just last longer.”
Once you’ve arranged the packs inside your humidor(s)—feel free to lay them directly on the cigars—you can essentially forget about the hygrometer (which is likely mis-calibrated anyhow) and only worry about changing out your Boveda packs once they’ve dried up. It’s easy to tell when the packs need to be changed because they feel like dry wafers instead of liquid pillows.
When I placed my first Boveda order, I didn’t get enough packs, and most of them dried out after 60 days. In my experience, buying more packs helps drag out the pack life to 90 days. Still, since these packs are $4 apiece, if you need to buy 10 packs every quarter you’re looking at $160 a year just to keep your cigars humidified. That’s a lot of money considering my old method of using distilled water was essentially free, albeit time-consuming.
I generally like Boveda, but haven’t quite come to terms with the cost. So I’m open to suggestions on other, more cost-effective ways to maintain proper humidity without wasting a lot of time. I encourage you to offer suggestions in the comments below.