Can Cigars Go Bad? How to Store Your Cigars in Humidor

smoking a cigar by jay | Updated on January 26th, 2023

Unfortunately, many cigar enthusiasts do not know how to preserve cigars properly. As a result, smokers will go for a premium cigar only to be disappointed by its dryness and lack of flavor.

smoking a cigar

Cigars are similar to excellent wines. They are both high-quality items, but incorrect care and attention can degrade their quality.

In the case of wine, this entails keeping it in a designated cellar where light and temperature can be regulated. Controlling humidity and temperature is important for cigars.

Can cigars go bad?

While it is possible to keep a pack of cigarettes out for an extended period without effects, cigars are different. If they are not stored properly, the premium tobacco that goes into them might go bad. Mold and dryness are the most typical factors.

It is critical to understand how to keep cigars. Like a quality wine, you’re paying a premium for a premium product. Your experience, like wine, may be spoiled by incorrect storage.

How long do cigars last?

How long can cigars stay good, or how long do cigarettes last? As long as you store them well, cigars can last very long. If you store them well, they can last very long.

Well-maintained, premium, handcrafted aged cigars will stay fresh, or at the very least smokable, for years. Cigars can mature, much like wine. As a cigar matures, its flavor may increase, reach a peak, reduce, or even fade. Conversely, low or high humidity levels typically cause stale cigars.

In a humidor, properly preserved cigars will not expire. In reality, under the right conditions, cigars can last for decades. The complexity of a cigar’s flavor profile increases with age and is said to peak at about 10 years.

The ideal storage conditions for cigars are 70°F and 70% relative humidity. Unfortunately, it is difficult for most boxed humidors to maintain these specific conditions constantly.

What causes cigars to go bad?

Your cigar may expire or go bad for several reasons. If you want them to last longer, you should try your best to avoid these things.

Reasons that cigars might go bad

  • Because mold spores can grow in humid environments or from bad storage, it’s crucial to keep cigars in a cool, dry environment.
  • Cigars need extra care while being placed on shelves, so the wrapper isn’t touching anything other than cigar smoke since poor storage might cause them to pick up an undesirable taste from their surroundings.
  • When the cigar wrapper is opened, dirt and other contaminants get inside, spoiling the leaf.

Ways to identify a cigar that has gone bad

Mold inspection

Mold is one of the most common indicators that a cigar (or cigars) has gone bad. It happens when the atmosphere around the cigar is excessively damp, allowing the mold to develop. It is white in hue, with undertones of blue, and when removed, leaves a stain on the cigar.

This is a key feature since bloom (or plume) leaves no traces on your cigar when removed. Plume is generally only an indication of age in a cigar and is occasionally liked.

Plumes and mold are frequently confused with one another.

Examining the dryness

Can cigars dry out? While too much humidity might cause the cigar to absorb too much and grow mold or get droopy, too little humidity can cause the cigar to become too dry.

This extremely damages a cigar since it causes the wrapper and filler to lose all their oils. When these oils are gone, so is the cigar’s flavor. You may still smoke it, but it will burn considerably hotter and faster and taste nothing like it was supposed to.

Rubbing a cigar between your fingers is the quickest and easiest technique to determine if it is too dry. Dry cigars often disintegrate quickly and make a crunching noise.

Taste test the cigar

Tasting a cigar is another definite method to detect whether it has gone bad. Whether lit or not, such a cigar will taste inferior to other cigars in the humidor.

When not lighted, most cigars have earthy overtones, and you may get a sense of the flavor before you even fire it. Bad cigars, on the other hand, will leave you with a sand-like taste on your tongue.

Touch and feel the cigar

Feeling the cigar will tell you whether it is too wet, too dry, or just not in good shape. When you press your cigar in, it should be solid yet with a tiny flex and not create any noise.

If the cigar is too wet, it will feel soggy in your hands. If it’s too dry, it’ll crunch when you crush it and crackle when you ignite it.

Scent testing

Every cigar on the market has its distinct aroma. In a blind scent test, most cigar connoisseurs can identify their favorite cigars.

Similarly, any cigar smoker can tell if a cigar has gone bad, has a rotting fragrance, or even the distinct mold scent we are all familiar with.

These stale odors are a solid sign that you shouldn’t try your luck again and light the cigar since the experience will be similarly awful.

