When you are cooking a big slab of meat in a smoker, you oftentimes measure two different temperatures. First is the conventional one, using a thermometer to measure the temperature of the air inside of the smoker. But many people will also choose to use a temperature probe that is placed inside the meat, the idea being that while it’s helpful to know the temperature of the air in the smoker; when it comes to knowing when it’s ready to eat, all that matters is the internal temperature.
So why not do the same things for cigars?
Enter the CigarMedics HumidiMeter.
WHAT IS IT?
The HumidiMeter is a moisture meter that has been specifically designed for cigars. It’s a small black device with a screen and a singular button. There’s a cap that is attached to the device via string, and under that cap are two metal probes. These two probes are what detects the moisture content of a cigar, so the idea is that you simply insert them into the cigar to get a reading.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
There is an optional calibration device that can be purchased for $10.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The idea behind the device is to measure the moisture content inside of the cigars, sort of how the temperature probe measures the internal temperature of the meat versus the temperature of a smoker. This information is helpful for a variety of reasons such as: knowing whether your cigars are in good condition to be smoked, trying to identify if a large humidor is properly humidifying cigars in all locations or even trying to fine-tune what relative humidity you prefer to store cigars at.
As far as using the device goes it’s pretty simple. Hit the on button, remove the lid and then place the two probes inside the foot of your cigar. You’ll want to extend them fully in, so more than just the tip. You should then get a reading. You can also do the same thing on the cap of the cigar, though you will likely find the readings to be a bit higher due to the physics of a cigar. You shouldn’t leave the device in the cigar after 10 seconds, and you should wipe off the probes to remove any residual oil.
The readings will be delivered to you on the screen in relative humidity, which is easy to understand but also not really true.
Relative humidity, which is what your humidor’s hygrometer measures, is the moisture content in the air. It’s not a measurement that can be used on solids like a cigar. What the HumidiMeter is actually measuring is the moisture content within a solid, specifically the filler tobaccos inside, and it produces results that should be between 12.5-15 percent MC, short for moisture content, in a cigar.
The problem is that cigar smokers really only know relative humidity, so to try and explain to the cigar-smoking population that your humidor should be 65-70 percent relative humidity, but your cigars should be 12.5-15 percent moisture content is going to be a massive uphill battle.
So what this device does is measure the moisture content and then convert it to a number that would make sense in relative humidity. The company did this by testing the moisture content of different types of cigars—both size and tobacco content—at various temperatures to help come up with what it thinks is the best formula for converting moisture content into a number that you can understand.
HOW DOES THE CALIBRATION WORK?
Just place the two probes inside of the screws and your device should read 70 percent.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
To my knowledge, it’s the only product like this that produces results in relative humidity. You could use a moisture meter or an even more expensive water activity meter, but the data that it will produce won’t really make sense to you to help answer the question of whether the cigar is ready to be smoked.
- It’s Simple — Hit the on button, open the cap and place the two probes inside a cigar. That’s it. There’s no conversion chart, no guessing if the number is good or bad, just a very simple process.
- It Fits Cigars — Finding a moisture meter that can fit cigars is tough because most of the cheaper ones are designed for measuring the moisture content of wood or building materials like drywall. The probes are oftentimes too far apart for most cigars. Even if you were to find one that fit a cigar, the readings wouldn’t make much sense. The HumidiMeter can fit cigars as thin as 38 ring gauge.
- It’s Affordable — And even if you did find one that fit cigar, it can get very expensive. There are moisture meters that can fit cigars but they are hundreds of dollars. If you wanted to get even more scientific you could use a moisture activity meter, which is even more expensive and would require you to cut off part of the cigar.
- It Won’t Fix Most Issues I Have With Cigars — This device can only help you identify whether the moisture content in your cigars is at an ideal level. It will do nothing to fix poor bunching, bad tobacco or even user error like improper lighting. This is a tool to help fix a specific set of problems that some people have, but I don’t know if it’s going to be a revolutionary tool for most.
- It’s Only as Good as the Conversion — The device is more or less reliant on the conversion that takes place between moisture content to a relative humidity reading. The issue with that is it’s not based on pure science. It was developed based on the data that people then had to interpret. Without seeing the data or the process that the company used, it’s impossible to know how good this actually is. Of note, I’m told the device doesn’t really work that well on candela tobaccos because of how the candela tobacco holds moisture. Fortunately, I can’t think of any cigars with candela in the filler.
I believe I have seen someone use the Delmhorst BD2100 ($390) or at least something that looked very similar. Given that that device is 13 times the price of the HumidiMeter I’m not sure how fair of a comparison it is.
There are other moisture meters and I spent about 45 minutes searching to try to find some alternatives. I ended up buying a cheaper one (pictured above) that looked like the pins might be close enough for a cigar, but the pins were too far away for anything under 60 ring gauge.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
It’s a soft yes, but I think there are some cases where a device like this will be helpful. If you buy cigars via the internet and want to figure out if they are in good smoking condition, the HumidiMeter will help. If you have a large cabinet humidor or a walk-in humidor and want to make sure that all of your cigars in various corners are getting proper humidification, this will help. If you are about to smoke a high-priced cigar or a treasured cigar and want to make sure that it’s in good condition, this is a solid investment. While this probably won’t be a device I use on a weekly basis going forward, at $30 if it can save me from wasting three cigars because they weren’t ready to be smoked, it’s probably going to pay for itself. So the next time I go to smoke a cigar I only have one of left, especially one where I likely can’t find another, I’ll probably reach for the device and just make sure that the cigar is ready to be smoked.