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L'Art de Préparer sa Cave à Cigares : Maîtriser l'Humidification pour une Conservation Parfaite

The Art of Preparing Your Cigar Humidor: Mastering Humidification for Perfect Conservation

After purchasing a cigar humidor, it is imperative to prepare it correctly before storing your precious cigars. The wood constituting the cellar is hygroscopic, that is to say it has the capacity to absorb humidity. Without proper preparation, the wood could rob the cigars of moisture, drying them out and damaging them beyond repair. Proper preparation of your humidor is therefore essential to ensure balanced humidity, thus preserving the quality and aromas of your cigars.

Preparing a humidor, in particular humidifying it before use, is a crucial step to guarantee optimal preservation of cigars. This article will guide you through the process of preparing your humidor, emphasizing the importance of humidification to maintain proper humidity.

Introduction to Cigar Storage

Preserving cigars isn't just a matter of keeping them out of reach; it is an art that requires careful attention to humidity and temperature. A humidor, also known as a humidor, is designed to recreate the ideal storage conditions, mimicking the tropical climate where cigars are typically made.

Why is Humidification Crucial?

Cigars are made from natural tobacco leaves, which are sensitive to environmental conditions. Adequate hygrometry (humidity level in the air) is essential to preserve the natural humidity of cigars and ensure even burning, rich flavor and long shelf life. Recommended humidity for storing cigars is between 65% and 72%.

Cigar Humidor Preparation Steps

  1. Choosing the Right Humidor : First and foremost, make sure your humidor is well designed. Spanish cedar humidors are particularly popular for their moisture-absorbing properties and their pleasant odor that can complement that of cigars.

  2. Calibrate the Hygrometer : First of all, it is crucial to calibrate your hygrometer, the tool that measures the humidity in the cellar. Hygrometers can be analog or digital, the latter being recognized for their precision. Although factory pre-calibrated, personal verification is recommended to ensure accuracy. To do this, the salt test is a reliable method. This test is based on the fact that a mixture of salt and water produces a humidity level of 75%. Place a mixture of salt and a few drops of water in a bottle cap, then in a plastic bag with the hygrometer for 8 to 12 hours. If the hygrometer does not read 75%, adjust it accordingly.

  3. Humidify the Humidor : Meticulous preparation is essential to optimize the use of a humidor, thus guaranteeing the ideal preservation of your precious cigars. This approach is broken down into several key stages, aimed at perfectly balancing the humidity within the cellar.

Method 1 - Active Cellar Preparation:

  • The first step after calibrating your hygrometer is to actively prepare the cellar. Start by submerging a clean sponge in distilled water or propylene glycol solution, making sure it is well saturated. After lightly wringing out the sponge to avoid excessive saturation, place it in the cellar, ideally on a plastic bag to protect the wood. The objective is to humidify the indoor air without directly wetting the wood in the cellar.
  • Continue by preparing the humidifier in your cellar. After soaking it in the same solution, let it drain on absorbent paper to remove excess liquid.
  • Then install the humidifier and hygrometer in the cellar. Close the cellar and allow the system to stabilize the humidity for approximately 48 hours, making sure to also include any wooden trays or dividers for them to acclimatize.
  • After 48 hours, the sponge should be dry, indicating that the moisture has been properly absorbed by the air and wood in the cellar.
  • Then rehumidify the humidifier and place it back in the cellar for another period of 24 hours.
  • Do not be alarmed if the hygrometer shows humidity between 80 and 85% initially; this is expected during the preparation phase.

Method 2 - The Wipe Method

  • As an alternative to active preparation, the wiping method offers a faster process although it involves certain risks. This method consists of directly moistening the interior walls of the cellar with a damp sponge. It is essential to use a new, just damp sponge to avoid saturating the wood, which could cause it to warp. Wet wipes, designed specifically for this task, represent a practical alternative, minimizing the risk of over-moistening.
  • After wiping the interior of the cellar, including the dividers and trays, close the cellar for 24 hours.
  • Then, prepare the humidifier and hygrometer as described above, and observe the hygrometry after another 24 hours. The humidity should stabilize around 70-73%, ideal condition for introducing your cigars.
  • Beware of Risks: The wiping method, although effective, requires special attention to avoid compromising the structural integrity of the cellar. Spanish cedar, often used in the manufacture of cigar humidors for its moisture absorption properties, is particularly vulnerable to deformation in the event of direct and excessive contact with water. A deformed humidor can lose its watertightness, threatening the preservation of cigars through a gradual leak of humidity.

4. Install a Humidification System : Place your humidification system, often supplied with the humidor, after correctly activating it according to the manufacturer's instructions. There are different systems, ranging from gel devices to those based on crystals or humidification solutions.
5. Adjust and Maintain Humidity : After closing the humidor with the humidification system activated, monitor the humidity for a few days until it stabilizes in the ideal range. It may be necessary to adjust the humidity level by adding or removing distilled water from the humidification system.
6. Place the Cigars in the Humidor : Once the humidity has stabilized, you can place your cigars inside. Make sure they are arranged to allow adequate air circulation around each cigar.

Tips for Maintaining Hygrometry

  • Regular Monitoring : Check the humidity regularly and adjust the humidification system if necessary.
  • Use of Distilled Water : Always use distilled water to avoid mineral buildup.
  • Avoid Drastic Changes : Place your humidor in a location protected from drastic changes in temperature and humidity, away from sunny windows and heaters.

By following these steps and tips, you will ensure optimal preservation of your cigars, allowing them to fully develop their aromas and character over time. Properly preparing your humidor is the first step toward an enriching and satisfying tasting experience.

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