In this section, you’ll learn all about humidification units for a humidor. In terms of phrasing, please note that terms like ‘humibrick’, ‘brick’, and ‘puck’ are all describing the same thing – a passive humidifier that is either round, square or rectangular and filled with either foam or crystals. Besides bricks, other humidification units include electronic models, jars, and Boveda packs. We’ll touch on each in this section.
Choosing the Humidifier That’s Right For You
Due to the variety of humidifier options available on the market, a debate rages endlessly on about which is the best. Is a crystal humidifier better than a foam one? How does a crystal jar differ from a humidifier ‘brick’? Or should you just use zero-maintenance Boveda Packs instead?
First, note that the brick is the most common type of humidification unit. When you buy a humidor, it tends to come with a brick – usually of the foam variety. As a result, most of us learn about cigar humidification with a standard foam brick.
When this brick needs to be replaced, which is typically within the first year of use, there is a question of whether one should switch to the crystal type. There are a couple of reasons why you may want to upgrade in this way.
The first is durability. Just as a kitchen sponge will contract and harden over time, so will the green foam in a standard brick. The result is that it won’t absorb water like it used to. This decline usually takes place within a year or so, compared to about three years for a crystal brick. And these days, there isn’t much difference in price between the two.
Also, the crystals in a crystal brick – typically made up of silica gel beads – are better at regulating humidity. In other words, they not only release moisture, but also absorb any excess. They are usually designed to regulate at 70% RH.
On the other hand, if you must mount your brick on the lid of the humidor due to space issues, you may prefer a foam model. This is because if you overfill a crystal brick, it can be harder to detect. Mounting an overfilled crystal brick can cause a heavy leak of excess moisture onto the cigars, though this can be avoided by patiently laying the brick upside-down for 30 minutes or so to let any leak occur on a paper towel or other unsubstantial surface.
Glycol Humidor Solution or Distilled Water?
Another common question about bricks concerns what they should be filled with. Should you use a humidifier solution (with propylene glycol) or simply distilled water?
First, if you are using just water, make sure it’s distilled, as minerals in regular tap water can cause problems in the humidor. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to add a humidifier glycol solution to a brick at least once in a while, as it keeps water from evaporating beyond 70%, as well as offering anti-fungal properties.
You could also eschew bricks altogether – and anything else you need to fill – and use Boveda packs. These can be placed pretty much anywhere in the humidor, are zero-maintenance, and simply have to be replaced every 2-3 months. For more on this option, please see our separate Boveda packs section.
For more on humidification options available at City Cigar, including electronic humidifiers and crystal jars, please keep reading. And make sure to contact us if you have any questions!
Foam Humidifier Bricks
At City Cigar, we carry various sizes and models of foam bricks. Standard sizes include 50, 100, and 250 count bricks. Although we also carry generic bricks suitable for a 15-25 count humidor, the best-selling bricks come from the Brigham company. They are of above-average durability, though please note that any foam brick will likely need to be replaced within 12 to 15 months of first use.
Crystal Humidifier Bricks
Like foam bricks, crystal bricks come in various shapes and sizes. These include 50, 100, and 250 count bricks that are either round or rectangular. The best-selling brand at City Cigar is from Brigham, which manufactures all three sizes. Crystal bricks have an expected shelf life of three to five years.
Crystal jars couldn’t be simpler to use. Just remove the lid, fill the jar with humidifier glycol solution, and humidity is released through the black grid attached to the top. The polyacrylamide crystals then regulate humidity at 70%. Crystal jars are a lower-priced alternative to a brick, meant to last for about a year before needing to be replaced.
If you have a large stock of cigars and are looking for a self-regulating humidifier, an electronic model may be perfect for you. Electronic humidifiers can be charged with batteries, or through a line that slips under the lid (or door) and plugs into the wall. If using batteries, the humidifier ‘samples’ the humidity every five minutes, but otherwise powers down to save the battery life. If using the line, the humdifier samples continuously. Either way, you can be assured that the humidifer is regularly reading the humidity level in the box, and adjusting to keep it at a consistent 70%.
At City Cigar, we carry the Cigar Oasis brand of electronic humidifier. There are various models, with the most powerful able to humidify up to 1000 cigars. They all take distilled water, have built-in hygrometers, and are factory-set to regulate humidity at 70% RH.