Hygrometers are essential accessories for caring for your premium cigar collection. A hygrometer monitors the humidity conditions within your humidor and ensures your cigars are stored at the correct temperature.
Investing in a high-quality humidor is essential when starting your cigar collection, as they are perfect for cigar storage. However, the ideal storage conditions aren’t complete without a perfectly calibrated hygrometer when storing your cigars.
Remember, cigars are an art form. They have been carefully constructed and layered to provide a delightful smoking experience — but this can be ruined if you don’t store them correctly.
Let’s take a look at what these tools are and how you can guarantee successful hygrometer calibration.
What is a hygrometer?
If you’ve never heard of a hygrometer, you may wonder what it is and what it’s used for.
A hygrometer is an essential accessory for any cigar lover, as it is a special tool manufactured to measure the humidity and water vapour in the air. It does this by calculating air pressure and temperature changes.
Hygrometers report the humidity as a percentage of 100, with readings suggesting what your humidor is doing and whether it’s keeping your cigars at the perfect humidity (more on that later).
When storing cigars, it’s essential to determine the humidity inside your humidor. Cigars are very sensitive to the environment and must be cared for and kept at a specific humidity level to avoid drying out or containing too much moisture.
Storing your cigars at the proper relative humidity (RH) protects the oils of the tobacco and maintains the elements of a cigar, ensuring a delicious smoke.
Why is it important to calibrate a hygrometer?
The best storage place for a cigar is inside a humidor, which re-create the mild, humid climate of the Caribbean, where cigars are sourced from. Over time, the humidor will alter the flavor of the cigars. This is a good thing as cigar aging provides elevated bursts of flavor.
Calibrating a hygrometer is essential for ensuring it provides accurate readings. If you don’t take the time to ensure you follow steps for hygrometer calibration, you may find yourself with incorrect readings, which can lead to your cigars spoiling.
A spoiled cigar can lead to a variety of disappointing experiences, such as drying out. A cigar that is too dry will burn very hot and quickly when lit, creating an uneven burn. It will also ruin the flavour and aroma, leading to an unpleasant smoking experience.
If your cigar carries too much moisture, it will be incredibly hard to puff on, mould may begin to form, and the wrapper will swell and split open.
Both issues are something you want to avoid. Smoking a cigar should be an enjoyable experience and every cigar is carefully constructed to be a heavenly delight. Through hygrometer calibration, you are ensuring your cigar provides you with just that.
The differences between analog and digital hygrometers
Hygrometers are available in two different types. Both provide the same results but operate slightly differently and have a different face. The one you choose for your humidor can come down to personal preference.
Digital hygrometers carry the title of being the best as they appear to be the most accurate. They provide a reading for the temperature and the humidity. Digital models also take a watch battery, and some can track any fluctuations in temperature and humidity over a long period of time.
This style of hygrometer displays the humidity on a gauge and carry the appearance of a watch face. A lot of these hygrometers come with a humidor, but some cigar lovers just to prefer the aesthetics of a traditional needle-controlled hair spring dial.
You may wonder how to how to calibrate an analog hygrometer. This is fairly easy, as you can simply adjust the needle to read 75% on the gauge by turning the screw on the back of the hygrometer with a small screwdriver.
When calibrating your hygrometer, you can use the dampened paper towel method, which we’ll go into soon. There is also the salt test, which can be a great indicator to help determine the humidity of your humidor.
How to calibrate a hygrometer
To ensure your hygrometer is reading correctly, you can dampen some paper towels and wrap them around the hygrometer for 30 to 40 minutes. Just ensure the towels aren’t soaking wet to avoid damage.
Once you’ve reached the time, unwrap the hygrometer and examine the humidity level. If the hygrometer calibration is perfect, your will be reading 100% relative humidity (RH). If you see a value of 90%, we’d assume the reading is around 10% off. When you place the hygrometer into your humidor, and the reading shows 65, it will indicate the humidor is sitting at 75%. If this is adjustable, then change the calibration to show 75%.
What should my hygrometer read for cigars?
The ideal relative humidity (RH) for cigars is around 60-70%. This is the measurement of moisture in the atmosphere compared with that of complete saturation, regardless of the temperature.
When you store your cigars, please make sure the temperature is below 75 degrees Fahrenheit and that your humidor is stored in a darkened environment if possible.
Follow these simple steps to ensure your cigars are stored well, age well, and guarantee the ultimate smoking experience. Remember, you want a cigar that draws easily, burns steadily, and provides your palate with optimum flavor and delicious aroma.