Maybe you forgot a cigar box inside your closet. Or you neglected your humidor. In any case, your cigars are hard and as dry as your mother-in-law’s meatloaf. Do not worry, they can be restored! All you need to do is remember one essential rule: Restoring dry cigars is a slow process. Let’s take a look at several methods to restore dry cigars.
1) The Quarter Turn Method
Slowly expose the open cigar box to humidity in a cellar or other damp location rotating the cigars for about a week (longer if the cigars are extremely dry). Then place the cigars in a humidor at 70% humidity and every 2-3 days give them a quarter turn rotation until all cigars have been fully rotated at least twice. This method is recommended by Theo Rudman in his book “Complete Pocket Guide to Cigars”.
2) The Ziplock Bag Method
Make little holes on a large ziplock bag and insert the open box of cigars. Close the bag and insert it into a larger ziplock bag. Insert a slightly damp sponge in the second bag and seal. As with the previous method, rotate the cigars from top to bottom and side to side every couple of days to ensure even humidification.
3) The Damp Towel Method
Wrap the closed cigar box with a damp towel for 2 weeks.
4) The Plastic Container Method
You will need a reliable hygrometer. Place the hygrometer and the cigars in an airtight, transparent container so that you can read the relative humidity (RH) without opening the container. After a few hours, read the RH. Use a humidifier device and put a little water (+/- a teaspoon) on the sponge and place it in the container. Keep it closed. After a while, RH should go up a little. Repeat every 24 hours until RH is 70%. Once you get this level, maintain it by adding water as needed during 2 or 3 weeks. Never go under 65%, and don’t panic if the RH goes up to 75%, but avoid going over this maximum. During this process, keep the container in a cool place away from light and heat.
5) The Dry Humidor Method
Let the cigars rest for a week in a humidor that hasn’t been charged recently. Then, partially fill the humidifier and let the cigars rest for a week. You can now fully charge the humidifier.
6) The Hot Shower Method
Place the open cigar box inside the bathroom while you take a hot shower (close the box if the cigars are too dry). When you are finished, close the box to trap the moisture inside. Rotate the cigars every 2-3 days. After two weeks of doing this, you can place the cigars inside a properly maintained humidor.
These methods all have in common time and slow humidification of the cigars. Choose the one that is more convenient to you. It is always a good idea to take the cigars out of their cellophane wrappers or tubes before restoring them. Once restored, wait a few weeks before smoking until the humidity stabilizes. You may not be able to restore the cigars to their original quality but they can certainly be enjoyable smokes if you take the time to bring them back to life.