While smoking cigars is the father of all hobbies, properly storing them and keeping them well-protected is a craft of its own. Most cigar smokers will own humidors and almost all modern humidors come with a hygrometer, either digital or analog. These measuring units often tend to be inaccurate out of the box which is why you need to know how to calibrate your hygrometer. Moreover, they also tend to go bad after a few months or years. This is why keeping them calibrated is crucial to your cigar’s quality.
In this article, we are going to discuss all the things required to calibrate analog and digital models. We will go over the following:
- Preparing your materials
- Using the salt method
- Using alternative methods
- Calibrating digital hygrometers
If you want to learn more about hygrometers and see which are the top models for this year, head over to my full guide on some of the best cigar hygrometers for humidors! There, we’ve discussed both analog and digital models and have given you a few extra tips on how to choose the right one for your own humidor.
You can also learn how to adjust the humidity in your humidor once you’ve set everything up by clicking here. Now, let’s jump straight into this!
Preparing your materials
When it comes to calibrating your hygrometers, you won’t necessarily need a ton of special equipment. This is especially valid if you’re performing the salt method. If you want to use alternative methods, you will often need to buy calibration packs and other items to help you with the process. One of the only requirements of any proper calibration is having an airtight box. This is often done with a zip-lock bag or inside a glass pet cage. Ziplock bags work the best as they have a relatively small volume and can control the relative humidity with ease.
Using the salt method
To use the salt method in order to calibrate your hygrometer, you will need to go through the following steps:
- Add a teaspoon of salt into a cup and moisten it slightly with a little bit of water (without dissolving it).
- Using a ziplock bag or an air-sealed container, place the cup inside.
- Put your hygrometer inside and wait for 24 hours before you do the first reading.
- At the end of the first day, you should be looking at a hygrometer that shows you 75% humidity inside.
- If it is up or down, you have to either turn the dials or press the calibrate button. Some digital models will also have a calibration dial.
- Place the hygrometer back for one more hour to make sure it stays at 75%.
That is the whole test done! With analog hygrometers, you might want to repeat this a few times per year. It can also be done on a larger scale or with more hygrometers, assuming you have more than one humidor box to take care of.
Using alternative methods
In order to prevent your cigars from going bad, you can also use alternative methods to control and measure the humidity in your humidors. You can also rely on these alternative methods to calibrate your humidor. One of the most widely-known brands to help you with that is Boveda. They have their own line of humidification products that also includes a hygrometer calibration pack.
The brand offers you two options – a single calibration pack and a two-way calibration pack. The single calibration consists of a package that can create an atmosphere of exactly 75% around it, assuming it is in an airtight box. This will give your hygrometer plenty of time (over the course of 1 day) to calibrate itself accurately to that humidity level. Before putting the hygrometer in the box, you have to manually reset it or put its dials on 75%. The two-way calibration is slightly more accurate, as it also includes a 32% pack. This makes the hygrometer a bit more flexible, as it will have to first calibrate itself to 75% and then to 32%, giving it more range across the humidity spectrum.
If you are on the market looking for a good cigar humidor, I highly recommend checking out my Full Buyer’s Guide on that topic!
How to Calibrate a Digital Hygrometer
Digital hygrometers work by using a slightly different technology than analog ones but they typically yield similar (if not slightly more accurate) results. They are equally easy to calibrate, especially when they have that feature built into them. The issue is when a digital hygrometer doesn’t have the calibration dial or button. In these cases, you will have to check with the manufacturer and see how you can potentially reset the unit and give it a base humidity number.
Models that do allow calibration, however, will require the same steps as with analog models. For instance, reset them and put them in an environment that you know is 75%. One example of that type of environment could be using the salt method or a calibration kit from companies that produce those. One of the most famous ones out there is the Boveda calibration kits. I also recommend their hydration packs which are some of the finest on the market. Baring their price, they will guarantee your cigar’s safety and quality even after months in the humidor.
Now, let’s answer some common questions regarding this topic…
Frequently Asked Questions
Do cigar humidor hygrometers need to be calibrated?
Yes, no matter if your hygrometer is analog or digital, you should calibrate it at least once per year. Cheaper analog models might require more frequent calibrations, as they don’t tend to last as long as digital ones when it comes to accuracy.
How accurate are cheaper analog hygrometers?
In terms of accuracy, analog hygrometers often move within a +/- 7% range of what the actual humidity is.
What are the benefits of digital hygrometers?
One of the main advantages of digital hygrometers is that they can give you more information. Most models also tell you the temperature and give you an average reading for the last day (or more) of the humidity inside the humidor. Some more advanced models can even connect with your phone via an app or wi-fi. All that, however, comes at a cost and they tend to be a few times the price of normal analog hygrometers.
Why do you need to calibrate your hygrometers?
In order to ensure that your hygrometer is providing you with accurate readings of the inside of the humidor, you have to have it calibrated. Cigars are extremely sensitive to their surrounding climate, which mostly includes humidity and temperature. Storing them in an environment that can be controlled will mean nothing if you can’t keep a constant eye on these two factors. This is why you need to trust your hygrometer. And the only way to trust it is by having it calibrated as often as possible.
Knowing how to calibrate your hygrometer will be of the utmost importance if you want to keep cigars in your home or office. One of the major factors for the cigar’s aging process is their surrounding environment. If the temperature and humidity are kept in check, the cigars will have a much better chance of aging well, developing extra taste notes, and also building up some plume. All that won’t be possible with a faulty hygrometer, which is why I hope this article was useful to you!