How Does a Humidor Work?

If you’re new to the world of cigars, you may have heard of the phrase humidor and know that it is important for storing your cigars, but you may not know how it works. We all have to start somewhere. Maybe you’re looking to buy a gift for the cigar lover in your life and you just want to know more about what a humidor is and how it works. And that’s great! You came to the right place. Let’s walk you through this important part of your cigar hobby.

The Purpose of a Humidor

The humidor not only stores your cigars, but utilizes a few components to create an ideal environment for your cigars to be stored in. This ideal environment controls the temperature and the relative humidity of the inside of the box, which allows the right amount of moisture inside to help preserve your cigars without getting them too wet or too dried out. On either extreme the cigar’s taste will be negatively affected, and no one wants that. Keeping your cigars in that sweet spot of perfect temperature and humidity is what will keep your cigars tasting great. Maintaining that balance of humidity comes down to two components of your humidor working in conjunction with each other: the Spanish cedar making up the box and the humidifier kept within.

Spanish Cedar

Most humidors on the market have a lining of Spanish cedar. This wood is used most often because of its properties to absorb and release moisture slowly, creating an even humidity as often as possible. This is also why many cigar trays for humidors are made of the same cedar wood. If there is more moisture outside the wood, it will absorb the moisture to try to reach balance. This is why you need to season your humidor by moistening the cedar before storing your cigars, otherwise the cedar starts to pull moisture from the cigars themselves, which would defeat the purpose of a humidor.


The humidifier is what really keeps the moisture and humidity on point. Once a humidor has been seasoned and loaded with cigars, a humidifier keeps providing the moisture for the inside of the box, allowing the cigars to stay at the right humidity and the cedar to absorb any excess moisture, and release it back should the humidifier run a little low. There are many kinds of humidifiers on the market, with options ranging from florist foam-based blocks that absorb distilled water to more complex pouches or beads or gel-based humidifiers. Whichever version you like best, make sure to follow the instructions on when to recharge them with more distilled water or other moisturizing agents. These humidifiers will also only last for a certain amount of time, so be sure to replace them as needed.

Monitoring Your Humidity with a Hygrometer

Another key component to any humidor is the hygrometer, which measures the relative humidity inside the humidor, allowing you to monitor when you need to recharge the humidifier and adjust the humidity inside. You want an ideal relative humidity of 70%, and an optimum temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Getting a hygrometer (either digital or analog) to monitor this will help you notice any shifts in the humidity or temperature so you can adjust accordingly and not ruin your cigars. Be sure to check the hygrometer at least once a week to make sure the humidity is staying at the right level. Be sure to also calibrate your hygrometer every now and again, in order to keep the readings as accurate as possible.

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