How To Use Boveda Packs: We Review How To Retrofit Your Humidor With Boveda
How To Use Boveda Packs: We Review How To Retrofit Your Humidor With BovedaCharles-Philippe2019-12-20T16:03:27-05:00
Boveda is one of the leading humidification solutions for cigar storage on the market today. With a selection of different relative humidity percentages and pack sizes, there are different ways that they can be best used.
In this guide, we review why Boveda is our favourite best humidity device and how to effectively use it to safely store your cigars. You can scroll down to read it all or jump ahead by using the following links:
Boveda Inc. (meaning “vault” in Spanish) is an American company based it Minnetonka, Minnesota. It was first known as Humidipak Inc. when founded in 1997 but rebranded as Boveda in 2012.
Originally a company that sought to develop a multi-purpose product, the concept was engineered by Albert Saari and Robert Esse, a formulations chemist and a packaging expert respectively.
The resulted was a patented pack that consists of a suspended and saturated solution of specially-engineered salts inside a permeable “reverse osmosis” membrane. Their products are ISO-certified, FDA-approved, and are even manufactured to GMP standards.
Furthermore, Boveda’s humidity packs are also used for musical instruments, food, legal cannabis, and much more. However, they’re best known for cigar storage, which is why a growing number of humidor brands are turning to Boveda as their default humidification system.
Why Use Boveda For You Humidor?
At Bespoke Unit, we have had many trial and error run-ins with a plethora of different humidity systems. When we discovered Boveda, we realised that they offered the most simplest and care-free solution.
As we sincerely love Boveda so much, we sought to develop a special relationship with by becoming ambassadors for the brand. Therefore, before detailing the different ways that you can use Boveda for your cigar storage solutions, let us expand on why we believe it’s the best option to use.
Firstly, Boveda produce the only affordable device that offers two-way humidification thanks to the aforementioned permeable “reverse osmosis” membrane.
As a result, Boveda packs don’t just release moisture when humidity levels drop but they also absorb excess levels too. This is particularly handy if you store cigars somewhere with fluctuating temperatures.
Alternative humidity devices on a similar scale or budget would be devices such as foam or gel equipped with distilled water and sometimes propelyne glycol. Unlike Boveda packs, they only diffuse moisture through constant evaporation and do so at the maximum possible rate.
Evenly Distributed Humidity
Due to the various chemical used, they also release byproducts along with the moisture, which may taint the cigars. Meanwhile, Boveda packs can only release and absorb pure water vapour.
Furthermore, traditional types of humidification devices will release concentrated amounts of moisture around a fixed perimeter, which may not always diffuse throughout the humidor.
This means that nearby cigars may be exposed to humidity levels near 90% whereas distant ones will receive significantly less. Similarly, there may be pockets and corners that don’t receive any moisture at all.
Consequently, many cigar enthusiasts will regularly rotate their cigars inside the humidity and move them around to ensure that they receive similar amounts of humidity. However, it’s more of an art than a science and it can be easy to make mistakes even with experience.
However, Boveda packs release only a fixed level of humidity, which is evenly distributed throughout the humidor. Therefore, little to no maintenance is required when they are installed in your humidor.
A Low Maintenance Solution
If used in a well-sealed and seasoned environment, Boveda humidity packs have the potential to last up to a year before they need replacing. That said, most humidors are made from wood, which naturally breathes throughout the day. Therefore, they may last somewhat less depending on its quality.
Nevertheless, their humidity packs will provide the same amount of moisture throughout their lifespan and don’t require recharging. Even when they have become hard, they continue to produce some moisture before being replaced.
In comparison, traditional humidification solutions will require frequent recharging to ensure that they don’t dry up.
These can actually be quite messy as loose liquids are poured in or near the humidor, which can find their way onto the cigars. Since Boveda packs don’t require this and evenly distribute their moisture, there is also an added benefit in that they can comfortably touch cigars without damaging them.
In fact, it’s perfectly fine to place the cigars on the packs and vice versa without any risks. Therefore, it’s also a compact solution that doesn’t take any excess space in the humidor.
Not only can you comfortably set and leave the Boveda packs without periodically checking them, but there is a rich selection of different humidity levels depending on your needs.
