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Tobacconist University
Accoutrements College

Accoutrements College: Cigar Humidifiers

 
HUMIDIFICATION: ACTIVE & PASSIVE

A humidifier is the apparatus which produces humidity inside of the humidor.

The most important facet of humidifier operation is to always use distilled water. Anything less will clog your humidifier over time and pose a bacterial hazard to your cigars.

The two general categories of humidifiers are active and passive. Active humidifiers generally have a fan blowing on [or over] water to produce a mist that is absorbed into the air. Active humidifiers are common in walk-in humidors and large cabinets.

Passive humidifiers are intended for smaller humidification needs and have no electrical parts. They work on simple evaporative and chemical equilibrium principles.

The following is an analysis and description of the different types of passive humidifiers available today...

TWO-WAY & REVERSE OSMOSIS (RO)

Two-way humidifiers will emit and absorb humidity while seeking equilibrium at a specific humidity level, such as 70%. The first two-way humidifiers were often referred to as reverse osmosis (RO). 'Osmosis' means the diffusion of water through a membrane (evaporation), and 'reverse' refers to the inhibition of that process.

RO humidifiers units were popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. The first generation used a generic green foam as the hygroscopic medium: these RO units used an organic chemical called propylene glycol (PG) mixed in a 50/50 ratio with water to achieve 70% rh. Today, most two-way humidifiers still use PG to inhibit over humidification, yet they can use different hygroscopic mediums, such as crystals or plastics, instead of green foam.

RO humidifiers which use PG require a near perfect 50% balance with water to ensure proper humidity - too much PG can clog a hygroscopic medium like foam which will result in the humidifier not accepting water. Too little PG can lead to over humidification. Often, the key to successfully using an RO humidifier is to only add PG if your humidor is too humid. Another solution is consistently refilling the RO humidifier with 90% water and 10% PG (90/10). This ratio will allow the PG to break down (into inert sugars and water) instead of accumulating and potentially clogging the humidifier's hygroscopic medium.

Other two-way humidifiers can use salt-based solutions which release and absorb water until the ambient humidity reaches a specific level. An example of this principle is table salt, which will stop emitting moisture when the ambient air is 75% rh. (See Hygrometer Calibration).

Cigar Humidifier: Two-Way & Reverse OsmosisCigar Humidifier: Two-Way & Reverse Osmosis


EVAPORATION


Evaporation humidifiers work on the principle that water will evaporate, or simply be absorbed by the dry, ambient air. The size of the humidifier must be perfectly matched to the size of your humidor to achieve the proper balance. It is important to pick a brand that has a bacteria and mold resistant medium for holding water.
Cigar Humidifier: Evaporation

EVAPORATION: ADJUSTABLE


Just like its name implies, this humidifier allows the user to manually adjust the flow of humidity. One benefit of evaporation-adjustable humidifiers is that the size of the humidifier does not need to be professionally synchronized with the size of the humidor. The user can simply make small adjustments to the humidifier to increase or decrease the flow of moisture. Another benefit is that a larger humidifier can be placed in a small humidor and adjusted to emit less moisture. This will greatly lengthen the time between refills and give you greater peace of mind.
Cigar Humidifier: Evaporation - Adjustable

DISPOSABLE

A disposable humidifier is not meant to be watered or charged with PG. Their useful life is over after they stop humidifying - which can last up to six months. Over the last decade, many cigar manufacturers have started adding disposable humidifiers to their cigar boxes.
Cigar Humidifier: Disposable






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