A Closer Look at a Time-Tested Favorite that Helps Keep Your Cigars in Superior Shape
For years, I used distilled water and floral foam in one way or another for a workable, bare-bones, humidification method. But this was a tricky approach, and I was always adjusting to account for too much or too little humidity. And this was especially fussy when the seasons changed. So, like many other enthusiasts, I looked for longer term and more accurate humidity regulation. And this is where propylene glycol (PG) enters the picture. Although it sounds like something you’d learn about in science class, propylene glycol, in its most basic terms, is just a slightly sweet, syrupy, liquid. In fact, it’s pretty much safe all-around and is found in everything from ice cream to baby lotion.
That being said, I wouldn’t go adding propylene glycol to your humidification device just yet. See, pure propylene glycol won’t help—in fact the opposite is true—it’ll harm your cigars, and you’ll end up worse off than if you used nothing. What you’re looking for is a PG Solution specifically for humidors—essentially a mixture of propylene glycol and distilled water. While it sounds simple enough for a DIY backyard chemist to attempt—it’s easier and less expensive overall to go with one of the ready-made options available under different names and formulations. For example, an affordable choice is our very own Famous Humidor Solution, which maintains a steady, relative humidity level and can provide months of secure hibernation for your premium cigars.
What is propylene glycol really? And why is it used in so many different products? How does a Humidor Solution with PG help my cigars? Read further to get the answers to these questions and more in 5 Things You Need to Know…
Humidor Solution is easier to say than its scientific name
Propylene glycol is a synthetic chemical—known officially under the names propane 1,2-diol or 1,2-propanediol. PG starts off as a chemical called propene (a byproduct of the fuel industry or the fermentation of plants), which is turned into propylene oxide and then transformed into propylene glycol by adding water.
PG is sometimes listed on products by its other chemical-sounding names like trimethyl glycol, methyl ethyl glycol, or dihydroxypropane. Regardless of what it’s called, it’s the same non-toxic, clear, odorless liquid found in thousands of household products.
PG keeps your cigars fresh and makes your S’mores taste good
Who wants a dry marshmallow? Or a dry cigar? Interestingly, propylene glycol helps with cigars and S’mores in the same way—by maintaining an acceptable moisture level.
Those aren’t the only common uses for propylene glycol though. This versatile and syrupy liquid is used in a variety of ways from providing moisture (a humectant) to acting as an anti-caking agent, a solvent, a preservative, and a thickener, to name just a few applications. So, take a look and you’ll find propylene glycol in ice cream, fast food, flavored popcorn, dried soups, marinades, seasoning packets, and drinks like sodas, flavored teas, and alcohols. PG isn’t only found in food aisles at the supermarket, you’ll also find propylene glycol in common products in other sections as well.
It’s found in nearly every ‘health & beauty’ aisle at the grocery store
The next time you go food shopping, walk over to the Health and Beauty section and PG can be found everywhere. Close your eyes and pick a product. Does your better half use a skin moisturizer? It most likely has propylene glycol in it. Do you have any over-the-counter pain meds, anti-inflammatories, allergy pills, or vitamins at home? Yeah, they all contain propylene glycol too. And if you use toothpaste, a deodorant stick, or cologne/perfume daily, you’re using products with PG.
And when an enthusiast reaches into his humidor to select a cigar—it’s probably being kept in perfect relative humidity by a solution containing propylene glycol.
Humidor solution is not pure propylene glycol
As I mentioned before, using pure propylene glycol as a humidor solution is definitely not recommended. Propylene glycol needs to be mixed with distilled water in order to provide the correct relative humidity to properly store and age your cigars. Beyond relative humidity, a PG solution for humidors also works to prevent mold and bacteria growth in your humidor and on your cigars.
Also, while it sounds simple enough—don’t try to mix a DIY humidor solution at home. You need to get the correct ratio of PG to distilled water in order to achieve the desired results. Plus, cigar solution is cheap and there are many different formulations available to enthusiasts—like Famous Humidor Solution.
How humidor solution works
In a cigar humidor solution, propylene glycol and distilled water work in tandem to provide ideal relative humidity and inhibit mold and bacteria growth. Basically, PG absorbs (is hygroscopic) any humidity over 70% and the distilled water releases moisture. Distilled water contains no minerals or impurities, and this prevents calcification on your humidifier and a mold or bacteria outbreak in your humidor or on your cigars. You can use a PG based cigar solution in a variety of humidifiers from foam based to crystal gel jars.
When deciding on how you’re going to humidify your cigar collection, there are a number of choices out there. For my money, a cigar humidor solution is an affordable and effective way to make sure cigars are being kept in ideal storage conditions.