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Storing Cigars

Cigars, like any natural product, need to be carefully kept. They should be protected from extremes of temperature and kept in a humidified environment, ideally at 60-70 degrees F with 65-70 percent humidity. This may be difficult to achieve, particularly in air-conditioned or centrally heated homes.But at the very least, you should keep your cigars in an airtight cupboard or box, away from any heat source, preferably in the coolest place in the house. Keep the cigars in their cedar boxes as the cedar helps to preserve them. You could also put a damp sponge in the cupboard. Put the cigar boxes in plastic bags if you like, to stop evaporation, spraying a little water into the bag before you put the box in. If you put a damp sponge or a glass of water in the bag, not too close to the cigars, it will help humidify them (as long as the bag isn't completely sealed so that there is some air flow, and the box of cigars is partially open).

Some experts suggest that you store cigars in an airtight bag in the vegetable crisper compartment of your refrigerator.  But, in this case, you should take a cigar out of the fridge at least half an hour before you want to smoke it, so that it can get back to room temperature. This is a method of storage, which has many dissenters, that you have to be particularly careful with. If you put cigars in the refrigerator, the airtight bag (with excess air expelled before you close or seal it) is essential. You can also get small humidifiers from leading cigar merchants. These come in different shapes and sizes (ranging from pill box types to small strips of plastic), and you put them in the cigar box (having removed a cigar or two). The moistened sponge or chalk in these devices will help keep the cigars humidified (but be careful to check once a month that the sponge hasn't dried out). Metal tubes, which work in a similar way, are also available.

Many importers and merchants use Zip Lock or other seal-able heavy plastic bags to send cigars to major clients, and they are very useful, particularly if you are traveling with cigars. Keep them in the box, and put a slightly damp sponge in the bag or spray the inside of the bag with a little water.

 If cigars are stored in a warm climate, bugs can sometimes appear (the tobacco beetle, in particular). Heat helps the larvae to hatch. You should never store cigars anywhere near direct sunlight, or exposed to sea breezes. If you store cigars at a low temperature, you have to raise the humidity to compensate.

Humidors come normally made of wood such as walnut, mahogany, and rosewood (though there are also Plexiglas models on the market), usually at fancy prices, and in many sizes. They are only really worth buying if you smoke cigars regularly. You should make sure that the lid, which should be heavy, closes tightly and that there is a hygrometer to monitor the humidity level. The humidor should be well made and unvarnished inside. Keep an eye on it, and remember, the humidor only looks after humidity, not the temperature, so you still have to find a suitable location for it. it's useful if the humidor comes with trays at various levels, so that you can store different sizes separately and rotate cigars within the box. Prices can range from $200 to over $2,000, but at the top end, the price you pay is for the humidors as furniture as much as for its functional use. For example, Viscount Linley, cabinet-maker and nephew of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, now offers beautifully crafted humidors through Dunhill starting at $2,000. The Plexiglas models retail for under $200 and are serviceable enough. Choose your humidor carefully: many are ineffective or need careful monitoring.

Small humidors made of wood or leather are also available for travelers. Some such as Davidoff even market briefcases with special cigar and accessory compartments, or built-in mini-humidors. There are a number of pocket cigar cases on the market. The best are made of leather, and the most convenient design is the expandable, rigid "telescope" type which can take large or small cigars. Some pocket cases come with mini-moisturizing units. For the cigar smoker who has everything, there are any number of items on the market such as brass, silver, and gold-plated cigar tubes, fancy lighters, and silver match holders.
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