Cigar 101: Should I leave the cigar in its cellophane? How about tubes?

One of our most frequently asked questions is whether to leave a cigar in its outer packaging when storing in your humidor. The short answer is: It doesn’t really matter that much either way.

Cellophane is used to protect the cigar’s wrapper from being damaged during packing and transit, and when you’re rifling through your humidor. It doesn’t do anything in terms of maintaining your cigar’s humidity or flavor. With or without the plastic, your cigar will smoke and taste the same. There are some who claim removing the cellophane allows the aroma of the cigar to “marry” with other cigars in the humidor. This may have a small kernel of truth to it, but the reality is that cellophane used on cigars is manufactured to be permeable, allowing the cigars to “breathe” — so the cigar aromas will “marry” either way. If you want to… er… “divorce” the aromas, get a larger humidor and keep the cigars in their original boxes.

Our recommendation: Keep the cellophane on. It ain’t hurtin’ nothin’ and will prevent you from accidentally blemishing a wrapper as you’re moving cigars about in your humidor. We won’t be offended if you keep them unsheathed, though… just keep your fingernails well-manicured!

Tubes are a slightly different story, though the basic idea remains the same as cellophane. Over time, even tubes can start to “breathe” and become affected by the environment around them. How much time? To our knowledge, there has been no scientific study, and anecdotal accounts widely vary. We’ve heard of cigars stored in metal tubes that lasted 20+ years in perfect condition, but this must be an exceptional case. Outside a humidor, it may only be a matter of weeks before your cigar starts to lose its luster. The tube might keep humidity relatively static, but will do little for temperature and light changes that can adversely affect your cigar. Your results will vary wildly depending on how the tube is capped and constructed.

Our recommendation: Leave it in the tube. This is especially true if the tube is lined with cedar, as it will impart a nice flavor as the cigar ages. It’s also handy to have around in case you want to travel with your stogie. Some folks suggest uncapping the tube to allow a freer flow of humidity, and certainly this is not a bad idea. We’re just not convinced it makes a whole lot of difference, unless you’re one of those “marrying” types who wants all the cigar aromas to blend together as they age. In that case, what the hell, remove it from the tube.

Cigars should be left in their packaging when stored, but taking them out of their packaging is not really that different. For us, the transportability and protection of the packaging is what tips the scales. It really comes down to a personal choice. The environment inside your humidor is 99% of what makes or breaks a cigar. Packaging is the other 1%.

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