Another method for determining a cigar’s quality is simply smoking it. Cigars that have not been stored at the proper humidity will be dry and, as a result, will crackle when ignited. They will also burn considerably faster, drier, and hotter than newer and healthier cigars.

What exactly is a humidor?

A humidor is a storage container meant to maintain a relative humidity level, which is important for cigars since the tobacco leaves inside them naturally expand and contract according to the air’s relative humidity.

When a cigar becomes too dry, it shrivels up and loses its scent and flavor, both of which are important aspects of cigar smoking. A cigar exposed to exceptionally high humidity can cause mildew, decay, and possibly a tobacco bug infestation.

Humidors come in various forms and sizes, from as little as a box for use as a travel humidor to as large as a walk-in closet, commonly found in tobacco stores.

Regardless of size, each humidor will have a solid seal to keep the interior temperature stable and a thermostat and hygrometer to assist the owner in maintaining ideal conditions.

Relative Humidity, Hygrometer Calibration, and Humidor Preparation

Storing premium handmade cigars with the correct humidity levels is important to keep cigars in top condition. The cigar humidor allows the cigars to be stored at the proper humidity levels.

Certain routine maintenance procedures must be followed to keep the humidor at the proper humidity levels.

Preparing a New Humidor for Cigar Storage

When a new humidor is purchased, certain preparations must be made to store the cigars to maintain the proper humidity level effectively.

These preparations are important because the interior of the new humidor will absorb moisture if not properly cured before use. The humidor will absorb moisture from the cigars and leave them dry.

The following instructions are for the preparation of the humidor.

  1. Soak a new sponge with distilled water or humidifying solution and wet the inside of the humidor.
  2. Fill the humidity apparatus with the new humidor with distilled water or humidifying solution. Place the humidity apparatus in the humidor.
  3. Ring out the sponge so that it is still damp, and place the sponge inside the humidor on a plastic bag.
  4. Shut the lid on the humidor for 12 hours
  5. Remove the sponge and wait at least another 12 hours before storing cigars.
  6. Ensure that the proper humidity level is achieved before storing cigars.

Maintaining the Proper Cigar Humidor Humidity Level

It’s important to maintain a proper humidity level. The optimal humidity level is between 65% to 75% relative humidity at room temperature of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a general rule, the higher the temperature, the lower the relative humidity.

So 70 degrees at 70% relative humidity would be ideal. The cigars will dry and crumble or unwrap if the relative humidity is too low. The cigars can become moist and hard to draw if the relative humidity is too high.

Calibrating the Humidor’s Hygrometer

The Hygrometer is the gauge or meter used by most cigar humidors to measure relative humidity. Not all hygrometers are properly calibrated, so they must measure the proper humidity.

  1. Pour about half of a teaspoon of salt into a small container.
  2. Add a few drops of distilled water to the salt.
  3. Place the small container of salt and hygrometer inside an airtight container for about 8 hours.
  4. Remove the hygrometer and immediately look at the reading. The hygrometer should read 75% relative humidity if adjusted properly.
  5. If the hygrometer has a different reading than 75%, there should be an adjustment mechanism on the back of the hygrometer. Adjust the hygrometer quickly before it adjusts to its surroundings.

Cigarettes can last indefinitely if the proper procedures are followed and humidity levels are maintained. Premium cigars are like fine wines; they improve with age. If cigars are left to the elements and become dry, leave them in the cigar humidor for a few months to rejuvenate.

What if the humidity level is too low?

For the first few days after filling the humidor with cigars, check the hygrometer to ensure the humidifier does not need to be re-soaked.

Extremely dry or humid conditions with cold or hot temperatures may necessitate more frequent monitoring. A value of 68-70 percent relative humidity (RH) is ideal, although a little more or lower (64-72 percent depending on preference) is not harmful to your cigars.

When the humidity falls a few percentage points below the desired optimum RH, it is necessary to recharge the humidifier. If the necessary humidity level is still not met, consider adding more humidification devices (like humidifier gel jars, gel tubes, or additional humidifiers)

What if the humidity level is too high?

A humidor can get too saturated or have excessively high humidity. If this is the case, leave the humidor slightly open to enable some moisture to escape, or add more cigars to the humidor.

