My cigars are fine (in spite of what my hygrometer says)

by Gary Korb

Some of the most often-asked questions I get aren't about cigars, but about hygrometers. It appears, at least from the perspective of my readers, that hygrometers are the most untrustworthy of all cigar accessories. It's usually something like, "I calibrated my hygrometer and it's still reading 55%." You can see how this would make a cigar smoker very nervous about the future condition of his cigars.

Then there are the questions specifically about digital hygrometers. Most cigar smokers expect these devices to be as accurate as an old-fashioned rectal thermometer, or even more so. After all, they're DIGITAL. They should be spot-on, right? I'd love to agree, but unfortunately such is not the case. Just about all cigar hygrometers are made in China, so would you really expect such cheaply mass-produced items to be identical? If so, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn, too.

Avid cigar smokers generally know where the humidity and temperature are supposed to be. Plus, many of them are perfectionists, so you can imagine the frustration when their cigars feel fresh and the hygrometer is telling them their cigars should be closer to tumbleweed - and vice versa.

This brings me to my point. Believe it or not, YOU are your cigars' best hygrometer. Experienced cigar smokers don't need a hygrometer to tell whether their cigars are fresh. Simply taking a few out from various rows and gently pinching the foot, middle and head will tell you straight away how fresh the cigars are.

I have two analog hygrometers and three digitals. I know that one of the analogs is right-on because I've tested it with a Boveda One-Step Calibration pack several times, and it always finished at the 75% mark. Plus, when I check the cigars in that humidor they always feel good. That's my "acid test." I also recently made a storage box humidor and I found an old digital hygrometer I wasn't using. After putting in a new battery I ran it through the calibration test and it wouldn't go higher than 63%. Just to be sure, I ran the test again but with another digital hygrometer for control. Again, the old unit read 63% while the "control" read 71%. So, did I trash the old hygrometer and buy a new one? Nope, I kept it because all the cigars feel fine. Even though the RH averages about 61%, I know it's really more like 73%. In spite of the wacky reading, I know I can trust that hygrometer, but I trust myself even more.

Sure, there are plenty of hygrometers that read accurately, but don't let the readings from your hygrometer(s) ruin your day. It's not worth it. If you've been keeping tabs on your cigars, rotating them regularly, etc., I'd be willing to bet they're just fine - and so should you.  (_[GK]__{{{~