How to rehydrate cigars safely is a matter of patience. It requires several weeks and several stages before a dry cigar is back to its original fresh state.
Do not lose hope and don’t throw away your cigars. With the help of a few humidity pouches or a humidor you have all the tools to revive a dry cigar.
Read on to find out how to rehydrate cigars without ruining their texture and flavor.
Can You Revive a Dry Cigar?
The short answer is: yes! You can absolutely revive a dry cigar but you have to know what you are doing.
The rehumidification process is all about gradually increasing the moisture level in the cigar. The worst thing you can do is shower it with water or crank up the humidor to the highest humidity level.
When a cigar is dried out it is fragile. Immediately bringing it to the other extreme would completely ruin your cigar.
As long as the integrity of the cigar is still there, you can save it. By integrity we mean these two requirements:
- The cigar is not so dry that all the natural oils have evaporated
- The wrapper is undamaged – no cracks, no tears
If the cigar still meets these two prerequisites then you stand a good chance of bringing it back to life. When the wrapper is damaged or the filling tinder dry it is a sad day. Those cigars are too far gone and won’t make it. RIP.
How Can I Tell If a Cigar Is Dried Out?
Hold the cigar between the thumb and index finger of both hands. Then, gently press into the cigar. If the cigar has some give but then immediately bounces back when you relief the pressure it is still fresh.
You can tell if a cigar is dried out when pressing into it has no effect. A hard cigar is a dry cigar.
Don’t force it and apply even more pressure because this could damage the wrapper. A dry cigar can still be saved but that is no longer possible when the wrapper is cracked.
Two Common Mistakes
A cigar drying out does not happen overnight if you are storing it right. Even with poor storage it can take several days for a cigar to dry out.
We mention this because it is quite a common mistake to make. Many cigar lovers think their cigars have dried out when that is actually not the case.
Sometimes, people think a cigar is dried up when it is simply nearer the end of its life. All cigars lose some of their natural oils with time. If you notice that the cigar is not as ‘fresh’ as when you first bought it then it is probably time to fire it up.
In this case, there is no need to start the long rehumidification process. Just sit down, cut the tip and enjoy it, sooner rather than later.
The second common mistake is people thinking the cigar is dried out when it is actually the opposite. When a humidor is set too high the structure of the cigar changes; cigars become softer and more spongey.
Dry cigars are bad but overly moist cigars are no good either. Over-humidified cigars don’t burn well and if they have been moist for too long might even develop mold.
So, pay close attention to your humidor settings and make sure it does not go above 69° Fahrenheit. Adjust your humidor settings if you notice that cigars are on the softer side.
How Do You Rehydrate a Cigar with a Humidor?
Dry cigars does not mean that your humidor no longer works. Likely, all it needs is a cleaning and reset. This is how.
- Empty out the humidor. Store the cigars inside a ziplock bag in the meantime.
- Moisten a clean cloth with distilled water and wipe the humidor interior clean.
- Clean the humidification device of the humidor also using a cloth moistened with distilled water.
- Rehumidify the humidification device of your humidor. How this is best done depends on the specific device and humidor.
- Place the humidification device back in the humidor and let the humidor rest for 24 hours.
- After the 24 hours, remove the cigars from the ziplock back and place them back in the humidor.
- Every other day, switch the position of the cigars by moving those at the bottom to the top. This is to evenly and gradually rehumidify the cigars.
- Continue the cigar rotations for 1 – 3 weeks.
After the first week, you can check the cigar texture every few days. You know the cigars are ready to smoke when there is some give when you press into it.
It is important to only use distilled water, not tap water. There are chemicals in tap water that will affect the seasoning of the humidor.
It is okay if the humidor is not yet back at the ideal humidity for cigars. As the humidity inside the humidor improves so will the moisture content of the cigars. Placing dried out cigars in a too humid container could cause the cigars to burst open.
How Do You Rehydrate a Cigar Without a Humidor?
Don’t store your cigars in a humidor? Not a problem, you can still rehydrate your dried out cigars. All you need is two different size ziplock bags, a sponge and distilled water.
- Take the smaller ziplock bag and punch in a few small holes with a paperclip.
- place the dry cigars in the smaller ziplock bag.
- Take a clean sponge and wet it using distilled water. Squeeze the sponge to remove any excess water.
- Place the sponge at the bottom of the larger ziplock bag.
- Place the smaller ziplock bag with cigars inside the larger ziplock bag.
- Press out as much air as possible before sealing the ziplock bag.
- Once a day, rotate the cigars from left to right so that the cigar closest to the sponge alternates every day.
- Once a day, check whether the sponge is still moist. Repeat step 2 – 6 if the sponge has lost its moisture.
The holes do not need to be large, that is why we recommend using a paperclip.
A sponge that is too wet will soak the entire bag and shock the dry cigars. If the cigars become wet you might as well throw them away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Dry Cigars Still Good?
Dry cigars that are not damaged and with an intact wrapper can still be saved. Gradually rehumidifying them will bring back the intended texture. Once they are back at the right humidity they are perfectly fine to smoke.
How Quickly Do Cigars Dry Out?
A cigar can dry out in a matter of days or over several weeks depending on the type of cigar and environment. Short filler cigars dry out faster than long filler cigars. Outside of a humidor a cigar can dry out within days while in a humidor the drying happens over weeks.
Is It Okay to Smoke a Dry Cigar?
It is okay to smoke a dry cigar but you won’t get the same flavor and experience. Dry cigars burn faster which does not give enough time for the leaves to impart their flavor. A dry cigar tastes bitter and releases a more pungent smell.
Finding dried out cigars is no reason to panic. In most cases they can still be salvaged and smoked with pleasure.
As long as there are no tears or cracks in the wrapper and the cigar has not lost its natural oils completely they can be rehumidified. It is possible to rehydrate cigars both with or without a humidor.
A thorough cleaning and resetting of the humidor makes it the ideal environment for dry cigars to regain their moisture. Let the humidor and the cigars slowly return to the right humidity together.
Cigars that are not kept in a humidor can be rehydrated in ziplock bags. A moist sponge will gradually increase the humidity inside the ziplock bags and rehydrate the cigars simultaneously.
In both rehydration methods it is important to only use distilled water. This is because chlorine and other elements found in tap water will affect the flavor of the cigars.
Another important step to remember is to rotate the cigars. This is a general rule for storing cigars but becomes even more important when rehydrating them.
Systematically rotate the cigars so that the cigar closest to the humidification device or sponge alternates. This allows for a more even rehumidification process. The reasoning is similar to why you rotate an oven tray; a more even distribution of heat and cook time.
No one is happy to find dried out cigars but now you know that they can still be saved. Rehydrating cigars does require some patience but once you have lit that baby it will be worth it. No cigar should go to waste!