How To Season A Humidor the Right Way

closed red humidor

Key Takeaways

  • Seasoning a humidor: A process to prepare a new humidor for storing cigars. It involves raising the humidity level inside the humidor to around 70%.
  • Steps to season: Check and adjust the hygrometer, wipe the interior with distilled water, activate and place the humidification device, and add a water source.
  • Time to season: It can take a few days to achieve the optimal humidity, depending on the climate and the humidor. Monitor the hygrometer reading regularly.
  • Humidor maintenance: Keep the humidor away from direct sunlight, refill the humidifier device as needed, use distilled water or activating solution, and replace the foam humidifier device annually.

If you’re investing in cigars, you’ll want to keep them fresh. Keep a humidor close by to avoid them drying out.

For those yet to come by a humidor, it is simply a storage container designed to keep the humidity levels inside within a steady range. For best results, you need the humidity to be around 70%. 

If you just got your humidor, you cannot just start using it right away by placing the cigars in it. The first step is to season the humidor and get it up to the optimal humidity level first. We will look at how to season a humidor in this guide to get you up to speed.

Reasons for Seasoning a Humidor

Before we can look at the humidor seasoning process, first, it is worth understanding why it is done in the first place. 

If the humidor is not operating at the right humidity level, you end up with dried cigars. I doubt that’s something you’re eager to experience.

Cigars losing moisture means losing flavor, making the smoking experience pretty shoddy.

Some brands will give you instructions on seasoning the humidor. Nevertheless, we have a tried and tested method below. Let us look to see how to get the humidor working correctly. 

The Humidor Seasoning Process

Now that you know what a humidor does, it is now time to get into how to season it properly.

What You Will Need

  • Humidor 
  • Salt and water mixture
  • Sponge or piece of clean cloth
  • Distilled water
  • Activating solution
  • Humidification device 

Calibrate the Hygrometer 

The hygrometer measures the humidity levels in the humidor, so it is vital to check if it is accurate or not.

Check out our guide to the best digital hygrometers for humidors here.

Fill a shot glass with a teaspoon of salt and then add a few water drops. Use enough water to make the salt damp but not enough to dissolve it. 

Transfer the mixture into a sealable bag and place it into the hygrometer. Give it up to eight hours and check the hygrometer reading.

Mixing salt and water should give the atmosphere in the bag a 75% humidity level. If the hygrometer has a different reading, adjust it for an accurate reading.

Dampen the Humidor

Though optional, this step will make the seasoning process faster. However, do not overdo it as it may damage the humidor. 

Soak a sponge or clean piece of cloth in distilled water. Do not use tap water since it contains minerals. These minerals can lead to false readings and leave deposits in the humidor.

Wring the soaked sponge or cloth to remove most of the water. You do not need it too wet. 

Use the soaked sponge to wipe the inside of the humidor. 

This step would aim to dampen the humidor inside rather than wet it. Too much water may damage the wood in the humidor.

You could still skip this step, but it would take longer for the humidor to achieve the recommended humidity. We recommend considering it.

Activate the humidification device 

A humidification device is part of your humidor. Its job is to maintain the proper humidity inside the humidor. 

Distilled water or an activating solution is required to activate the humidification device. Soak the device in the activating solution or distilled water to activate it.

Once soaked, wipe off the excess solution and place the humidification device on a towel. Give it a few minutes to ensure there is no liquid dripping from the humidification device. Remember, too much wetness is not good for wood

We recommend looking at the humidification device instructions before using the activating solution. Some models would also be prefilled, so you only need to use the humidifier device without adding an activating solution.

Some humidors will have foam humidification devices. Such a type of humidification device may not always give you optimal humidity after using them for a year or so.

Newer humidors are now using gel humidification devices for the best results and do not generally need much maintenance. 

Place the humidification device back into the humidor once it is activated. 

Add a seasoning agent to the humidor 

Do not let the word “seasoning agent” make it seem like a fancy product. It is simply a water source to get the humidor working at the right humidity level.

Using a sponge soaked in distilled water should do the trick as a seasoning agent. 

As always, do not let the water drip on the wood. Consider wringing out the water as much as possible. The aim is to have a damp sponge rather than a wet one. 

Place a plastic wrap in the humidor first and then place the damp sponge on top of it. This keeps the water from the sponge soaking into the humidor wood.

