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Seasoning Your Humidor

I know for cigars to be stored properly they must be placed in a humidor. Do I need to do anything to the humidor beforehand?
Posted: January 3, 2012

Yes, you must "season" the humidor.

It's a different method of seasoning, of course. (Humidors don't perform well when filled with oil and put over an open flame.) But the wood interior of the humidor needs to absorb humidity before it can become the ideal home for your cigars. Here's what to do.

With a new sponge—unscented, free of soap and liberally dosed with distilled water—wipe down all exposed wood, including any trays and dividers, as well as the interior lid. Avoid using a paper towel or a fraying cloth; these will literally leave a paper trail on the wood. After you've wet the wood, squirt the sponge with more distilled water, then place it inside the humidor on a plastic bag (to avoid contact with the wood) and close the lid.

Next, prepare your humidification device according to the manufacturer's instructions. Unless the manufacturer specifically states that you can use tap water, use only distilled water. Tap water contains minerals that will destroy most humidification systems by leaving deposits that will clog the humidor element. Once the humidification element is filled, be sure to wipe it down to remove all the excess water. Rest it on a hand towel for approximately 30 minutes.

Add the humidifying element to the humidor and close the lid, leaving the damp sponge inside, and leave it overnight. The next day, refresh the humidification device if it needs more water, and check the sponge. If it is fairly dry, add more distilled water. If it is very damp, leave it alone.

Let the humidor sit another night, then remove the sponge and plastic bag. The walls of the humidor have now absorbed all the water they need, and you can safely add cigars.

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Comments   15 comment(s)

Ed Hargus — Oak Lawn, IL, USA,  —  October 19, 2010 11:10pm ET

How long will the humidor stay seasoned for or how often should I do this?

Ricardo Soto — San Diego, CA, USA,  —  October 20, 2010 3:54am ET

I don't remember doing this when I first got my humidor which I had for a couple of years now; is it to late to do that treatment to my humidor now? How often should I do this?

David Savona October 20, 2010 10:19am ET

Seasoning is something you do to a new humidor, so if you didn't do it when you first got your humidor you need not do it now. The reason you season is to allow the wood to absorb moisture. A dry, unseasoned humidor will suck up moisture at first, and if you put your cigars in there too soon you risk drying them out. Once the humidor has been seasoned, or once the humidor has been running for a time, it should handle the humidity just fine.

Note that some humidor makers pre-season their humidors, so this step wouldn't be necessary.

W JASON RAMOS — ESCONDIDO, CA, UNITED STATES,  —  October 23, 2010 5:15pm ET

I used to season my smaller humidors just as was described here, but a few years ago I read an article that indicated that wiping down the inside of a new humidor could damage it. Their suggestion was to put the distilled water in a cup inside the humidor for a few days. I usually take note of what is written here on your website, and I must admit I am a little confused now. In Februrary of this year I bought a large cigar cabinet that holds approx. 4000 and I followed my normal procedure. Any thoughts Dave?

Thomas Mueller — Essex Junction, VT, 05452,  —  November 22, 2010 11:30am ET

Jason, I am sure Dave can speak better to this than I, however I think they were describing the effects of "over seasoning" or using a sponge that is too wet. The trick is to not soak the wood, rather to just lightly wipe a "damp" not "wet" sponge across the wood. By the time you get all the surfaces coated you should have streaks that are already beginning to dry. This will make sure that you are not adding too much water too quickly to the wood, thus preventing warping of the cedar. It is better to take the time to season the wood and not try to force the moisture into the fibers by over wetting. I hope this helps clear things up.

Jeffrey Goodin — Wake Forest, North Carolina, USA,  —  January 7, 2012 6:26am ET

Great posts! Just got my first small humidor and got advice from the JR guys as well as several patrons that wiping down the interior surface with a damp lint-free cloth And setting a small cup or shot glass of water inside for several days seasons it well. buying a quality hygrometer instead of the cheap-o that comes with the box is a good idea too...

