The art of smoking lies in many nuances, which professionals and true connoisseurs of good tobacco are always aware of. One of these nuances is, of course, proper storage of tobacco products, because it is the environmental conditions that can often affect the taste and smell. That said, buying a specialized place, otherwise known as a humidor, does not always save the day, because the lack of humidity can cause tobacco to dry out or vice versa – to get moldy from too high a percentage of humidity.
Too much moisture can lead to mold, and Virginia varieties, for example, are intentionally left to dry out to avoid this problem. So it is very important to keep an eye on the humidity level in the place where the tobacco is lying by choosing a best cigar hygrometer.
Why do I need a hygrometer for the humidor?
The peculiarity of storing cigars in the humidor is to create and maintain a special humidity that keeps the tobacco from spoiling, on the contrary, showing its best qualities. That is why a quality humidifier and hygrometer are essential components of every humidor. Without these devices the humidor becomes a simple wooden box, no different from the usual box.
Often a hygrometer is included with the humidor, just to keep track of the right humidity for tobacco. Surprisingly, hygrometers were invented in the XV century, and they are still relevant today. In the beginning, the mechanism of the device was very simple: on one side of the scale there was wool and on the other side there were stones. As the humidity rose, the wool got wet and outweighed the stones; as the opposite happened, the wool got dry when the humidity percentage decreased. In the XVII century, a Venetian doctor used as a meter of humidity ordinary threads, which when stretched produce different sounds, due to which it was called a string. Nowadays there are also quite a few types of hygrometers with different principles of operation. It is clear that some have less accuracy, others – more, and the price may be different. Now there is quite a large selection of hygrometers on the market, so there is no problem to buy it separately from the humidor. But before you buy the device you need to understand its characteristics and principle of work.
Hygrometers for humidors are either mechanical or digital. The aristocratism and premium of the humidor is demonstrated with an analog model, but a digital version will be much more practical. You can use it to know the humidity to within a hundredth of a percent, as well as to determine the temperature inside the box. If you are not satisfied with both options, try to combine them and install both types of hygrometers at the same time.
Digital hygrometer for the humidor
Many modern humidors are equipped with digital humidity sensors. The main advantage is easy to read and easy to install. It can be placed anywhere in the humidor. In the case of a low humidity level it beeps. Often such devices are also equipped with a thermometer.
In addition, digital hygrometers do not require frequent calibration, but have the possibility to do so if necessary (e.g. after a shock during transport or after a fall from the table).
As for measurement accuracy, digital does not guarantee that they will be more accurate than analog hygrometers. Here it all depends on the workmanship of both devices.
Analog humidor hygrometer
These hygrometers come in 3 types: metal spring based, natural or synthetic hair.
- Metal spring based are the most popular because of their low cost. But they are the less accurate.
- Natural hair based – have greater accuracy, but are too demanding in care and adjustment.
- And finally, the third type – using synthetic hair. It is equipped with the latest humidors. They will cost a little bit more. But such hygrometers cope with their task perfectly. They retain the accuracy of natural hair, but do not require complex maintenance.
Analogue hygrometers require calibration before the first use of the humidor and then once every year of use. This can be done in two easy ways:
Calibrating with brine
A little water is added to a mug or a bowl with salt. This should completely cover the salt, but not dissolve it. Such salt solution together with the hygrometer is placed in a plastic container, closed tightly and left for 8 hours. After this time the hygrometer is taken out. Its pointer can be set to 75% and used in the humidor.
Calibration with a damp cloth
This method is less accurate but quite simple. Wrap the hygrometer in a wet cloth for 1 hour. Then set its reading to 96%.
How can I tell the quality of a humidor hygrometer by its design?
The quality of the humidor can easily be determined by the weight and thickness of the walls. This not only ensures stability and reliability, but it also means that more material was used and so the absorption will be much faster. In addition, natural wood is denser and heavier than MDF or classic plywood. The presence of natural veneer in the finish of the outer part, as well as multi-layer varnish, will greatly increase the overall weight of this product.
A good humidor must have a special wooden border to make evaporation more uniform. This is the only way to achieve the desired result – an airtight closure will not make it more efficient.
The exterior finish is an important part of the humidor’s aesthetic. It can be made of natural veneer or paper, with a print of the popular Cohiba colors. In terms of functionality, it is not decisive. It is up to the owner of the humidor to decide what is acceptable for him. It depends on his personal preferences and financial well-being.
Of course, each hygrometer has its advantages and disadvantages, so the final decision which device to choose is always up to the consumer. It is important to remember: if you choose a hygrometer that requires calibration, you should calibrate it just before you use it, especially after heavy transportation. Also you should not forget that each kind of tobacco suits a certain percentage of humidity, which is important to take into account when storing and choosing tobacco products.