Cigars are wonderful ways to relax, offering complex tastes and aromas. However, not all cigars smell wonderful – you might encounter some that smell like ammonia. Your first instinct might be to avoid those, or to return them to the tobacco shop from which you purchased them. However, there are some good reasons that you should give those smokes a lengthy stay in your humidor instead. Why might a good cigar smell like ammonia and why shouldn’t you return it to the shop?
Good Cigars Can Smell Bad
First, it’s important to understand that the smell of ammonia from a cigar is not necessarily an indication of a lack of quality. Instead, it’s simply a sign that the cigar has not been aged properly. Home aging is just as beneficial as aging with a manufacturer – you can put those cigars in your humidor for several months (ideally, you’ll age them for a year or longer) and age them properly.
Ammonia Smell Transference
Some cigar lovers find that placing young, un-aged cigars in their humidor makes the entire thing smell like ammonia. Smell transference can happen, and you’ll probably be a bit miffed when your aged stock begins to take on an ammonia smell. You can get around this problem pretty easily by aging your young cigars in a separate humidor. If you don’t have a spare humidor (you really should have at least two), then you can use a large Tupperware container or other plastic container (with a lid).
Size and Configuration Considerations
Before you do anything, make sure that the container you choose has enough room. You’ll want to have plenty of space to store your smokes, but you also need to make sure that the container has enough room for a humidifier or humidity pouches. Maintaining the proper humidity level is a vital part of the aging process as you know. Without the right size, you might not have sufficient space for your humidifier, which will result in a poor quality smoke even if you let your cigars age for an entire year.
Cleaning Your Humidor
Once you’ve safely transferred the offending cigars to another holding area, you’ll need to make sure that you get the ammonia smell out of your original humidor. You can do this in several ways, including using an ozone air-purifier (as opposed to an ion air-purifier). Also, make sure there is plenty of air circulation and consider cracking the lid very slightly (while keeping a close eye on humidity) and allowing it to air out a bit.Why Do My Cigars Smell Like Ammonia? by David Sabot