Humidor 101: How Does a Cigar Humidor Work?

How Does a Humidor Work?

Name one cigar enthusiast who doesn’t care about the condition of their cigars. You probably can’t. That’s because cigar lovers are universally passionate about the flavor and feel of their cigars, which is why humidors are such an essential part of their experience.

So what does a cigar humidor do? It’s far more than just a pretty box to keep your cigars in. A cigar humidor preserves and even enhances the condition and flavor of cigars. 

Let’s have a look at how they work. is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

What Does a Cigar Humidor Do?

Moisture levels affect the flavor of cigars and how it feels to draw on a cigar. If there’s too much or too little, it will completely change the way your collection tastes and the quality of the cigars you own. 

As a whole, the humidor stores cigars, and features a few components that help create an ideal environment for your cigars to be kept in. In this ideal environment the temperature and relative humidity of the box will be controlled, ensuring the perfect amount of moisture inside to keep your cigars fresh without getting them too wet or too dry.

That’s where cigar humidors come in handy; they regulate the moisture levels within the box. This is a delicate process achieved by:

  •     Choosing the right materials for the lining
  •     Using a built-in humidifier to add or remove moisture where necessary
  •     Deploying a hygrometer to ensure the humidifier is working correctly


Read Next: 8 Best Cigar Humidors 2021

What Happens if You Don’t Use a Cigar Humidor? 

If you keep cigars out in the open or in a container that’s non-protective from temperatures, you may ruin your collection. That means that the cigars you’ve been waiting to smoke for the perfect occasion can be completely tasteless or even soggy by the time you sit down to smoke.  

Generally, cigars will lose moisture within 2 to 3 days if not enclosed in a humidor. In a humidor, the relative humidity is around 68-72%.

Here’s what you can expect to happen if you don’t protect your cigars with a humidor. 

Dehydrated Cigars

If a cigar is stored in an overly dry environment, you can guess what happens: the cigar dries out. This could be an apartment that isn’t well-ventilated and instead mostly uses air conditioning, an arid environment, or an extremely cold environment.

When a cigar dries out, the flavor profile just… stops existing. Your cigar hurts your mouth. It tastes very ashy, and you’re going to regret not keeping your collection in a moist environment. 

Saturated Cigars

When a cigar is exposed to too much moisture in the air, it becomes soft, and the flavor turns bitter. It becomes progressively more bitter as you go. This is because when cigar tobacco becomes increasingly moist, more nicotine is extracted. Nicotine tastes bitter, and so now so does your cigar.

Bitterness and disappointment are the last things you want to experience when settling in with a cigar. You’ll be asking yourself, “If only I had used a cigar humidor, would this have happened?”

And the answer is no. Cigar humidors help you avoid these scenarios by maintaining a constant balance of moisture that is perfect for maintaining the flavor and feel of quality cigars. 

How Does a Humidor Work? The Three Key Features

A humidor is much more complex than the average protective case, dresser, or box. It’s made of several components working in tandem to preserve the humidity within. 

One of the primary functions of a humidor is to maintain a steady, desirable moisture level inside, and secondly to protect its contents from physical damage and degradation from sunlight. 

Let’s break down each component so you get an idea of how intricate these devices really are.

Spanish Cedar Lining

Spanish cedar — now there’s a phrase that conjures up images of a gentler world. This marvelous wood is chosen for the lining of humidors because of its ability to moderate moisture.

Before you store your cigars in the humidor, make sure that you lightly moisten the Spanish cedar lining. This creates a kind of ‘baseline’ of moisture in the wood, preventing it from drawing moisture from the air and dehydrating your cigars.

Spanish cedar is remarkable because it doesn’t just absorb excess moisture but releases it back into the environment when conditions in the box are at risk of becoming dry. It works in conjunction with our next guest: the humidifier.


Humidifiers maintain the humidity within the humidor. This instrument releases moisture into the box when it detects that conditions are becoming dry. Any excess moisture released by the humidifier is then absorbed by the Spanish cedar.

You can choose from several models of humidifiers. Some prefer foam-based blocks. Others use a gel-based solution. Whichever you choose, remember that humidifiers require recharging and will eventually need to be replaced.

The Spanish cedar acts as a buffer for this, releasing moisture when the humidifier slows down. Still, you should carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions on your humidifier and recharge or replace it when needed.


A hygrometer is an instrument that monitors moisture levels within an environment. This is what will tell you when your humidifier is running low. It will also indicate if there’s too much humidity in your box.

The rule is 70/70 — the optimal temperature is at 70F, and the optimal humidity is 70%. Check your hygrometer at least once a week to ensure that things are in order. 

It’s not a bad idea to recalibrate the hygrometer frequently to ensure you’re readings are accurate.

Do I Need a Humidor?

As a cigar enthusiast, the short answer is yes. A humidor will allow you to enjoy the rich, complex taste of your cigars whenever you like. Some cigars have even been reported to improve in flavor after ‘aging’ in the humidor. Now that you’re no 17 anymore and don’t have to hide your collection from your parents, you can afford to preserve your prized cigars in a beautiful and efficient humidor. 

You’ll probably develop a fondness for your humidor and consider opening it an essential part of the experience. Many people even collect several humidors. These gorgeous boxes are often made of the finest materials — the manufacturers know that cigar enthusiasts tend to enjoy the finer things in life. For this reason, it also makes a wonderful gift for your cigar-loving friend or relative.

Our 3 Best Cigar Humidors 

Case Elegance Handcrafted Cedar Humidor 

View On Amazon

Audew JC-23C1 Electronic Cigar Cooler Humidor

View On Amazon

Mantello Royal Glass Cigar Humidor


View On Amazon

Our Review

“WOW! What a wonderful piece of art! The lid is easy to use and the accessory drawer keeps your lighter, cutter, and small carry case all in one compact unit.”

Our Review

 “It is one of my favorite humidors. I have the same one, and love the look and feel. I highly recommend it as a starter humidor, I love mine too!”

Our Review

“This humidor is excellent and surpasses my expectations.”

Continue Reading: The 15 Best Cigar Humidors



What does a fine cigar humidor do that no other device can? It gives you an experience like no other and protects your cigars from too much or too little moisture.

But that’s not all a humidor does. It gives you a beautiful and safe place to store your cigars for a rainy day. The next time you’re ready for your favorite Cuban, you’ll know the taste will be just right.


Rate this post

Leave a Comment