Seasoning a humidor means getting it ready for cigars by saturating the wood with moisture, so that it no longer is hygroscopic.
This article is written with a desktop humidor in mind. The same principles apply for other types and sizes of humidors, but the time involved in soaking and stabilizing will vary greatly. There is no way to accurately estimate how long your humidor will need, for that you need to monitor the humidity levels throughout the process. The desired humidity level is also a personal preference. This article serves as an overview of the seasoning process.
The reason your humidor needs to be seasoned is to get it ready for use, meaning receiving cigars. When seasoning; the wood inside gets saturated with moisture, so that it no longer is hygroscopic. Putting cigars in an unseasoned humidor would cause it to steal humidity from the cigars, which is not the intended mode of operation.
A humidor needs to be seasoned:
- Before first use.
- After a period of no or very limited use.
- If the humidity cannot be maintained at a satisfying level.
Therefore, you might only need to season it once, or multiple times. Depending on how well it is maintained and how you use it.
There are many ways to season a humidor, and how you do it boils down to personal preference. You will need:
- An accurate hygrometer; these can be calibrated using the salt test.
- Distilled or sterile water. In some countries, distilled water can be hard to get. In that case — sterile water, found at drugstores, can be used instead.
- A cloth or shallow dish.
If you have cigars in your humidor already, remove them before you start. Zip-lock bags or Tupperware boxes makes acceptable temporary storage. Put a Boveda pack or similar humidifier in the bag or box to be on the safe side. Place somewhere dark.
Some prefer to wipe down the interior with distilled or sterile water; make sure to use a new cloth and not too much water. The amount that needs to be applied may vary, but using too much could cause the wood to crack and may lead to too high humidity. In many cases the wood should only slightly change color.
Another method is to put a shallow dish with distilled or sterile water in the humidor and let it set, this may take longer than wiping it down but greatly reduces the risks of over-saturating the wood.
For large humidors, other techniques like “Moist-n-Aire” might be used. Remember to leave all trays, drawers, separators etc. made of wood in the humidor, so these get seasoned as well.
Make sure you have an accurate hygrometer, that can be trusted, inside. So you can monitor the progress. The humidor should stay closed during the soaking/saturation. For desktop humidors this might take a few days, but time needed will increase with the size of the humidor. Checking once a day is good practice.
If you wiped it down you may need to redo this one or more times depending on the humidity. Or, if you placed a dish inside, make sure it still has water. Redo this until you are satisfied with the humidity level. If so remove the dish, if present.
It’s now important that the humidor stabilizes before adding your cigars. For desktop humidors this might take a few days, but time needed will increase with the size of the humidor. Check the humidity regularly.
When the humidor is stable and it’s time to add your cigars, do so in batches. Adding them all at once might throw off the humidity levels again. Allow for the humidor to stabilize again before adding the next batch.