Michael Dixon has been making high-end cigar humidors by hand since 1995 and has been a professional woodworker since 1973.
He has been in the business long enough to know a high-quality humidor from a poorly made one.
According to Michael, in addition to sub-par construction, most inferior humidors (under $100) and all the Chinese made humidors come with ineffective, cheaply made moisturizers. Many of these moisturizers are either too small or too large for the size of the humidor and are responsible for many of the problems people encounter with cigar storage.
With some cigars costing over $10 each, the question of proper cigar storage takes on a new dimension.
There are two categories of moisturizers: active and passive. The active ones are electronic and contain a fan, a digital hygrometer and a foam reservoir. They are mainly used in large desktop humidors that hold 150+ cigars and in cabinet humidors for 300+ cigars. They plug into an electrical outlet, and some smaller units have batteries. It’s possible to find these active electronic units that offer a WiFi internet connection to remotely control the settings.
Passive moisturizers are used in desktop humidors only, like the ones seen here in Michael’s shop.
There are three types of passive moisturizers in the marketplace today: foam filled, salt crystal solution bags, and beaded salt solution bags.
The foam filled units have a plastic case with front vents and the interior contains a piece of oasis floral foam. On the plus side these units have the fastest recovery rate and when filled with water they evaporate moisture directly onto the cigars. On the minus side, they need to be refilled with distilled water about once a month and the humidor needs to have a hygrometer to measure the relative humidity. All of Michael’s humidors come with a humigar and a hygrometer.
Bags that contain the salt crystal solution are made by Boveda.com. They require little maintenance and maintain a 72% relative humidity which is the ideal setting for cigars. At 80% RH and above, the cigars develop mold. At 60% RH and under, they dry out, taste terrible, and are difficult to rehydrate. The Boveda bags, however, have a slow recovery rate should the humidor lid be opened allowing all the humidity to escape. It might take several hours to reach the 72% mark again. The lifespan of these bags is normally two to three months and one bag per 25 cigars is necessary.
The beaded salt solution comes in an aluminum case similar to the foam filled units but with beads instead of foam. Only the beads need to be replaced occasionally, but the recovery rate for lost humidity is the slowest of the three types of moisturizers.
You can see all of Michael Dixon’s humidors here.