Can You Recharge Boveda Packs?
You may have heard that it is possible to recharge Boveda humidity packs by submersing them in distilled water. However, this isn’t a practice that recommend. Indeed, it is possible and some cigar enthusiasts do it often. Nevertheless, Boveda humidity packs weren’t designed for this procedure.
When recharging Boveda packs, they can easily become over-saturated with water. Furthermore, the membrane can be punctured or experience what are known as micro-scrapes when the salt forms into a solid state.
Consequently, recharged Boveda packs become somewhat unreliable and perform differently with varying levels of humidity. This can even be detrimental to the condition of your cigars, which is why we prefer not to take the risk.
Admittedly, we have received a lot of criticism for this belief in the video above. Nevertheless, we believe that recharging isn’t worth the risk given their value for money and their overall affordability compared to the value of your cigars.
Of course, you’re welcome to recharge Boveda packs but you do so at your own risk. That said, if you feel that you need to recharge Boveda packs because they last for a very short amount of time, it may not be them that are at fault.
Instead, it could be because you have a leaking humidor with weak seals. Typically, Boveda packs should last you anywhere between six months to a year. Given that they can cost you as little as $3.58 each if you buy a 60 gram 12-pack for $42.99, they’re actually very cheap.
Therefore, you may benefit from enjoying better long-term value for money if you invest in a new humidor entirely. If you need recommendations, we host a number of guides for the best humidors to buy online.
What Boveda Pack Size & How Many Should You Use?
There are a total of five different humidity pack sizes that can be used in various situations. Each size is listed in metric grams, which relates to weight of the pack’s contents.
However, not all of them are adapted for cigars. For instance, their 1 and 4 gram options that we haven’t listed below are typically used for retail packaging.
Firstly, bear in mind that you can’t over-humidify a container with Boveda packs thanks to their two-way membrane. Similarly, plastic and acrylic humidors can occasionally use slightly fewer Boveda packs if the seal is fully air-tight.
8-Gram Boveda Packs: For Travel Humidors
This Boveda pack is rarely used for long-term cigar storage with the exception of the small Boveda Humidor Bag. Instead, it is often presented as a temporary solution for shipping or travelling.
Generally, an 8-gram pack can provide enough moisture for around 5 cigars. Although we’ll usually use the larger 60-gram Boveda packs when possible, the smaller 8-gram ones are quite useful for either cigar cases or travel humidors.
If you’re lucky, some retailers may even slip a small Boveda pack into a zip-lock bag with your purchase if they’re feeling generous. This used to be somewhat rare but it’s now quite common as more tobacconists are becoming aware of Boveda.
60-Gram Boveda Packs: For Tupperdors & Desktop Humidors
It’s unlikely that you haven’t stumbled upon the standard Boveda humidity pack. A universal and versatile device, we use the 60-gram packs the most and they can be found in both our travel and desktop humidors.
Overall, the 60-gram pack can provide enough moisture for 25 cigars. However, it’s important to note that this number isn’t the quantity of cigars that you have but the humidor’s advertised storage capacity.
The number of packs that you use can be multiplied according to each 25-count storage capacity. Therefore, a 100-count cigar humidor will require 4 humidity packs.
However, they also function with larger desktop humidors too. For instance, we also recently adapted a wooden humidor with a 320g Boveda pack held by a metal plate on the lid.
Unlike the other packs, they aren’t designed according to humidor count but to the available space. In short, a single 320g Boveda pack can provide enough moisture for a single square foot of storage space. Therefore, you’ll need to calculate the size of coolidor or cabinet accordingly.
Which Is The Right Relative Humidity Level For You?
As mentioned above, a particular convenience of Boveda is that you can choose a specific humidity level according to your needs. Their humidity levels are also accurate to within 1% of what is printed on the packs.
While these packs are very reliable, we would still recommend a calibrated hygrometer. After all, there are plenty of external factors such as the humidor’s material, its seal, and even the outside temperature and humidity.
In this section of our review, we’ll break down the variety of humidity levels that are adapted to a variety of storage options. Like the sizes, not all of them are adapted for cigars. For instance, 32% and 49% are designed for musical instruments while 58% and 62% are made for legal cannabis.
