Now that we’re in a month into the new year and hopefully all writing Year of the Rooster on our checks, we return to our fairly-weekly segment of Ask halfwheel, where readers send in questions about cigars, the cigar industry, or some more-or-less related topic.

Recently, reader Jim sent in the following request for some help:

Since retiring, I have moved to the desert Southwest New Mexico where the ambient humidity is usually 25-35%. I’m having a helluva time trying to keep my smokes fresh. I’ve tried the little bottles with the little pellets in them, the brown pouches, damp sponges etc. Nothing seems to keep them from drying out. I think my next attempt will be to put them in sealed containers, but I’m a little afraid of mold by doing that. Any ideas? Thanks.

Since I live in probably the most unfriendly environment (Phoenix, Ariz.) for cigars of our staff, I’ll attempt to help Jim out with his problem.

Jim leaves out a big part of the cigar storage equation in his question, which is the type of container he is using to store his cigars. While he covered several types of humidification solutions, none of them will be effective if they are operating in an open air environment, which even with the smallest of imperfections a humidor will become, making it a futile experiment in caring for your cigars.

Assuming Jim is using some sort of standard humidor, the first thing I would ask him to do is check the seal, which this video does a good job explaining. Effectively, take a dollar bill, lay it halfway across the sides of the humidor, close the lid and see if you can slip it out. If it comes out easily, you’re quite likely losing your humidified air as well, no matter what you’re kind of humidification device you’re using.

In this case, my guess is that Jim’s current humidor or storage device simply isn’t keeping the humidified air inside, something that might be able to be fixed with some adhesive foam but which really necessitates investment in a better solution.

I’d also ask like to ask Jim some additional questions about what his current setup is like. I’d like to make sure that he has it out of any direct sunlight or other high-heat area, since that most certainly isn’t helping. In the case he had a bigger humidor, say a cabinet, chest or other large container, a fan could make a big difference in helping to circulate the humidified air around the space, as he might be getting dry cigars from a particular area of the humidor.

Additionally, I’d want to make sure he wasn’t leaving the humidor open for extended periods of time, since every second it’s open, humidified air is escaping. Some times simple things that get easily overlooked are the biggest culprits.

As far as mold, that is a risk that comes no matter what kind of setup you are using, though is fairly easy to avoid with regular maintenance and inspection.

Hopefully that helps Jim’s situation and maybe one you’re dealing with as well. Keeping cigars in proper conditions isn’t terribly hard but does require regular attention and a commitment to giving your cigars the ideal environment for their well-being through quality equipment and care.

You’ve got questions about cigars and we’d like to answer them, preferably every Friday but at least as often as we can. If you have a question—burning or not—about cigars, the cigar industry or halfwheel, submit it here.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.