Hey guys, I'm Rick. I'm in the mid-atlantic area. I don't smoke regularly and have recently come into quite a few cigars. Here is the story:
I work in sales and a customer of mine heard me mention a cigar night. He came in a few days later with a large mixed bag full of cigars (around 30 or so). Up until this point, I had a few cigars in a ziploc bag from the store and a $2 single blade cutter. He mentioned that he planned to bring me many more cigars in the future. After this little event, I decided that I should get some better equipment. I picked up a couple of cutters of different types (Xikar Xi3 and a no name punch) to do some experimentation. During a trip to Vegas, I stopped by the Harley-Davidson store in one of the casinos and saw that they have a Humidor. I'm sure it was overpriced and unnecessary but I decided I wanted to pick one up when I got home. It seems to be pretty decent. I did some research on setting it up, etc. I seasoned the humidor before I put the cigars in and used distilled water in the humidifier. Here is where I started having issues.
I noticed that the humidity was running a little high. I opened the humidor to try to lower the humidity to within acceptable levels (I have since read that there is a better method for keeping 70%). After being open for a while, the humidity leveled out and we were good to go...or so I thought. After a few weeks, I decided to check the humidifier to see if it was dry. I pulled it out of the little holder in there and noticed some white fuzz on the plastic (its the kind with the little black box with foam inside). My heart sank. That humidifier did not go back into the humidor and I carefully inspected all of my cigars. The only thing I found that didn't look normal I found out later was blooms/plumes on 5 like cigars that had been left in a little box of their own. After careful inspection, I didn't find any mold on any of the cigars or anywhere in the humidor. I went to my local cigar shop and picked up a new humidifier. I filled it with distilled water and set it back in the humidor.
Once again, weeks later, I went to check on the humidifier. Alas...this is what I found:
I went to insert a photo of my new humidifier with a little mold on it...but apparently, I need 30 posts to post a link...
It looks about the same as it did on the other humidifier. However, it looks like I caught it earlier this time...it wasn't as bad on this one as the other. BUT...this time I did notice a bit of the fuzzy on the humidifier holder in there. I pulled both out and haven't done anything since...I guess I just got frustrated with it. Also, the hygrometer was reading within normal ranges.
Yesterday, I saw this customer again. He decided to give me a humidor (its a Thompson...looks like the "Arch Barrel" model) with 60-70 cigars inside. This one has a digital hygrometer. I got it home and opened it up and saw that the little plastic tab was still tucked in there. So rather than having to replace a battery for the hygrometer, I just had to pull the tab out. I pull the tab and guess what I see....53! There was a dry box-style humidifier, a little jar with "wonder gel" in it...and...get this...2 packets of SILICA GEL!!!
So here I am...I have one humidor with about 40 cigars with a moldy humidifier recently removed and nothing keeping it correct and a bigger one with 60 cigars that are all dried out. I guess I just can't win...
After doing some reading, here is my plan of attack:
-I currently have both hygrometers in a bag working on the salt test to make sure they're accurate.
-Tomorrow, I will check them and calibrate if necessary.
-I am going to inspect all of the cigars in the little humidor to make sure they are still mold free. I have read that there are some methods to "clean" small amounts of mold from cigar exteriors. Would you advise that I try to do anything like this or should I assume that if they look fine, they are fine?
-Is there some method to clean/sanitize the interior of the humidor that had the mold just to make sure everything is gone? I have a strange feeling that the new humidifier got moldy due to some spores left in the humidor from the old one but I'm not 100% sure.
-Is there a method to clean/sanitize the humidifier? Would I be able to bleach it then let it dry and try again or throw away the foam and clean/bleach the plastic and replace the foam with new? Or do I have to throw it away and buy a new one again?
-I have read about a 50-50 propylene glycol solution to use in the foam style humidifiers. I am planning to do that to try to prevent the mold this time around.
-I have also read that dry cigars can be slowly rehydrated and recovered without too much damage. My plan for this, because I have an entire humidor full of dry cigars is the bring the humidity of the entire humidor up slowly rather than to season the humidor and toss them all in and wait. I'm thinking 5-10%/week?
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Looking forward to becoming more active here.