Almost everyone who’s big into cigars knows that almost all standardized cigars are created with a moisture content of between 12% – 15%. This may seem trivial but it’s one of the most important things to consider when caring for your collection. The reason behind this is that when a cigar’s moisture content exceeds this percentage or recedes beneath it the essential oils within the cigar will be altered and effect the overall taste, aroma and construction, usually detrimentally.
What’s important to remember is that cigars don’t just obtain moisture from one’s humidor and they don’t only lose moisture when burnt. Indeed, cigars will absorb or lose moisture dependent upon their surroundings, which’s why careful placement is critical. You can easily tell whether or not your surroundings are good for your collection without smoking them or using any outside equipment by taking them in your hand and rolling them tightly between your fingers. If the stick is very dry (lacking a oily texture) and makes a crunching sound when rolled then your environment is too dry, if on the other hand the stick is spongy and is easy to bend or exudes any water when squeezed then your environment is far too damp.
Direct sunlight is most obvious hazard to cigars and will generally dry out one’s cigar in well under 24 hrs, though the time frame changes dependent upon the particular type of cigar. If direct sunlight is paired with high, gusting winds or on a exceptionally dry day then expect your cigar to turn into a brittle mess in around an hour. Air conditioning is also a common hazard to cigars since they pull moisture directly from the air and can dry out nearby sticks just as quickly (sometimes more so) as direct sunlight. If excessive dryness occurs it’s possible to restore a small modicum of the cigars original flavors by exposing it to a controlled source of moisture (such as a sponge in a sealed container) but the true gambit of flavors brought about by the essential oils will be lost for good.
Surroundings conducive to excessive moisture can include any place which consistently holds to humidity levels of 70 to 72 percent and above. This is the point at which most cigars no longer lose moisture and instead begin to absorb it and should be avoided at all costs. This means never leave your cigars out and unprotected overnight because the general humidity levels in the air are always highest around the early morning. Also, take special care to ensure that your collection is properly sealed during the summer and winter months, as these are the two times of year when general humidity is at it’s highest point for the longest period of time. The good news is that almost all of these environmental hang-ups can be avoided simply by investing in a humidor.