BCP Cigar 101: Hygrometers (video)
Hi, welcome to Cigar 101. My name is Dane with BestCigarPrices.com. Today we’re going to cover some of the basics of getting your humidor ready to go so that you can store your cigars accurately. The first part of getting your humidor set before you season the humidor is to calibrate your hygrometer. A hygrometer is a little digital or analog device that’s placed inside the humidor that reads the relative humidity with inside.
You want to keep your relative humidity right around 70%. Anything too high or low above that is going to affect the cigars. The natural oils within the cigars need to be right around 70%. You can vary two to three degrees above, or below that. Anything more than that you’re going to have issues. If your humidity is below 65%, you’re going to have an issue where your cigars are drying out on you; they don’t taste right, they’re burning harshly. If it’s above 75% they’re going to be too moist; you’re going to have a hard time keeping them lit. So like I said 70% is the target you want to aim for. If you’re off by a percentage or two, not a big deal.
So the two different kinds of hygrometers you’re going to be dealing with are analog hygrometers and digital hygrometers. Most starter kits with the humidor that you get is going to have an analog hygrometer built right into the humidor. They’re really easy to remove, you can just push them out with your thumb, they slide right back in. There’s a nice tight seal on them so you don’t lose humidity once they go back in. These are very nice looking models. They have a sort of classic look, they look great on the outside of your humidor.
The issue with these is they’re not always very accurate. There are accurate analog hygrometers, but they tend to be really expensive. Ones that come with your basic kits aren’t going to give you a good reading. Without a good reading you’re not going know how your cigars are doing, and you might end up ruining your cigars. My suggestion, pick up a digital hygrometer. You get them for around $20.00, so it’s not that much of an investment and it’s going to be a much more accurate read.
So once you have the hygrometer that’s right for you, the next choice is calibrating it. There’s different ways you can do that. The first is just by picking up one of these one-step calibration kits. They’re really easy to use. You get a general, a relative humidity reading on the top corner of the kit, and all you do is open it up, and on the inside you have what’s called a humidpak. This is the pack that sits inside this bag, and makes sure the environment within the bag is at that 75% humidity. You just want to take your hygrometer, place it in the bag, seal it up, and let it sit for 24 to 36 hours.
After that, when you pull your hygrometer out, it should be reading the same as the environment inside the bag. It should be at 75% humidity. In the event it’s not, with the analog hygrometer, all you do is take a small flat-head screwdriver and right on the back you see a little hole, that fits right in there, and you can adjust the gauge to read appropriately. With the digital hygrometer, if it’s off by a few degrees, there’s an adjustment knob. You turn that knob, and it’s going to give you an accurate read, and then you just hit the set button. There’s really instructions that come with these, they’re very simple to use.
So once you have your hygrometer all set to go, you’re ready to add it into your humidor. In the event you don’t have one of these one-step calibration kits, and you don’t want to purchase one, the other option you have is to go with the regular table salt method. What you’ll need is some table salt, a bottle cap, and distilled water. The reason you want to use distilled water as opposed to tap water is because distilled water doesn’t have the same impurities. There’s not the bacteria and things that could get into your humidor, cause molding, cause other issues that you don’t want for your cigars. So you always want to stick with distilled water anytime you’re using water in your humidor.
With the table salt method, it’s a very simple idea. Salt mixed with water is always going to give you 75% relative humidity. So you pour the cap, about two-thirds of the way full of salt, and then you add just a little bit of the distilled water. You don’t want to add too much, you don’t want there to be a pool of water on top of the salt. You want the salt to have a cake like consistency, that’s going to give you your 75% humidity.
Then it’s a simple step of just placing it in a plain zip lock bag, we have these nice ones with our logo on them. You can just use your regular zip lock, place the hygrometer in, place the cap with the salt and water in it, seal it up nice, and tight. And then you want to give it the same 24 to 36 hour waiting period. And after that you just need to calibrate your hygrometer so that it’s reading 75% and you’re good to go.