Others might use a water cup as the water source. If you go this route, ensure that the humidor is in a place where it will not be knocked over and spill the water inside it.

Close the humidor with the water source or seasoning agent inside and continue to the next step.

Give the humidor time to reach optimal humidity

Remember, we activated the humidification device, and now there is a seasoning agent as a water source too. The two help to gradually raise the humidity level in the humidor. 

Some might wonder what the optimal humidity would be for a humidor. 

Most cigar brands recommend keeping the humidor with a humidity level of 65% to 73%. The optimal humidity, as a result, should be around 70%.

When the humidor achieves this humidity, it will keep your cigars in perfect, flavorful condition.

This process can take a few days, depending on a few things.

The most notable is climate. Living in a dry area means it may take longer to achieve the desired humidity. Sometimes more humidification devices may be needed. 

Take out the seasoning agent after 48 hours. 

Keep the humidor cigar-free for at least 24 hours. The aim is to monitor the humidity levels just to be sure it is being maintained within the right range for cigar storage. 

Once you are sure the humidor is maintaining a humidity level of around 70%, you can add cigars to it.

Monitor the humidity levels 

Humidors should easily maintain the humidity levels within the right levels. However, if the humidity has dropped after a while, it could be that the humidification device needs recharging.

There can be more reasons why the humidor is losing humidity. The most common problem is that the cigars block the humidification device. Simply move the cigars, and this should not be an issue anymore. 

Although not so common, the humidor seal may also lead to a drop in humidity. Ensure to check the seals more often just to be sure they are not leading to loss of humidity.

How to Maintain a Humidor for Excellent Performance

open humidor with cigars inside

Proper humidor maintenance should leave you enjoying the best cigars in the market. Here is how you would maintain the humidor and keep it working properly. 

Proper seasoning is necessary

We have looked at the process of seasoning the humidor. From the process above, we are confident it should be easy for you to follow.

If the humidor is not seasoned properly, you might easily end up with dried cigars. That is the opposite of what you need the humidor to do. 

Keep the humidor out of the sun 

You are trying to keep the internal humidity at 70%, and having the humidor exposed to direct sunlight might prevent this from happening. 

It is advisable to keep the humidor in a cool dark place for the best performance. Still, ensure the place is not a humid environment as this may damage the wood. 

Keep the humidifier device filled 

You may come across different humidifier devices, including foam-based, gel, bead-based, and others. Whichever the case, you have to keep the humidifier device filled so that it works just as good. 

Each brand would likely have instructions to follow for recharging the humidifier device. Check on the humidifier every few weeks to see how good it is holding up.

Foam humidifier devices need replacing each year. The humidor is likely to have spares so simply change the old humidifier device with a fresh one for the best performance.

What is your seasoning agent?

Remember when we talked about the seasoning agent? It can be distilled water or an activating solution (mostly made of propylene glycol). The seasoning agent is also important for the maintenance of a humidor.

If you open the humidor more often, use distilled water as the seasoning agent. This is because it is cheaper and easier to refill. The frequent opening of a humidor leads to a drop in humidity.

The activating solution is good enough for those who do not open the humidor more often. 

Since propylene glycol is also an antifungal agent, it should keep any fungus from forming on the cigars. Thus you can store the cigars for longer, and they will still be fresh once you take them out. 

Keep an eye on the hygrometer 

The hygrometer is essential to tell you about the humidity level in the humidor.

We recommend checking on the hygrometer reading each week. If the humidity level is around 70%, then it is all good. However, if it keeps dropping drastically, it might be time to check what the issue is. 

Sometimes the humification device needs recharging after using it for several months. Another reason could be the cigars are blocking the humidification device. 

Always take the right steps to restore the humidity to the optimal level to keep the cigars fresh.

The Takeaway

A humidor is a crucial device to own for those who smoke cigars more often. Looking at its functionality, we see that it would be crucial for maintaining the cigars’ life span, moisture, and flavor. So, the next time you want to smoke your cigars, they will still be fresh.

The humidor will only work great if you also take the time to season it properly. Consider following the method we have discussed above to get the humidor working correctly. Alternatively, you can use the manufacturer’s instructions on how to season the humidor if it comes with such instructions.


If you enjoyed learning about how to season your humidor, check out some of our other cigar guides:

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