Additionally, Boveda refers to relative humidity (RH) when describing the performance of its devices. Unlike, absolute humidity, this takes temperature into account. However, we’ll cover this in greater detail in a future guide.
Finally, please note that you shouldn’t mix packs of different percentages because they can end up working against one another. Instead, it’s important to make sure that all of them are at the same level.
62% Boveda Packs: Long-Term Ageing
With a little experience, you’ll be able to decide on the specific humidity level that you prefer according to your personal preferences. Each humidity level can actually contribute to an altogether different smoking experience. Therefore, you can try different ones to see which you prefer.
For instance, we’re not the only ones to have discovered the benefits of using low RH levels for long-term storage. If you’re seeking to age your cigars over the course of several years, you might want to consider a lower moisture level to optimise the process.
Combined with a cool and consistent temperature, the cigars will essentially sit in a balanced “limbo” state that allows a progressive yet controlled ageing process.
Some argue that the precise temperature isn’t quite as important as long as it’s consistent. Nevertheless, we tend to aim to simulate cellar conditions of between 10°C (50°F) to 15°C (60°F).
However, we wouldn’t usually recommend smoking them at this level. While some people do and it’s a matter of personal preference, we will instead acclimate them to a higher RH level beforehand.
Although this technique mostly applies to Cubans, some Dominican puros may benefit from this approach as well.
65% Boveda Packs: Adapted For Cubans
Although 62% Boveda packs are a possible choice for ageing, 65% tends to be best suited to typical Cuban cigar storage. This is because Cuban cigars can usually absorb more moisture than so-called “New World” cigars. Therefore, they can actually perform better at a slightly lower humidity level. Also, they may even develop mould in high humidity levels.
Similarly, some Dominican cigars are better stored at 65% as well as a few Puros. However, this depends on the brand and its resulting blend.
Additionally, some people actually prefer to put cigars in long-term storage or even age them in a lower humidity environment. Usually, this is combined with a lower and consistent temperature too.
69% Boveda Packs: Ideal For Airtight Humidors
Effectively the default RH level for Boveda humidity packs, 69% creates the ideal environment for your cigars. Rather than design a simple 70% pack, which is said to be the ideal level, the 69% stays just under to ensure that it never goes over.
However, it’s presumed that this is paired with an airtight storage solution. For instance, 69% humidity packs work best with acrylic humidors or well-sealed DIY storage solutions such as coolidors and tupperdors.
Nevertheless, they can successfully work with some premium wooden humidors. If it doesn’t reach the desired level, you may want to consider the humidity level above instead.
72% Boveda Packs: Wooden Humidors
This particular humidity level isn’t just good for wooden humidors but is also recommended for seasoning musical instrument cases. However, this isn’t particularly relevant.
If you have a typical wooden humidor, 72% humidity packs may be the best solution to take compensate for any minor imperfections. We also tend to use this humidity level for both cigar cases and travel humidors as they tend to have weaker seals.
That said, it should really only be used in a scenario where there is some mild humidity exchange. If your humidor is air-tight, it may actually cause your cigars to be over-humidified.
75% Boveda Packs: Best For Leaky Humidors
If you have a humidor or a storage solution with a particularly poor seal, 75% Boveda packs will provide you with the opportunity to still keep your cigars safe. This is also a good option if you’re travelling and only have a typical zip-lock bag.
We would only use this as a short-term fail-safe or as a stop-gap, though, as we generally don’t recommend using an unreliable humidor. Instead, this could be a temporary solution while saving up or looking for a quality humidor where you won’t have this problem.
If you need a few recommendations, head to our guide to the top 10 best humidors to buy online. In this guide, we cover all price points so you’ll likely find something that suits your particular budget.
84% Boveda Packs: Made For Seasoning
This high-humidity pack isn’t actually made for storing cigars but for a two-week humidor seasoning process. Rather than the messy and short-lived traditional wipe-down method, Boveda’s seasoning packs are designed to fully penetrate a wooden humidor’s cellular structure.
Although the process it’s longer than traditional methods, it’s considerably thorougher. Therefore, it’s our recommend approach. If you weren’t aware of this essential process, we highly recommend that you look into it as a dry humidor isn’t just ineffective but detrimental to your cigars.
