Cigar Cooler vs Humidor: Which One Works Best?
Once their cigar collection grows large enough, every cigar aficionado has to ask the question, “how should I be storing my cigars?” The sheer number of storage options might feel overwhelming. There are cigar boxes, coolers, and, of course, humidors, which are often thought of as end-all of cigar storage devices.
While there is no question a humidor is your most fail safe cigar storage option—they are easy to maintain and contain higher quality technology and hardware—a coolerador can present an intriguing option, especially if you are constrained by budget. That said, when you are weighing your costs against and the overall value of your cigar collection, you might look to information on how cooleradors actually work to decide if it is appropriate to meet your needs. Read on below to find out more information on the benefits of both the humidor and coolerador, and learn more about components of each that could help in your decision making.
Cigar Storage 101
Maybe you’re wondering why cigars need proper storing in the first place? Cigars are artfully rolled with two key ingredients of a cigar are tobacco leaves and water. There is a necessary balance of moisture required for a cigar to ignite and smoke to perfection, so maintaining the right level of humidity is key for maintaining peak freshness.
If a cigar loses its moisture, it will dry out, which can damage its quality, taste, consistency, and even construction. On the other hand, when exposed to too much moisture, a cigar will taste soggy, burn out quickly, or have a plugged draw. Overly humid cigars can even develop mold, which is a cigar smoker’s worst enemy. Simply put, proper storage is the difference maker in whether a cigar lasts indefinitely or dries out and becomes unsmokable.
The ideal storage container should monitor temperature and humidity. Whatever the temperature and humidity level you choose, those settings should be kept constant because fluctuations in heat or humidity can cause cigars to crack or split. The goal is to keep your cigars at the same temperature and humidity as the shop from which they were purchased.
So, with the groundwork laid, let’s look at your options:
As the name suggests, a coolerador is really just a food or beer color that has been retrofitted to store cigars. Coolers are typically well-insulated, assuming you opt for one with a good seal, and are large enough to contain hundreds of cigars, whether loose or boxed. Most importantly, a coolerador often costs much less than a humidor.
Like most DIY options, a coolerador has its downsides. For starters, you will need to purchase additional equipment to maintain and monitor the container’s internal humidity and temperature, like a crystal-based humidifier and a digital hygrometer. While these items add on to your storage costs, your total bill could likely be less than other built-out storage options.
The risk with cooleradors comes with controlling temperatures, which can fluctuate more than they would in a humidor. Overexposure to moisture is the death of a cigar collection. If you choose the coolerador route, you may want to purchase cigars that are already wrapped in cellophane since the more separated your individual cigars are within the coolerador the better.
If your collection is not big enough to store in a coolerador, there is the smaller-sized “tupperador” option. Cigar storage in a plastic bin necessitates essentially the same process and equipment as coolerador, in a small volume plastic storage container. If you go this route, you should invest in some humidity pouches to outfit your tupperador and ensure your cigars are properly humidified.
Option 2: Humidor
The first cigar humidor was invented by an Irish furniture maker named Terrance Manning in 1887, and it has been a must-have for every cigar collector ever since. Humidors act as humidifiers to keep cigars fresh. They vary in style, and are designed in sizes ranging from a convenient tissue-box size to large-scale, temperature controlled rooms. True aficionados tend to have multiple humidor options both for the ease of traveling, and to separate brands and keep flavors from intermingling.
Since both the technology and the hardware on a humidor tend to be superior to DIY options, humidors are often a more expensive storage option than coolerador. Unlike the coolerador, however, whose components will periodically need replacing, the humidor is generally an all-in-one, long lasting cigar storage solution. Most come equipped with a moisture-controlled cooling system, so all you’ll need is a power source to maintain its operation.
The three notable components of any humidor are (1) the thermostat, (2) the humidifier, and (3) the hygrometer.
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The thermostat will tell you what temperature it is inside of your humidor. If you want your cigars to maintain top conditions, they should be left at a temperature between 68-73°F. If your humidor doesn’t have a thermostat built-in, a simple thermometer can still provide invaluable insight on the conditions inside. As a reminder, always keep temperatures steady.
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This is the most important element in a humidor, bar none. Depending on the size of
your humidor, the humidifier can vary in size and complexity. Its purpose is to maintain moisture so that cigars will stay plump, maintain peak freshness, and burn slowly. The humidity level should stay at around 65-72%. But in order for any of this to happen, a humidor needs a source of water. Some users prefer a simple humidor sponge, while others opt for moisture sources like floral foam, which works best with propylene glycol instead of water because it automatically maintains 70% humidity. That said, many humidors come equipped with electric humidifiers, so you won’t have to worry about replacing humidity sources.
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The last crucial component of your humidor is the hygrometer. It
measures humidity levels inside the box to help to track moisture. Hygrometers come in both digital and analog models, and can be added on to a humidifier or built into one. It is important to check your hygrometer once every few weeks to ensure your humidor is running optimally.
If you are serious about cigars, there’s no two ways about it: a humidor is the way to go. Though costs can be higher up front, humidors give you the comfort of easy moisture and temperature control, without a lot of monitoring, follow-up, and fuss.
Once you’ve gotten your hands on a high-quality humidor, you should consider another essential for any cigar lover: a Stage V Cigar holder. A simple, versatile solution for cigar lovers looking to rest their cigar or avoid dirtying it up on an unhygienic surface, Stage V holders are crafted with industrial-strength neodymium magnets that attach easily to golf carts, boats, or cars. With a Stage V, you can rest easy knowing your surfaces will stay as smooth, clean, and elegant as the cigars you smoke.