Humidity 101

What humidity should I store my cigars at?  This is a questions discussed, debated, and misunderstood by many.  Some who swear by a specific humidity can’t even explain why.  So the question is, what humidity do you store your cigars at?

This is not going to be exhaustive but is meant to be a 101 and start a conversation in the comments about what you enjoy.

Why keep cigars humid? The answer can be made fairly simple. If the leaves dry they will crack and your cigar will fall apart.  But even if it doesn’t crack it’ll burn unevenly and too hot and ruin the flavour of the cigar.

What if they’re too humid?  If the cigar is too humid you can still get uneven burning which will affect the flavour.  We’ve seen people say “my cigars are not dry but they’re still cracking!” What people also don’t realize is that when the tobacco inside of your cigar gets too humid it will expand and can crack the binder and wrapper that way.

The generally safe relative humidity is somewhere in the range of 62% to 72%.  Some prefer a higher (or lower) humidity in general while others prefer a lower humidity (62-65%) for Cubans and a higher humidity (67%-72%) for non-Cubans.

If your humidity is fluctuating do to temperature changes you need to keep in mind that your hygrometer displays “relative humidity”.  There’s a really interesting chart below that shows how ambient temperature will affect the relative humidity.  The circled column shows 65% RH.  This chart was shared on the Canada Cigar Forum and was taking from the US Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Handbook.

Relative Humidity

If you have a taller cabinet humidor, the top portion will have a higher humidity than the bottom. Some people’s immediate reaction is that “water is heavier than air” but this isn’t exactly accurate.  The molar mass of water is 18g/mol while the weight of air is 29g/mol.  Roughly.  So, airborne water is actually lighter than the air in our atmosphere.  This is the short answer!

So, the question is not necessarily “what is the best humidity” to store a cigar but can be narrowed down, within reason, to what is the humidity I prefer?

Let us know in the comments how you prefer to store your cigars!

– David