All cigars need to be appropriately cared for, regardless of their price or quality. They will lose their quality and freshness if you don’t store them correctly.
Whether you prefer buying your cigars individually, in boxes, or have been gifted some at a special event, it’s inevitable you won’t always smoke them all at once. This is why you need to maintain their freshness.
Cheap cigars deserve to be kept at their best, just as much as premium varieties. Learning how to look after cheap cigars will make the smoking experience more enjoyable, enable you to build your collection, and save you money from replacing them when they go stale.
Before we offer some stogie storage tips, let’s consider the ideal conditions for your treasured smokes.
Ideal conditions for cigars
Cigars don’t respond well to fluctuations in humidity or temperature. They typically smoke best in the country they were made, so it’s essential to maintain them in conditions similar to those in which their tobacco was grown, fermented, and rolled into your favorite blends.
A cigar’s optimum conditions are 70% humidity and a temperature of 21°C. However, as the seasons change, maintaining a consistent temperature can be a struggle. If this is the case, aim for a humidity level between 65 and 72%, and a temperature range between 18°C and 23°C.
Too much humidity and your cigars become damp. This causes the tobacco leaves to swell, making it almost impossible to draw smoke through. It can even develop mold.
While excess moisture causes your stogie to become unsmokable, low moisture levels will wreak havoc on its flavor. Most of flavor will be lost if the cigar dries out completely, as all essential oils will evaporate.
When you smoke a cigar, enjoying all their subtleties and tasting notes is important. Dry cigars burn fast and hot, meaning you won’t get a slow burn that allows the oils and sugars in the tobacco to meld together.
Note your stogie’s condition when you purchase it — this is the ideal shape and condition you should aim to maintain. To achieve this, you need to keep your cheap cigars fresh, and this doesn’t need to be an expensive process either.
How to store cheap cigars without a humidor
Humidors are considered the best way to store cigars, but these humidity-controlled storage devices aren’t always a priority (or affordable) for someone just getting into cigars. Thankfully, we can show you how to keep cigars fresh without a humidor.
How to store cigars in a ziploc Bag
Zipper storage bags are a staple in kitchen drawers across the US for storing various types of food. But did you know they can also be used to house a stogie or three? A Ziploc bag and an unused sponge are all you need.
Place your sticks inside the bag. Next, wet the new sponge with water (ideally distilled) and wring out any excess liquid. Place the sponge in the bag and zip it up tightly.
While this simple method doesn’t have the reliability or exact science for perfectly balanced humidity levels that the hydrometer for a humidor provides, it will stop your stogies from drying out. Check the sponge occasionally to ensure it hasn’t dried out.
Your cigars will be safe using this method for a few weeks but don’t count on it for reliable long-term storage.
How to store cigars in a tupperware box
An iconic item of kitchenalia, Tupperware boxes (or jars) can make for an effective and sturdy improvised humidor. They are practical if you want to store more than a couple of cigars.
The lid needs to be airtight so the moisture doesn’t dissolve. If you wish, you can still use a moist sponge to keep the humidity up, using distilled water to help prevent mold. This also ensures no chemicals found in standard tap water come into contact with the cigars and affect the flavor.
Remember to clean the Tupperware thoroughly before packing your cigars neatly (but loosely) inside so they stay put and have room to breathe. Regularly rotate your sticks and air the Tupperware. Keep your makeshift humidor at room temperature, and you can be safe knowing your cigars are in a safe place.
Storing cigars in a Cooler
A cost-effective option if you expect your stogies to be around for more than a few months, try using a cooler as a humidor alternative. The size of your cooler will dictate how many cigars you can put away, but the golden rule is not to overfill or underfill it, no matter the size.
This classic picnic accessory will keep the relative humidity where it needs to be for an extended period. While you can once again place a wet sponge in with your cigars and check the sponge periodically, you could go hi-tech and create a humidification system that requires little babysitting. All you need is a gallon of distilled water, a hydrometer, and a humidification device — all of which can be picked up reasonably cheaply.
Tips for storing cheap cigars in a humidor
While the above options are innovative ways to keep your cheap cigars fresh, humidors are still the best way to create accurate storage conditions.
Humidors are special storage boxes designed to reproduce the conditions under which cigars are manufactured. Most modern humidors feature a humidifier to provide additional moisture and a hygrometer to let you monitor the conditions under which your stogies are stored.
Woods such as maple, mahogany, and oak are typically used in their construction. However, Spanish Cedar is the most popular material because it keeps humidity in and absorbs excess moisture. It’s also uniquely aromatic, which complements and enhances the taste of your stogies.
Regular monthly maintenance will keep the cigars in your humidor fresh for several years. If you are thinking of or have just invested in a humidor for the first time, check out these five top tips to extend the longevity of your smokes inside your humidor.
- Before using your humidor, it’s imperative you properly season it. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions, but this process typically requires a clean unscented sponge or cloth, some distilled water, and around 3 to 5 days patience.
- Switch the position of your cigars inside the humidor every six months so the humidity is evenly distributed.
- If you are sampling cigars from different brands and want the flavors to mingle, remove cellophane wrappers from your stogies before storing them inside your humidor.
- Check your humidifier and hygrometer at least once a week, and inspect the sticks for any signs of cracking, chipping, and mold. Squeeze the bottom of each cigar to ensure they are still springy.
- Newcomers to the cigar world are unlikely to have a sizeable haul. Get an appropriately sized container that matches your collection. Remember you don’t want to over or under-stuff your humidor.
Buying a humidor should be a priority if you plan to smoke cigars long-term. When a cigar is manufactured, it comes out of the factory with a 12-15% moisture content, and it needs to be at the same level when you come to smoke it to enjoy a delicious stogie at optimum freshness.
Take care when storing cheap cigars, and you will reap the benefits.