We explore the ways cigar aficionados can maintain the freshness of their cigars
From the Print Edition:
Sylvester Stallone, Mar/Apr 98
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Most humidors have an interior made of untreated Spanish cedar, the preferred wood for humidifying and aging premium cigars. The wood needs to be humidified, or seasoned, before the box is ready to hold cigars. (Some humidors have varnished or finished wood interiors that don't need to be seasoned.)
Take a new sponge -- make sure it is unscented and free of soap -- and wet it with a liberal dose of distilled water. Wipe down all the exposed wood, including any trays and dividers, and 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 wiped down the wood, squirt the sponge with more distilled water, then place it inside the humidor on a plastic bag -- to avoid direct 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.
Close the humidor with its humidifying element and the damp sponge, and leave it overnight. The next day, refresh the humidification device (it may not need it) 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, and then remove the sponge and plastic bag. The walls of the humidor have now absorbed all the water they need, and now you can safely store your cigars.
THINGS NOT TO DO
Most of the time, if you let cigars dry out, you have to write off your investment as a learning experience, albeit sometimes an expensive one. In some cases, cigars can be reconditioned through weeks in a good humidor, but it's a tricky business, and best left to someone with great patience and experience. If you insist on trying to do it yourself, proceed slowly. Over a period of several weeks, gradually move the cigars from the outer corners into the center of your humidor.
All of the other myths about how to restore dried-out cigars are just that -- myths. Remember that a cigar has many layers of tobacco. It's disastrous for the various layers to become moist or dry out at different rates. For example, if a cigar is placed in a hyper-moist environment, and then taken out of that moist environment, the outside dries and shrinks while the inside is still swollen, and the cigar splits open. (Not a pretty sight.)
Here are some of the odder suggestions we've heard. Don't try them. EVER.
* Put your cigars in the bathroom and run the shower until the hot water gives out.
* Steam them in the upper rack of a dishwasher.
* Sneak them into the steam room at the health club.
HOW TO CARRY CIGARS