Cigar Box vs. Humidor: Preserving Your Puffs in Style

smoking a cigar by jay | Posted on May 4th, 2024

For any cigar aficionado, proper storage is key. But when it comes to housing your collection, you might be wondering: is a humidor truly necessary, or can you get by with a simple cigar box? Let’s explore the key differences to help you decide which option best suits your needs.

cigar box

The Humble Cigar Box: Rustic Charm, Limited Functionality

Cigar boxes are undeniably cool. They come steeped in history and exude a certain rugged appeal. They’re often made from cedar wood, which some believe imparts a pleasant aroma to the cigars stored within. However, their primary function is transportation, not long-term storage. Here’s why they might not be ideal for your cigars:

  • Lack of Humidity Control: A standard cigar box won’t have a tight seal or a built-in humidifier. This means inconsistent humidity levels, which can dry out your cigars or make them overly soggy. Fluctuating humidity levels can also lead to cracking in the wrapper, making the cigar not only unpleasant to look at but also difficult to smoke properly.
  • No Insulation: Fluctuations in temperature can also wreak havoc on your cigars. Rapid changes in temperature can cause the cigars to expand and contract, damaging the delicate wrapper and filler leaves. A basic box offers no protection from external temperature changes.
  • Limited Capacity: Cigar boxes are typically small, suitable for only a few cigars. If you have a growing collection, a box quickly becomes impractical. This can be frustrating for cigar enthusiasts who enjoy having a variety of cigars on hand to suit their mood and preference.

The Humidor: A Haven for Your Cigars

A humidor is a specialized container designed to create the perfect environment for your cigars. Here’s what sets it apart:

  • Precision Control: A humidor features a tight seal and a humidification system, allowing you to maintain a consistent 70% relative humidity (RH) – the sweet spot for cigar preservation. Most also include a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels.
  • Spanish Cedar Lining: This wood not only helps regulate humidity but also imparts a pleasant aroma to your cigars.
  • Temperature Stability: Many humidors are insulated to minimize temperature swings, further optimizing cigar storage.
  • Capacity for Every Collection: Humidors come in a wide range of sizes, from desktop models for a few cigars to large cabinets for the serious collector.

So, Which One Should You Choose?

FeatureCigar BoxHumidor
Humidity ControlNone or minimal. Susceptible to fluctuationsProvides stable 70% RH, ideal for cigar preservation
Temperature StabilityOffers little protection against fluctuationsInsulation in some models helps minimize temperature swings
MaterialOften cedar, but may not be Spanish CedarLined with Spanish cedar for aroma and regulation
CapacityLimited, suitable for just a few cigarsRange of sizes from desktop to large cabinets
AestheticsCan have a vintage charmOften elegant, adds a touch of sophistication
CostGenerally inexpensive or freeVaries, from budget-friendly to premium investments

The decision between a cigar box and a humidor boils down to a few key factors. Let’s analyze them to help you make the most informed choice:

Your Smoking Frequency

Are you an occasional smoker or a dedicated cigar enthusiast? If you light up only a few times a year, and have just a handful of cigars, a cigar box might be enough for short-term storage. However, if you regularly enjoy cigars and like to experiment with different blends, a humidor becomes a necessity to properly age and preserve your collection.

Importance of Optimal Preservation

Do you prioritize pristine cigar condition? Keep in mind, in a cigar box, your cigars are at the mercy of your environment. A humidor, on the other hand, is your own personal cigar sanctuary. Consistent humidity, controlled temperature, and that touch of cedar aroma all work together to enhance and protect the flavors of your cigars, ensuring they’re at their best when you’re ready to savor them.

Your Budget

Humidors come at various price points. While a quality humidor is an investment, there are budget-friendly options for smaller collections. Cigar boxes, generally, are low-cost or free. If cost is a major factor, starting with a cigar box and budget-friendly alternatives like Tupperware with humidity packs, could be your entry point. But, remember, this might mean slightly compromising on the quality of your smoking experience.

Your Collection Size and Future Plans

How many cigars do you usually have on hand? Do you see your collection growing? A cigar box can quickly become limiting if you start acquiring more cigars. A humidor offers varying capacities to accommodate your collection and allow for expansion in the future.

Aesthetics and Presentation

Let’s be honest – there’s an undeniable elegance to a well-crafted humidor. If you enjoy displaying your collection and want your cigar experience to have a touch of refinement, a humidor adds a beautiful element to your space.

Picture this:

You come home after a long day, eager for a moment of relaxation. If the idea of opening a humidor, with its steady and inviting conditions, to choose the perfect cigar appeals to you, then a humidor is a worthwhile investment.

On the other hand, if you’re truly a casual smoker without concerns about long-term aging and nuanced flavors, a cigar box might serve your needs for the moment.

Ultimately, the best choice is the one that aligns with your individual smoking habits and your appreciation for the fine art of enjoying cigars.

Beyond the Box: Smart Cigar Storage Alternatives

While a humidor offers the ultimate cigar care, there are a few viable alternatives if you’re looking for something different or cost-effective:

  • The DIY Humidor: With some ingenuity, you can craft a functional humidor using an airtight container (like Tupperware or an ammo can). Seasoning with distilled water and a humidification system (like a Boveda pack or a simple sponge and propylene glycol solution) will create a more stable environment for your cigars. This is a great way to test your commitment before investing in a traditional humidor.
  • Travel Humidors: These robust containers are specifically designed for portability. They maintain humidity control within a compact size, ideal for taking a few of your favorite cigars on the go, without needing a full-sized humidor.
  • Coolidors: A larger-scale DIY option, a cooler (often with Spanish cedar lining added) combined with humidification devices can provide ample storage space. This is particularly useful for those who purchase cigars in bulk or have expansive collections.

Important Considerations:

  • Monitoring is Key: Regardless of your alternative, a hygrometer is essential to monitor humidity levels and make adjustments as needed.
  • Capacity: Ensure your chosen alternative comfortably accommodates your current collection with a bit of room for growth.
  • Long-Term vs. Short-Term: Alternatives can be suitable for short-term storage or travel. However, if you’re serious about preserving and aging your cigars, upgrading to a humidor is likely inevitable for optimal results.

The Choice is Yours!

Cigar storage offers a spectrum of options. If you’re just starting out, alternatives let you experiment before making a bigger commitment. For seasoned connoisseurs, a humidor remains the gold standard for ensuring the longevity and enjoyment of your prized 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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