One of the most commonly asked questions regarding cigars is how long do they actually last? This can be interpreted in a few ways so in the following post we break it down into the following categories:
- How long will cigars last without a humidor?
- How long will cigars last inside a humidor?
- How long do cigars last in a ziploc bag?
Cigars are in actual fact are quite fragile and delicate. It is important to take care of your cigars to have the best smoking experience possible. The best way to do that is with a humidor, these are used to control the environment at the optimal temperature and humidity.
Cigars are best preserved when stored in the same climate conditions as the region the tobacco came from. This is actually quite specific:
- Humidity: 68-74%
- Max Temperature: 73°F (23°C)
- Ideal Conditions: 70°F (21°C) and 70% humidity.
In addition to these specific temperatures, they are stored best in a completely Spanish Cedar wooden humidor. This protects against tobacco beetles and enhances the flavor and aroma of the cigars.
How long will Cigars Last Without a Humidor?
If you have just purchased a cigar or a few cigars, as long as they are in their wrappers you’ll want to smoke them within a month.
Out of the wrapper and without any preservation methods your cigars will not last longer than 2 days. This depends on the environment where you live, as mentioned they need very specific climate conditions so if you live in say Cuba for example your cigars probably don’t need a humidor.
If its colder or warmer than this very specific temperature and humidity range then they will begin to decay and rapidly at that.
How long will Cigars Last Inside a Humidor?
Within a cigar humidor your cigars are happy as can be. The optimal conditions means your cigar will last for up to five years. Depending on the quality of humidor and if any issues occur with the hygrometer or humidifier of course.
Investing in a high quality humidor from the start is always best! Even with the best humidor you will still need to calibrate and ensure it is set up properly before entrusting it with your cigars.
Set aside a time in your calendar every 3months or even more frequently to check in and make sure it is working properly. A slip in the humidity or if you hygrometer needs re-calibrating will result in a fast decline in the condition of your cigars. No one wants to experience that.
After the Humidor is Set Up
After following the set up instructions and ensuring everything is calibrated your cigars actually require very little maintenance. Just check in every so often to make sure everything is running smoothly. There are a few other things we recommend doing.
Use Dividers to Categorize your Cigars
If you have very different cigars then it can be beneficial to separate them accordingly. Spending time cooped up next to each other means flavors and scents can wear off on each other. Many humidors come with dividers made from Spanish Cedar so why not use these to keep your cigars separate.
If you buy your cigars by the box then you can store the entire box inside your humidor, if it is big enough. This works to really lock in the scent and flavor as well.
Calibrate your Hygrometer
As a rule of thumb every 3 months I will re-calibrate my hygrometer. This is important because this is what reads the humidity level in the humidor. If this device is reading inaccurately then you can buy a replacement.
There are a few techniques for calibrating a hygrometer including the towel or salt method. If you are unsure of these there are a few guides online with step by step processes.
Aerate your Humidor
For some of the high end humidors, they have built in ventilators. If yours doesn’t have this, then it can be a wise idea to open your humidor every month to let a bit of fresh air in. Just like most things made from natural materials, they do need to ‘breathe’ so to speak.
This is a very easy task and if you smoke monthly or even more often you won’t need to do this. All you have to do is open the lid and leave it open for 1 to 2 minutes. Like I said, if you smoke frequently, your cigars are getting enough air just by you opening and closing the lid to choose your cigar.
It does take a couple of hours for the humidor to control the environment once again. It is also a good way to test everything is working properly.
Do Cigars Age Well?
Just like cheese and wine, cigars also age well and develop even more flavor and aroma. Many cigar aficionados will store their cigars for 5 years before smoking them but of course you don’t need to do this. Many will be significantly enhanced after 12-24 months in a properly functioning humidor.
There is no rule of thumb for cigars and the aging process so you can do a little more research into specific brands and styles if you are interested in this.
How Long Do Cigars Last in a Ziploc Bag?
Although not the best method of storage ziploc bags can be used to store cigars for short periods of time. If you haven’t purchased a travel humidor then this can be a quick fix for your travels. For those spontaneous weekend trips, a ziploc bag will be fine.
We have actually dedicated a post about how to store cigars without a humidor so be sure to read through that for some other ideas!
If you are a casual cigar smoker then chances are you don’t see the point in investing in a quality humidor and that’s fair enough.
So a ziploc bag, yes it is a short term, quick storage solution to preserve your cigars. Especially if you aren’t a regular cigar smoker then this is a great way to store them until you do get the chance to properly enjoy it.
How Long Can I Store Cigars in a Ziploc Bag?
In a ziploc bag your cigars will last roughly a few weeks. I wouldn’t recommend pushing it anywhere past that. If you don’t want to purchase a cigar humidor the best thing you can do is purchase your cigars one at a time and plan to smoke them almost immediately.
However, there are a few other tricks you can use to extend this to a little longer. Although these are no way near as good as other methods and I would be very strict with monitoring the cigars.
Best Way to Store Cigars in a Ziploc Bag
As per the image, collect your cigars and a small sponge. Wet the sponge and squeeze it until it is completely free of excess water.
This works as a little humidifier within the bag to control the environment. This is not going to be optimal but it is going to be better than nothing!
Place the sponge into the bag along with the cigars and ensure it is sealed tight. Check in every day or so to make sure the sponge hasn’t dried completely. If it has, you will need to wet it again and squeeze out the excess water.
There will be a fair few external factors that will change how long the cigars last, including the outside temperatures as well as humidity. While this is a very good alternative, I wouldn’t rely on it long term.
To preserve the life of your cigars you need to store them properly. They do last a few days on their own but anything more and they will deteriorate rapidly. There are a few tricks you can use for short term storage solutions including using a ziploc bag and damp sponge. In a humidor cigars will last up to 5 years if it is operating perfectly through this time. If you are interested in purchasing a cigar humidor, be sure to read through our comprehensive reviews first!