Caring for the Love of Your Life; Keep Those Sticks Healthy Noobs

Okay, the title is definitely tongue in cheek. I’d hope you have another — reciprocal — form of love in your life besides your cigar collection.

If you don’t… well, then let’s share a moment of awkward silence.

Moving on.

Cigars are delicate creatures, especially when it comes to that gorgeous, brown wrapper. If you don’t store them properly the wrapper can crack, warp and even dry out. Perhaps, more important than lighting up a stick properly is ensuring that you store them under the right conditions.

It’s not exactly what you can call easy, storing the cigars properly. That said, it’s not high-maintenance either. If you setup the environment right, it only takes a small amount of monitoring to ensure they stay healthy and smokable.

What Is the Ideal Temperature?

Cigar Humidor by Paul Knittel (Flickr)Cigar pros know this well, and it’s one of the first things they’ll share when you ask for advice. If you don’t already know, the ideal temperature for a cigar is about 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit with anywhere from 73 to 74 percent humidity. If you maintain these settings, your Cigars will stay springy and beautiful.

If, for some reason, you pick up a stick and you’re not quite ready to light that bad boy up — yet don’t have a humidor handy for storage — there are some steps you can take to preserve it. Please, do not try this with a cigar that’s not wrapped in cellophane. If you use this preservation method with an unprotected stick, it will completely ruin the wrapper.

Take a paper towel and dampen it with water; make sure it’s damp, not soaked. Find yourself a plastic sandwich bag, and drop the cigar and paper towel inside. Then, place the baggie inside your refrigerator in the vegetable crisper drawer.

Choosing the Right Humidor

Obviously, the best way to preserve your cigar(s) is to purchase a decent humidor. Every tobacco aficionado knows how to maintain one, and most likely every regular smoker has one handy. If you don’t, and you smoke on the regular, you should definitely think about getting one.

Jeffery Stephenson's Humidor PC by Intel Free Press (Flickr)
Jeffery Stephenson’s Humidor PC

The first time you try to smoke a dry cigar you’ll learn your lesson fast. They smoke hot, often burning your lips and mouth more than usual, and the wrapper tends to crack more easily. That’s not even factoring in the taste of a dry cigar, which isn’t quite as flavorful as when a stick is healthy.

Most places will tell you to spend an arm and a leg procuring the biggest humidor you can muster. We won’t advertise such a thing. Yes, it helps if you have more space but a small humidor will work just fine, provided it’s on the up and up and you take care of it.

The first thing you want to do with any humidor is ensure the lid closes securely and remains that way. You can do this pretty easily with the dollar test.

What Is the Dollar Test?

From left to right: Bolivar Belicoso Fino, Cohiba Siglo IV, Cuaba Distinguidos, Trinidad Robusto Extra, Hoyo Churchill
From left to right: Bolivar Belicoso Fino, Cohiba Siglo IV, Cuaba Distinguidos, Trinidad Robusto Extra, Hoyo Churchill

Take a dollar bill and place it on the lip of the humidor lid, then close it. Pinch the exposed side of the dollar and give it a good tug. If it slides out of place easily, then don’t use the humidor — or buy it if you’re looking at it in a store.

However, if the dollar bill is tough to pull out then it means the seal is damn good. Depending on the size of the humidor, you might want to conduct the test on the sides of the box too.

A good seal is the key to keeping your cigar collection healthy and tasty.

The next step is to ensure your humidor stays at the optimal temperature within. Of course, you can always purchase a humidor that includes a humidification system, hygrometer and temperature gauge built in. A hygrometer will help you measure the moisture inside the box, otherwise known as the humidity.

Get It Done, Yo

It might seem like a lot of work, and it can be if you’re not used to this kind of thing. When you kick back and enjoy one of your own sticks — with a good cup of joe, glass of liquor or a refreshing beer — that’s as good as anything you can pick up at a local lounge, you’ll feel pretty damn good about yourself.


Fellow cigar pros, feel free to share a few more tips for the newbies out there!

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