Choosing The Right Humidifier For Your Cigars
Despite what some people (including us) may tell you, there is no single best solution for maintaining your humidor’s humidity levels. As a rule, we personally favour Boveda over the alternatives. Nevertheless, you may find that their offerings don’t quite suit your needs.
Overall, humidors can be humidified with the following (from cheapest to most expensive):
We’ll now break down their advantages and disadvantages so you can decide which to use.
Floral Foam For Humidifying Cigars
Often supplied with more affordable cigar humidors, the distinctive green foam is usually case in a plastic frame. However, we’re not going to waste too much time discussing floral foam for humidifying cigars.
In short, they’re trash. Floral foam is recharged with propylene glycol on a weekly basis. This messy procedure is ineffective to say the least as the cigars closest to the foam will likely go mouldy while those further away will dry out.
While they are indeed cheap, you might as well as well do like our ancestors and fill your humidor with apples and carrots to keep the contents moist.
Humidity Packs For Humidors
As we’ve mentioned it several times so far, you may have gathered that we’re quite fond of humidity packs. Versatile, affordable, and available in a range of accurate humidity levels, they’re the safest and easiest way to humidify your humidor.
While there are other brands, we’re mostly familiar with Boveda and how they work. Therefore, we can’t really attest to the effectiveness of the others. What we love about Boveda is that the reverse-osmosis membrane will offer two-way humidification with the salt solution inside.
This ensures that moisture is evenly distributed throughout the container. If the levels get too high, the packs will even absorb the excess amounts to prevent your cigars getting mouldy.
As you will have read above, humidity packs aren’t just reserved for smaller humidors or those for travelling. In fact, there are larger models that are great for coolers and cabinets.
Additionally, you can’t overdo it with packs unlike every other type of humidifier. You can add as many packs as you want to your storage and it won’t go over its designed level.
Some people may complain that humidity packs are costly because they dry out regularly. However, we would argue that this is usually due to a leaky humidor in our experience.
Indeed, weak seals that allow for humidity exchange will cause the packs to prematurely dry out. Otherwise, they should endure between 6 and 12 months.
Silica Beads For Humidors
Alongside salt solution humidity packs, silica beads are the only other devices that offer two-way humidification. A product invented following the First World War, silica gel has been used by countless industries to maintain humidity.
For instance, you’re probably mostly familiar with them when buying certain products. In this case, they’re in their hardened, dry form, and are made to absorb excess humidity. Meanwhile, those used for humidification for cigars will have absorbed around 40 times their weight in water.
With careful calibration using propylene glycol or distilled water depending on the brand, silica beads can produce a fixed humidity level. However, this is an art more than a science. Furthermore, they need recharging every few weeks so it’s easy to make a mistake (or a mess) every time you do it.
As mentioned earlier, silica beads offer two-way humidification. That said, they are most effective at absorbing moisture but can sometimes be too slow in releasing it.
Crystal Gel For Humidors
On the surface, crystal gel is quite similar to silica beads. However, their properties are actually quite different. Instead, the crystals are made from polymers that can absorb more than 10 times more moisture than silica.
Conversely, recharging them is somewhat easier. Rather than adding a specific amount, you add the brand’s designated solution until no more can be absorbed. Afterwards, you simply tip out the excess water and you’re ready to go.
Gel crystals are at their most effective with leaky humidors or when faced with very dry conditions. Unlike silica, they release large amounts of moisture in a very short period of time. On the other hand, they only offer one-way humidification.
As a result, it’s easy to over-humidify with crystal gel, which can cause an outbreak of mould.
Finally, a decent indicator that the gel needs recharging is when it begins to shrink, which usually occurs once a month.
After a few years of use, you may notice that crystal gel struggles to absorb the recharging liquid or release moisture so it’ll eventually need replacing. Meanwhile, silica beads can last three to four times longer.
Electronic Cigar Humidifiers
Unlike the other types of humidifiers detailed in this guide, electronic cigar humidifiers run on an external power supply. Most of the time, they need a mains power supply but some models can run on batteries, which has a reputation for being somewhat reliable.
Needless to say, they’re not designed for travelling. In fact, most models often need to be kept upright to avoid their cartridges spilling onto your cigars.
On the other hand, electronic cigar humidors tend to be much more powerful than their passive counterparts. As they’re often made with in-built ventilation, they can effortlessly diffuse sufficient moisture throughout even the largest cabinets.
Although they only offer one-way humidification, they are able to actively track humidity levels inside the humidor. Therefore, they only kick in when humidity level drop below a certain thresholds.
With advances in technology, some electronic humidifiers can be particularly sophisticated.
For instance, certain models be able to anticipate how far the humidity levels need to drop before releasing just enough for the humidor’s volume. Meanwhile, other models come with Wi-Fi and can be paired with certain smart sensors such as the Cig Sor.
Recharging is often quite simple and consists of just refilling the cartridge once a month with distilled water. This, however, will need replacing once a year. Additionally, some models have a variety of cartridge sizes for different cigar counts.
Unfortunately, all technology has its quirks. Occasionally, electronic cigar humidifiers can be somewhat inaccurate and are wholly dependant on their in-built hygrometers. If this breaks down or needs calibrating, it could have drastic consequences.
Now that you’ve seen the best humidifiers and have learned about the different varieties, why don’t you also check out our related guides below: