How to keep cigars fresh without a humidor

Updated April 17, 2017

A humidor preserves the freshness of tobacco leaves by regulating the ambient humidity to maintain the cigar's form and proper taste. A dry cigar will burn too hot and cause an unpleasant smoking experience, while too much humidity can lead to mould or other problems. However, casual smokers who buy cigars only occasionally may not want to invest in a pricey humidor. Fortunately, you may already have everything you need to adequately store your cigars.

Find a household container that has a tight seal, although hermetic seals are not necessary. The container should have enough space to store the cigars and a sponge. If you plan to store your cigars long-term; keep a hygrometer in the container. The sponge must never come into direct contact with a cigar, or the tobacco will form mildew. Because it’s perfectly safe to store cigars laying flat or standing up, large coffee cans that have been thoroughly cleaned to remove the smell of coffee make useful cigar containers.

Buy a sponge specifically manufactured for humidors, since they are designed to prevent the cigars from becoming excessively moist. You can pick up humidor sponges at most tobacconist shops. They must be used with distilled water or a special propylene glycol solution. Alternative hydration systems, such as polymer crystals are slightly more costly, but significantly more convenient. A household sponge cut to a square about 3.75 cm (1 1/2 inches) on a side can be employed for short-term storage, but only if it is brand new. Never attempt to hydrate a cigar with a used sponge. If you use a household sponge, dampen it with purified (preferably distilled) water, and wring out as much excess water as possible.

Buy a hygrometer if you're storing cigars long-term to ensure they remain at a proper humidity of 68 to 74 per cent. Most tobacconist shops sell analogue hygrometers, although these require calibration. Digital hygrometers do not require calibration, so may be worth the extra money.

Check the humidity once a day initially to make sure that correct humidity is established and that the sponge remains moist. Gently squeeze the cigar wrapper to make sure it has not become brittle. When you are comfortable that your storage system is configured properly, you can gradually check it less often depending on the relative size of the sponge and the container. Open and inspect the storage system at least once every two weeks to give the cigars a regular supply of fresh air.


If your cigar came with a cellophane wrapper, keep the wrapper intact to help preserve the cigar's moisture.

A cigar which has dried out and become brittle may be saved if you store it at a higher level of humidity for several days.

While the recommended humidity level for cigars is 68 to 74 per cent, many smokers have specific preferences at the high or low end of that range as a matter of personal taste. Some smokers enjoy their cigars stored at up to 78 per cent humidity. Cigars can be stored safely as low as 65 per cent humidity for long-term storage.

Things You'll Need

  • Airtight container
  • Humidor sponge
  • Hygrometer
  • Distilled water
  • Propylene glycol solution
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About the Author

Tom Pace has been writing since 2000. His work has been featured by websites such as I-Mockery and his first book was published by Virtual Bookworm in 2005. Pace has been trained to coach students preparing for the GRE. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies at the University of Chicago.