The cigars will aid in the absorption of some of the extra humidity. If this does not reduce the moisture level sufficiently, turn off the humidifier for a while.

More cigar storage tips

Can you combine cigars in a humidor?

It is quite permissible to mix various cigars in a humidor. Some cigar enthusiasts prefer to keep their stronger cigars from their softer brands. It’s a question of personal taste.

Cigars are similar to sponges. They pick up on the flavor and scent of whatever is nearby. When various cigars are stored together in a humidor, their flavor profiles naturally swap, especially if stored for an extended time.

Many cigar enthusiasts adore the effect. If your humidor has a tray or an internal divider, you may always use a barrier to separate various brands. Alternatively, you may arrange your cigars by wrapper varietal or country of origin.

Never keep flavored cigars in a humidor.

Never keep flavored cigars in your humidor unless you only smoke flavored cigars, such as Drew Estate’s Acid or Java brands. It is advisable to store flavored cigars separately from non-flavored kinds.

Flavored cigars’ flavors might overpower the environment they’re stored in since they’re infused with oils that aren’t inherent to the tobacco they’re created from.

Even storing a single flavored cigar in a humidor for a short time might influence all of your other cigars to taste the flavor.

As a result, your humidor and humidification unit will absorb the flavored flavor and pass it on to any cigars you store in the future. Put flavored cigars in a ziplock bag with a humidity pouch to keep them fresh.

Cellophane or not to use cellophane?

In general, it’s advisable to remove the cellophane – at least if you intend to mature your cigars for a long. Premium cigars’ inherent bouquet of taste and fragrance evolves with time. The removal of the cellophane promotes the flow of oils between cigars as well as the aging process.

You should remove the cellophane only if you want to travel with your cigars or transfer them. When transporting a couple of handmade to your buddy’s man cave, leaving the cellophane is advisable to safeguard the wrapper.

Cigars should be rotated.

Rotate your cigars every week or two, no matter how you stack them. Always having the same cigars next to your humidification source is not a good idea. On a semi-regular basis, rotate the cigars from the bottom to the top rows and vice versa.

How to keep dried-out cigars fresh.

It is simpler to resuscitate a cigar that has dried out than to rehabilitate one that has become overly wet. Slowly reintroduce moisture into the cigar by placing it in the humidor and gradually increasing the humidity.

If done correctly, this procedure should take around six months to avoid splitting the cigar. It should be noted, however, that even if moisture is restored, the flavor and burn may still be impaired.

Cigars that are swollen and moist should be discarded. Removing moisture from a damp cigar will cause the wrapper to peel, shrink, and break, reducing the smoking experience. You might be exposing yourself to mold as well.

How long can cigars be stored in a humidor?

Time is frequently said to as a cigar’s best friend. In general, cigars may be kept indefinitely as long as the humidity is between 65 and 70 percent and a consistent supply of fresh air is maintained.

After several years of storage, high-quality cigars, particularly Cuban cigars and some premium non-Cuban brands, develop a distinct flavor.

Premium cigars are often matured for six months before being supplied to tobacconists. Due to growing demand, the ripening time has gotten considerably shorter in recent years.

As a result, we recommend storing your cigars for an additional 3-6 months before smoking them.

Ultimately, it is up to the smoker to decide how long he wants to keep his cigars. It’s a good idea to buy a pack of 50 cigars and smoke them once a week to see how the flavor and smoothness vary.

Stay away from the refrigerator!

While some cigar smokers would advise you to keep your cigarettes in the fridge, this is not recommended! The chilly, dry air in the refrigerator can quickly dry out your cigars, which is the reverse of what you want.

Cigars absorb the flavor of the items around them (and transmit their flavor to others), so keeping them with last night’s marinara or tomorrow’s vanilla yogurt is not a smart idea.

If you put them in the freezer, they will dry up much faster than if you placed them in the fridge.


Although cigars never go bad or become unusable, incorrect storage might cause this. The likelihood is that they can stay fresh for several years if preserved properly. We recommend considering purchasing a humidor to maintain consistent conditions for your cigars.

smoking a cigar


Self proclaimed cigar expert. I've been smoking since 2010. I've practically lived at a cigar lounge from 10am to 10pm and trying every new cigar that came out for years.

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