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Tobacconist University
Accoutrements College

Accoutrements College: Cigar Preservation

 
HUMIDITY VARIATIONS

It is natural for any type of humidor to experience variations in humidity: no system is perfect. When a humidor begins to dry out, the cedar or dry air will begin to absorb moisture and oils away from the cigars, starting with the wrappers. If the cigar wrapper dries out, it can easily come off the binder, begin to unravel, and flake apart. Further drying will lead to the filler tobaccos being ruined as well. The loss of moisture halts the aging process and evaporates the essential oils that have been developed in a cigar. Controlling and minimizing variations in humidity is critical to proper cigar conditioning.

OVER HUMIDIFICATION & MOLD
Cigar Mold
Over humidification will inhibit aging, drown out the flavors of the tobacco, and impair the proper combustion rate. A "wet" cigar will taste sour or acrid, burn unevenly, and go out frequently. In addition, over humidification can lead to cigar mold growth. Cigar mold can be blue, grey, purple, or other colors, and can coat the wrapper as well as grow inside of the filler of the cigar. Cigar mold cannot be totally wiped off a cigar like plume/bloom - a haziness or stain will remain. Moldy cigars are ruined and not worthy of smoking.

HUMIDIFICATION

Over-humidified cigars may be brought back to optimal conditions very slowly. The process of lowering the humidity of the cigar must be done in one to two digit increments, with time (days or weeks) to rest and stabilize in between. Slow, incremental decreases in humidity are necessary to keep the wrapper, binder, and fillers in balance with each other. If any of the cigar’s components dehydrate too quickly, the construction of the cigar will be compromised.

UNDER HUMIDIFICATION

A dry cigar is a dead cigar. At what level of relative humidity does a cigar lose its characteristics and value? How dry is dead? The answer varies and many connoisseurs have differing opinions. The only irrefutable fact is that cigar aging requires a stable, humid environment for the proper organic decomposition to occur. During proper aging, a cigar will exude its essential oils. A dry cigar will neither produce or exude these oils. A dry cigar will lose its essential oils and the characteristics that made it an organoleptic delicacy. Depending on the level of dehydration, a dry cigar will probably never regain its original grandeur.

Cigar dehydration progresses from the outside in. First the wrapper will dry out and begin to release from the binder. At this stage, it is still possible to salvage the cigars with minimal damage to the filler tobaccos. Next, because they are less exposed to the dry ambient air, the binder and filler tobaccos will begin to dry. A very dry cigar will be dry to the core and lose all of its elasticity. This condition is usually hopeless and beyond resuscitation.

RE-HUMIDIFICATION

At some levels, it may be possible for an under-humidified cigar be brought back to near-optimal conditions very slowly. The process of raising the humidity of the cigar must be done in one to two digit increments, with time (days or weeks) to rest and stabilize in between. Slow, incremental increases in humidity are necessary to keep the wrapper, binder, and fillers in balance with each other. If any of the cigar’s components re-hydrate too quickly, the construction of the cigar will be compromised, and it could literally burst open.

PERFECT HUMIDIFICATION: PLUME

"Plume", also known as "bloom" is a naturally occuring by-product of long-term cigar aging. As the cigar's oils are exuded through the wrapper, they dry and crystalize on the outside. It appears as a white powder-like substance on the outside of the wrapper. Plume/bloom (pictured below) can be gently wiped off with no negative consequences to the cigar: it is significantly different than cigar mold.

Cigar Plume






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