“How this product never existed until now, blows my mind. It’s simple, easy, cheap and so damn effective.”
That’s the sales description for the HUMI-CARE Seasoning Wipes on Cigars International’s website. When I read that I had a much different reaction, but figured it would be worth it to figure out whether or not this product was better than my methods of seasoning a humidor.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SEASON A HUMIDOR?
Seasoning a humidor is the process of introducing moisture into the interior of a wooden humidor. If you have a humidor with an interior of plastic, leather, glass or metal, this is not necessary. However, if your humidor has wood on the inside, it’s likely a good idea to season the humidor before you begin using it.
The wood inside of a humidor is likely unsealed and as such, porous. That means that it will absorb and retain moisture. If that wood is dry and you place properly humidified cigars inside, the wood might absorb the moisture from the cigars and end up damaging your cigars. If the wood has enough moisture, this problem can be avoided and you are likely to have a much easier time keeping your cigars in the condition you want them to be.
The seasoning process can be done in a variety of ways, with the most popular methods likely one of the following:
- The Sponge Method — Take a new sponge or a new paper towel, soak it in distilled water. Place the moistened sponge or paper towel on a small plate inside of your humidor and close the lid. The humidor should absorb the moisture over time.
- The Wipe Down Method — Dampen a paper towel or cloth with distilled water and wipe down the inside of your humidor. The advantage here is that this should go quicker than the sponge method. But, because you are introducing moisture directly onto the surface of the wood, you need to be careful about putting too much moisture onto the wood. Typically, most people recommend that you make one pass at a time and let the wood dry before making a second pass.
- Boveda 84 Percent Pack — Boveda sells packs that are set to 84 percent relative humidity. They function the same way as its other humidification packs, they are just set to a much higher relative humidity. Boveda recommends leaving the packs in the humidor for two weeks and using one pack per 25 cigars in your humidor.
The big question—and one that I can’t answer without seeing a humidor in person—is how long you should do the process of seasoning. I’ve always used the sponge method for desktop humidors and the wipe down method for cabinet humidors. Regardless of the method, I try to go slower in order to avoid risking damaging my cigars or the humidor itself.
WHAT IS IT?
Each HUMI-CARE Seasoning Wipe is a 4 x 4-inch cloth that is soaked in a mixture of distilled water and propylene glycol. They come individually packaged and last at least two years inside of the sealed packaging.
HUMI-CARE is a brand owned by Scandinavian Tobacco Group and largely sold through Cigars International and its affiliated retailers, though it can be found in other stores.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
$1.50-1.99 per wipe, with the price depending on the quantity you buy.
HOW DOES IT WORK
First, if there are cigars in your humidor, remove them and place them somewhere else as you don’t want cigars in your humidor while you try to season or reaseason a humidor.
Open the package up, take the wipe out of the packaging, and unfold it.
Next, open your humidor and begin to wipe down its interior. The packaging says to use 2-3 wipes over the course of 24 hours. I imagine this really depends on the size of your humidor, how dry the humidor is, where you live, etc.
As to how long you should wait to put your cigars back in the humidor, that’s a matter of debate. When it comes to seasoning a humidor I’ve always treated it like cooking brisket: low and slow.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Almost every method of seasoning a humidor will tell you to use distilled water. There is likely to be no mention of propylene glycol. That’s not to say propylene glycol isn’t used for other applications in your humidor. The special solution that your local cigar shop sells to “charge” your humidifier, or a gel-like humidification product, is likely a mixture of propylene glycol and distilled water.
The benefits of propylene glycol are two-fold. First, it is good at killing bacteria, which is helpful in reducing the risk of mold in a humidor. Second, it can be used to help maintain a specific relative humidity. I am not a scientist, nor do I really understand much of the science behind this—but in practical application for humidors, my experience and observations tell me that propylene glycol might help, but it isn’t some sort of magic solution.
I asked the company that makes these wipes why propylene glycol was included and was told it was for the antimicrobial properties. While I believe that propylene glycol will help in that regard, I’m also not sure how necessary it is here. If your humidor is having a mold infestation, I suspect it’s not due to how you seasoned your humidor unless that seasoning process went very wrong.
- It Works — Obviously this is not the most complicated product in the world, but it at least does what it says it’s going to do: introduce moisture into your humidor.
- Nice Cloth —The cloth inside feels nice and is much thicker than a typical wipe.
- Shelf Life — These wipes were two years old and still have plenty of moisture left inside of them.
- Just see the competition section.
The direct competitor appears to be something called TSC HUmidor Care Premium Seasoning Wipes, which ends up being slightly less expensive. I’ve not used these, so I’m not sure if there are any functional differences.
- A Paper Towel & Distilled Water — A gallon of distilled water costs $1. A roll of nice paper towels can be had for $1.50. You probably already own a plate. With those three things you could season a dozen or so 125-count humidors using either the wipe down or the paper towel on a plate methods.
- A Sponge & Distilled Water — Sponges are about 45 cents for some basic 3M versions, which is all you need. A gallon of distilled water is still $1. And for the $4.50 it would take to season one humidor per HUMI-CARE’s recommendation, you could season seven humidors at a time assuming you had plates or something on which to put the sponges. For those wondering why the sponges are beneficial, it’s because they provide a large amount of surface area compared to something like a paper towel or a bowl of water.
- Boveda 84 Percent ($4) — This is the one competitor where the HUMI-CARE ends up being much cheaper. Boveda would recommend four 84 percent packs for a 100-count humidor, which would be $16 compared to $4.50 for three wipes.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
This just isn’t necessary and I’m really not sure what the necessity is barring a paper towel or distilled water shortage. Seasoning your first humidor can seem a bit daunting because it’s not intuitive and there’s not a common tool or method to determine if it’s working, but the HUMI-CARE Seasoning Wipes don’t solve those frustrations. While I think that there might be some scientific benefit to using propylene glycol, my experience of seasoning dozens and dozens of humidors of all shapes and sizes over the years suggests this really isn’t necessary. Just use a sponge and some distilled water.