A humidor is a device which keeps tobacco products in a stable environment, with a humidity level that is optimal for their storage. A cigar humidor is the most common form of a humidor, as cigars taste better when they have been aged for several months to a year and kept in a humidor so that that they do not dry out or get too damp. The design of a cigar humidor is simple; it is a wooden box or room, depending on how many cigars need to be stored, with a humidifying device which is refilled periodically. The most common way to maintain humidity in a cigar humidor is a moist sponge kept mounted inside the humidor in a location where it will not touch the cigars, but will maintain a steady humidity rate.
The personal cigar humidor is usually designed to accommodate a small case of cigars, and can be set on a table or shelf for storage. Usually, personal humidors are also designed to be decorative, so that they serve a beautifying function as well as a practical one. Larger cigar humidors are designed to store stocks for stores and production companies, and could more properly be viewed as climate and humidity controlled rooms. Ideally, cigars should be stored at an ambient temperature of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), and in humidity levels ranging between 64-74%.
A cigar humidor can be built from several different kinds of woods, but the most popular choice is Spanish cedar. This wood retains moisture well, adds to the flavor of the cigars, and will keep out pests that may infest the cigars, rendering them unsmokable. When a cigar humidor is initially purchased, it will need to be properly seasoned before cigars can be stored in it, and the hygrometer, the device used to measure humidity, should be calibrated.
To season a cigar humidor, the inside should be wiped down with a sponge soaked in distilled water. The sponge is set inside the cigar humidor on a piece of plastic wrap to prevent it from touching the wood, and the humidifying device should be filled with distilled water or a manufacturer's recommended humidifying solution. The humidor is closed for 24 hours before being opened and wiped down again. The sponge should be removed before the humidor is closed for another 24 hours, and then it will be ready for use, as long as the inside does not feel damp.
To calibrate a hygrometer, it should be placed into a plastic bag along with a bottle cap or similar small container filled with salt and a few drops of water. When kept in a sealed environment, salt will maintain a consistent humidity, and this property can be used to calibrate devices designed to measure humidity. After six hours, the hygrometer should read 75%. If it does not, it should be manually adjusted, if it allows you to do that. If not, remember the discrepancy when taking humidity readings, to make sure that your cigars will be kept in optimal conditions.