The 70/70 Formula
by David "Doc" Diaz
Revised Friday, November 18, 2011
We have all heard the general rule of thumb that tells us that the best temperature and humidity to keep our cigars is: 70 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) and 70% Relative Humidity (%RH). It is important to understand that the 70/70 recommendation is generic. It springs from the fact that most tobacco used for cigars is grown in tropical regions-like the Dominican Republic, Honduras and, of course, Cuba, which are typically hot and humid. Plus, the cigars will smoke best in a slightly humid state. When they leave the factory, the typical cigar has between 14-17% moisture level. So, the 70/70 recommendation maintains a humidity level that will keep the cigars with enough moisture to keep them fresh and tasty.
If your cigars DO become too dry, they may become brittle and crack, or burn and taste too hot. If they are too wet, they will have a poor draw or simply not burn well and you may have trouble keeping them lit. Fortunately, your cigars are remarkably resilient and changes to their moisture content is usually slow.
Heat and cold can also be an enemy of your cigars. If you allow the temperature to get too cold on a day-to-day basis, it may end up sucking the moisture out of your cigars. If the temperature gets too high, your humidor may serve as an incubator for the hatching of tobacco beetles.
Many companies now recommend that you store cigars in a more humid environment. Altadis, Oliva, Rocky Patel, and others, suggest a humidity between 72-74%. On the other hand, I have Habanos that include instructions from the manufacturer to store them between 65-70%
I recommend that you keep your cigars at a RH between 62–72%RH. One of the main reasons I suggest this range is because there are several factors that may come to bear on the conditions of your smokes:
Error factor in measurement: No matter how much we think that our hygrometers are always accurate, there is always a potential for error in measurement. By allowing yourself a target range, you are much more apt to be successful in keeping your cigars healthy and less likely to fret over small variances. Until you feel comfortable with the knowledge of how to care for your cigars, shoot for the middle of our recommended range and you will have a built in safety valve in case of error.
Tobacco type also plays a role in determining the correct moisture level for your cigars. Tobacco leaves that are exposed to the sun longer, such as sun grown tobacco and tobacco whose leaves are on the top part of the plant, will have a higher moisture content, be thicker, and have more resins, which make them burn slower. If you have cigars made with sun grown leaves that were taken from the top part of the plant, and keep them at 71%, you may experience more burn issues as an already slow-burning leaf type will experience further combustion issues. On the other hand, if you have cigars made with shade grown leaves taken from a lower part of the plant and store them at 65%RH, you may find that the combustion is too rapid leading to a hot smoke.
I prefer to keep all my cigars at around 68%RH. This provides an allowance for a wide variety of tobacco types in my cigars. Further, I want to be sure to preserve the moisture content in my cigars and I don't want the precious oils and resins to dry out. Once these resins and oils have dried and evaporated, you may be left with a cigar that is bland and tasteless. And, there's no way of replacing these oleoresins once they have evaporated. While some evaporation is desireable, I try not to walk the "red-line."
As far as temperature goes, we recommend a range between 65–70°F. Again, the basic idea is that the tobacco used in your cigars was grown in a warm, moist environment, so keeping your humidor conditions slightly tropical is important.
So there you have it. With just a little work, you should be able to keep your stogies in prime smoking condition.
About the Author
David "Doc" Diaz is the publisher and the editor of the Stogie Fresh Cigar Publications. He has served as an educator, researcher and writer and has taught in the Health Education and Health Science field for over 30 years. He possesses an earned doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Doc is a Certified Master Tobacconist (CMT), having received this certification from the Tobacconist University and is a lifetime member of Cigar Rights of America (CRA).blog comments powered by Disqus