Cigars are like any other plant product and deteriorate over time if not cared for. That's where a humidor comes in. To store your cigars for use over time, a humidor is essential.
As a product of the Caribbean, cigars do best in a tropical climate similar to the conditions under which they were created. The consensus is that storage is best achieved at a temperature of 70 degrees (F) and at 70 percent relative humidity.
The risks of having conditions which vary wildly from this norm can be substantial. At extremely cold temperatures or with too little humidity, cigars will dry out and be unsmokable (a.k.a. DEAD). At high temperatures - above 80 degrees F - or at high humidity levels, the dreaded tobacco beetle can hatch and begin boring its way through the cigar. The microscopic larvae are embedded in the leaf and high temps or humidity allow them to hatch and destroy any cigar they are in. Whole boxes of cigars have been turned to dust by these vermin. The only defense is to ensure that your cigars are kept at correct temperatures and at humidity levels of less than 80 percent.
(If you get beetle infestations, you'll see the holes and every cigar which has these problems must be discarded. Check all other cigars in the same box or pack carefully and make sure they are stored in a new or different container before returning them to your humidor. This is why many enthusiasts keep their cigars in their cellophane wrappers to protect against the spread of beetles, even though this slows the aging process.)
So what kind of humidor works best?
Any container which has a good seal and can incorporate a sponge or other humidification device can be used, even Tupperware. During the Cigar Boom of the mid-1990s, there was even a plastic box marketed as the "TupperDor"! But beyond that, you're buying a piece of furniture.
All humidors should close tightly and if lined with wood, must use Spanish Cedar. Other woods such as plywood or American Cedar can have strong smells which can interfere with the taste of your cigars. Take your pick of exterior decorations to match your home or office decor. One suggestion: keep your humidor away from direct sunlight to keep temperatures down.
Not all humidors come with humidifiers, so you need to check before buying. If you need to buy a humidifier separately, there are plenty to choose from, but check to see which require a special propylene glycol solution and which use simple distilled water. Subscribers can check the CigarWire for our recommendations on humidors.
Just going out for a few hours and need to take your cigars along? Opt for a quality cigar case, made from odorless leather in endless styles and price points. You can choose from ultra-protective hard cases with individual slots or softer cases which have open interiors to allow you to carry different sizes as desired. Don't worry too much about humidification when carrying your cigars for a few hours on the road, unless you're going to the desert.