(2) Don’t use plain water to fill your humidification device. The best thing to use is a mixture of distilled water and propylene glycol. You can buy 8 oz. of pre-mixed solution at most cigar shops for between $5 and $10. Some people swear by an 80-20 mixture, and other say it should be a 50-50 solution. I’ve never noticed a difference.
Propylene glycol solution usually comes in little squirt bottles, making it easy to “charge” the foam inside your humidification device. Just add enough to saturate the foam. Don’t overdo it.
(3) What the heck is propylene glycol? Good question. It’s the same stuff they use to de-ice airplane wings at some airports, unless they’re using its sister chemical, ethylene glycol. It’s going to form a thin layer on the top of the green sponge that’s at the heart of your humidification element. Think of it as a regulator: It sheds and accumulates moisture to keep things at about 70 percent humidity. Handy stuff.
Note: Some super-expensive humidifiers, like those in Diamond Crown humidors, are designed for water only. Check the label. And I recommend using distilled water so mineral deposits, chlorine and bacteria don’t change the flavor of your cigars.
(4) Your humidor must be humidified before you use it. It’s lined with cedar wood, and it’s bone-dry when you open it for the first time. If you fill it with cigars right away, the humidity will go in the wrong direction — from your cigars to the wood — and your precious Montecristos will be left with all the moistness of billiard chalk. Unless your humidor is at around 70 percent humidity.
So before you start using that new humidor, get it “seasoned.” Fill a shallow food storage container, a soup bowl, or something similar with distilled water and put it inside the humidor. Then fill up your humidification device with propylene glycol solution and put that in there too.
Make sure your hygrometer is calibrated — see #1 above — and check it once a day until it reads 70 percent. Once you get there, you’re ready to open up your own cigar emporium right next to that neighbor kid’s lemonade stand. (RELATED: The whiz kid and his Diesel)
One way of speeding up the process for larger humidors is to soak some cedar strips in distilled water and put one on each shelf. By cedar strips I mean those thin, wooden divider sheets that come in some cigar boxes to separate the top row from the bottom. (Padrón cigars come with them, and some Drew Estates cigars, and probably many others.) Not only will the cedar-to-cedar transfer of moisture make the process go faster, but the whole humidor will smell wonderful.