To be perfectly honest, you don’t actually need to do anything to begin using Boveda in your humidor. As described above, the product was designed to be simple and without any inconveniences.
Technically, you just need to make sure that there are no other humidity devices present. Following that, you can just throw in the sufficient number of Boveda packs of the appropriate RH as we described above.
By the way, remember to remove them from their plastic wrapper first otherwise they won’t be activated!
However, you can customise your humidor if you want it to appear more presentable. Boveda offer a number of different trays and supports for holding its packs in place, which look great and keep the interior organised.
We’re particularly fond of the cedar Boveda supports, which can hold two 60 g packs in place. Alternatively, there’s the aforementioned metal tray for the larger 320g packs.
These can be put onto the underside of the lid using the supplied magnetic and velcro pads. However, they may be difficult to place as many humidors tend to have wooden frames on the lid for their supplied humidity devices.
Nevertheless, these are usually relatively simple as they are often just glued or nailed into place. With a flat blade or screw-driver, they often pop right off. Still, be careful as you don’t want to damage the humidor and we can’t be held responsible if you do!
Can You Calibrate A Hygrometer With Boveda Packs?
Whether you were aware of it before or not, calibrating a hygrometer is of the utmost importance. In fact, most hygrometers can be inaccurate by nearly 10%, which can cause issues with your storage if it’s your point of reference.
You may have heard of a salt method for calibrating a humidor where you use a bottle cap filled with salt and water in a container. However, these are actually very inaccurate given that the containers are rarely air-tight, the quantities of salt may vary, and they may have additives.
We thought that it would be particularly interesting for this review to highlight that Boveda have actually designed specific kits for calibrating your hygrometers that you can easily use instead. These essentially consist of miniature but highly accurate Boveda packs inside double-laminated air-tight zip-lock bags.
There are two versions available that are either 75% or 32% RH. You can use the 75% on its own, which will provide to 2.5% accuracy. Meanwhile, you can do the two-point calibration process where you also use the 32%, which brings it to 1.5% accuracy.
In both cases, the hygrometer simply sits in the bag and you can then adjust its reading once 24 hours have elapsed.
Although it is possible to calibrate a hygrometer using a typical Boveda pack, it’s not the most reliable approach. However, you can do this at a push if you have a small container that you’re confident is perfectly air-tight. Nevertheless, the method described above is far more accurate and gets the best results.
Boveda Humidors & Hygrometers
With its growing successful and reputation for quality products, Boveda has expanded its range to include more products. As mentioned earlier, Boveda have released a range of humidor bags that provide you with a quick and cheap storage solution.
Made from double-laminated plastic, they also feature a heavy-duty zip lock and are delivered with the necessary number of Boveda packs. All you need to do is pull it open and you have an affordable humidor that will last up to a year before it degrades.
These are available in small, medium, and large with the smallest allowing for 4 or 5 cigars while the largest can store several boxes.
For a more permanent solution, Boveda also released their acrylic humidors. What sets these apart from most desktop humidors is that they offer air-tight magnetic seals. Furthermore, the acrylic construction mens that they don’t require seasoning and can be used immediately.
These humidors are available in two sizes, they’re equipped with trays underneath may for the Boveda packs so they don’t get in the way. While they may seem slightly pricey, they’re a low-maintenance option that’s far more presentable than a regular tupperdor. We believe that they’re well worth the investment.
Finally, Boveda have also launched their own smart sensor, the Boveda Butler. This bluetooth-enabled device allows you to read and even track both the temperature and humidity inside your humidor. You can consult the readings on your phone and don’t even need to open it to check.
Where To Buy Boveda Humification Packs
Another convenience is that Boveda is one of the most widely available humidification devices that you can buy online. They’re readily available on Amazon and can be bought in bulk if necessary.
We like to buy them in large quantities so that we have a stock if our older ones need changing. As long as they’re in their plastic wrapper, they won’t perish and lose their humidity.
Similarly, many cigar retailers and tobacconists have started stocking on Boveda too. While their selection may not be as varied, they will usually have what you need to cover the basics.