Chris Moreno — Nanuet, New York, United States,  —  January 17, 2012 3:40pm ET

Yes I have tried just placing a glass with water in my humidor to season it before. I have found that alone this does not do the trick. I find the best method is wiping the wood with a damp sponge as well as placing a shot glass of distilled water in the humidor.

rklapsley January 17, 2012 11:20pm ET

Humidor makers do not recommend using this sponge method, nor does XIKAR. Xikar has videos on their site showing how to do it. The maker of my humidor says that doing the sponge method will ruin your humidor. I will take his advise, since these things are expensive and do not want to warp the wood. Raising humidity isn't rocket science..Cup of water for a few days does the trick.

Toshi Okumiya — Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,  —  February 1, 2012 5:48am ET

Humidity of where you live will also affect which method works better. Up here in dry Alberta, I was told to fill a shallow bowl with boiled distiller water and let the steam fill the humidor. Repeat 2 to 3 times and should be seasoned.

Raleigh Burns — Spicewood, tx, usa,  —  March 29, 2012 10:51pm ET

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Do NOT wipe down unfinished wood with water. I've seen this method float around so so many times and it's not right. It's a good way to swell the wood and warp it. Of course it works but it's like using a sledge hammer to drive a nail. The best way to SAFELY season a humidor is slowly. Think about it. Wood is a natural fiber and Cedar is very course. If you live in a dryer climate or the humidor is coming to you dried out. Soaking the wood can really do structural damage to the box. If you're in a rush and don't care, sponge it and cross your fingers. If you have a nice humidor and you want to do it RIGHT, seasoning is a simple process of slowly acclimating the interior to 70% humidity. Otherwise the wood will continuously soak in the moisture of the humidifier and you'll have a very erratic hygrometer reading for months until the interior cedar absorbs enough moisture to reach equilibrium with an ambient 70% humidity. When you buy a new humidor, go to your local cigar shop. Make a new buddy and buy a box of something nice. Then ask the guy or gal if you can bring in your humidor and leave it in their walk in for a few days (open). after 2-3 days, go back and put in a humidifier and close the humidor. Get it home quick. The longer you leave it in the better. For shorter runs, take a big sponge, put in ontop of a ziplock freezer bag to keep the water from hitting the wood. leave it in there with the humidifiers until you get it to 74%. Put in your cigars, take out ziplock and sponge. The new sticks should soak up the 4% extra humidity and get you to 70%. Remember, you gotta keep some cigars in the humidor to keep it rock stable. Empty humidors drink water fast. The cigars actually hold moisture and stabilize the humidity.

CJ Sheets June 6, 2013 2:44pm ET

There are so many varying viewpoints on the proper way to season a humidor.

I just purchased my first humidor. I did not wipe down the wood at all. However, I did use the evaporative sponge technique, where I dampened a new sponge with distilled water and placed it on a ziplock bag. I also filled the humidifier which came with my humidor and placed that in there as well.

Over the past 2 days the ambient humidity has slowly risen to 85%, and has maintained this humidity for 12 hours. I checked the sponge and humidifier after 24 hours, and they were still plenty damp, so I just closed the lid and didn't touch anything. Question, is an 85% ambient RH enough for the cedar to absorb moisture? How will I know when she's properly seasoned?

Note: Once I'm ready to place my cigars into the humidor I'll remove the humidifier which came with it and replace with Xikar 4oz beads and Xikar PG solution.

Yuri Oushakoff September 19, 2013 12:50pm ET

I recently bought a used humidor off of ebay. I tried to contact the previous owner to see if it has ever been seasoned but no response. I'm leaning towards seasoning it anyway. Will that hurt anything if it has in fact been seasoned before?

Christopher Chambers — Richmond, Texas, USA,  —  December 28, 2013 8:12pm ET

So recently in the local cigar lounge a debate popped up over seasoning humidors and I found this article. Here's my Question: Does anyone know about using the Boveda 84 packs to season your humidor? The shop by my house sells humidors and they suggest putting a Boveda 84 pack into the humidor and leaving it in there closed for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks they say it will be seasoned and to take it out and either replace it with a Boveda 72 or to use a distilled water humidifier. Does this method work???!?

Joseph Vara — Nanuet, New York, U. S. A,  —  January 15, 2014 10:21pm ET

So once a new humidor is properly seasoned that process doesn't have to happen again? Just maintain the humidifiers?

Peter Brown — Brussel, Brussel, Belgium,  —  May 28, 2014 2:55am ET

Active seasoning is using an active humidifier to season your humidor. Seasoning your humidor with a explosion glass of distilled water.

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