How Do Humidors Work

Your humidor is a storage device for your precious cigars. Not only does your humidor store them but it also maintains a humidity level that the cigars thrive in so that they can maintain their flavor, aroma, and texture. Without a humidor, your cigar would have a short shelf life. But how do humidors work?

Humidors work by creating an enclosed environment that is easier to control than a house or a shoe box. When the humidor is closed it is somewhat unaffected by the outside world but it also needs some help to maintain that humidity. The parts that assist the humidor the most are the following:

  • Humidifiers
  • Hygrometers
  • Spanish Cedar

We cover all of those items and more below so read on!

Humidor Humidifier


The first thing that helps a humidor maintain humidity is the humidifier. There are simple humidifiers and there are some that are more complex. 

The humidifier adds moisture slowly to your humidor. This can be achieved by many different methods. 


Types of humidifiers for humidors


The types of humidifiers you can get for your humidor are the following:

Acryl Polymer (Crystals/Fleece)


This is the system that is commonly found in many humidors. They can be in the form of acrylic fleece or crystals. 

When water is added to them they absorb it and swell to sometimes twice their original size. The inside turns to a gelatinous material and then they release moisture evenly over a certain amount of weeks. 

The great thing about this system is that it reduces the risk of adding too much moisture. Too much moisture can cause your cigars to get moldy and unusable. 

These are self-monitored by yourself with the help of a hygrometer. This is discussed below. 

Electronic Humidifiers


Step into the new age with an electronic humidifier. These things do it all except smoke your cigar for you.  By picking up one of these they help you with the following:

  • Stores water to supply moisture to the humidor for a certain amount of time
  • Built-in Hygrometer monitors the humidity
  • Releases moisture if the humidity drops below a level that is set by you or already defined. Typically around 65 and 72 percent.
  • They can inform the owner that the humidifier needs to be refilled

Boveda Packs


This company creates little packets of purified water, natural salts, and food grade thickener. The water then is either absorbed or released into your humidor depending on the needs and the type of packet you buy. 

These packets do have a certain shelf life and you will have to buy more when they expire. But it is great if you don’t have a large collection of cigars. The expected life of one of these packets is 2 months to a year but it really depends on its surrounding environment. 

So if you live in a dry climate or it’s winter time you are going to need more packets. 

If you haven’t opened the package yet then the Boveda Packs have a two year shelf life. 

Silica Beads or Gel for Humidors


Everyone has come across silica beads in products they have purchased. The products can range from shoes to beef jerky. They are necessary for these products to keep your shoes dry and your beef jerky dry so it doesn’t spoil easily. Just be sure not to eat them!

Silica can be used to produce a two way humidity for your humidor but it can be difficult and time consuming. The silica typically needs to be recharged every two weeks and it is easy to get your measurements wrong which could be bad for your cigars. 

What is a Humidor Hygrometer

Hygrometer for Humidor
Typical Analog Hygrometer


A hygrometer works by reading the amount of water vapor or humidity level in your humidor. After reading it you can make the necessary adjustments to your humidifier so that your cigars can be in the best condition when you are ready for them. 

What Should The Hygrometer Read In A Humidor

A hygrometer should read 65% to 72%. If it is either below or above that then you need to respond by adding or removing humidity to keep your cigars healthy. 

The average room humidity is 40% to 60% so it is just under what is required for your cigars. 


How To Read A Humidor Hygrometer


Humidor with Digital Hygrometer

Many hygrometers in classic Spanish cedar boxes will have analog hygrometers that look similar to a clock. Reading these should be straightforward but will take a little more time than a digital hygrometer which is becoming more commonplace in modern humidors. 

But typically the hygrometer will start at 0 and can go all the way up to 100. Every tick may not have numerals but most will have tick marks in between the major numerals shown. You will just have to determine what difference each tick represents. Take your reading and then adjust your humidifier from there. Most of the time each little tick mark will equal a one percent or two percent difference. 

Remember if you have your humidor open for too long your hygrometer will adjust to the room’s humidity and provide most likely a lower reading. 


Where To Place Hygrometer In Humidor


It shouldn’t matter too much where your hygrometer is placed. The most important thing is to ensure your hygrometer isn’t suffocated under a ton of cigars as that would limit its airflow and cause a bad reading. 

Another thing to keep in mind is to place it where it can be read from outside of the humidor. This will allow for a proper reading to be made and then adjustments to the humidity level can be made from there. If you have to keep opening the door of the humidor then accurate readings cannot be made. 


Why Is Spanish Cedar Used In Humidors


Typical humidors are typically built with Spanish cedar in some part of their structure or form because it is great at absorbing and releasing water vapor or humidity, repels insects, and aids in preserving a cigar’s flavor and taste. 

Spanish cedar acts like a small humidifier that absorbs and releases moisture in your humidor. Spanish cedar was a great way to protect your cigars back in the day when you didn’t have all the gadgets you have today.  Now it is a throwback to history because it is not necessary to have it but it makes for a beautiful humidor.

Spanish cedar isn’t the only wood that has been used in humidors. American red cedar and Honduran mahogany are also used quite frequently.  But the Spanish cedar is the best because of the grain color that shines if you stain it or if you leave a clear finish. 


Where To Buy Spanish Cedar For Humidor


If you are looking to build your own humidor you can find Spanish cedar on Amazon or even at 

If you don’t have the best woodworking skills it is still relatively easy to create your own. You could even repurpose an old wooden box by simply adding some Spanish cedar and your own humidifier. 


How Much Do Humidors Cost


Humidors can vary in price by large amounts. Like most things, it depends on the quality of materials, workmanship, and size. Accessories and amenities can also increase the price. 

 At a minimum, you can expect to spend around $40 for a small 50 cigar box to $1,600 for a cigar vault. But the price can be even more. But typically people spend around $90 to $250 for their first humidor. 

You can check out our complete guide for electric humidors here to get the best information.

If these prices are too low for you check out these Elie Blue Alba humidors below. The Elie Bleu Alba humidors can start at $2500!! Definitely something to start saving for if you want to have a humidor that speaks volumes about your cigar collecting!

Elie Bleu Humidor

Elie Bleu Humidor