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How Does Shipping Affect Cigars? Temperature, Humidity, and You

How Does Shipping Affect Cigars?  Temperature, Humidity, and You

Anyone that has ever shopped at Amazon or SmallBatch knows that there is immense satisfaction in placing an order on Saturday and receiving a package on Monday.  It just feels right, like the universe is in equilibrium. This is how life should be. And, from a business standpoint, we love providing top-tier customer service in a way that enhances your cigar experience.  But instant gratification isn’t the only reason that we’ve committed to using priority/first class mail with every purchase –shipping speeds help improve the quality of your cigar! 

What is Relative Humidity (RH)?

Without getting too technical, relative humidity is expressed as a percentage of how much moisture is in the air compared to how much can actually be in the air at that temperature.  We’re talking about saturation points, with 100% RH being fully saturated.

How does shipping affect cigars?  How long should I wait before smoking a cigar? Why we Use Priority Mail - SmallBatchCigar.com

This is because temperature and humidity have a very important relationship that work with each other like a sliding scale.  If all things remain constant, a rise in temperature would cause a drop in relative humidity overall. 

How does temperature affect humidity?

When the air gets warmer, relative humidity actually begins to decrease and vice versa – when the air becomes colder, RH increases.  This is because colder temperatures require less moisture to reach 100%, or become fully saturated. 

Wait a minute… This means that all things are relative and my hygrometer is useless.  Right?

If we didn’t have a preference for temperature, yes – the desired relative humidity inside your humidor would change based on the ambient temperature. That’s why most cigar enthusiasts prefer to keep their cigars around 65-69 degrees Fahrenheit.  This gives us a baseline to establish our 65-69% desired relative humidity inside our humidors.

What does this have to do with me?

How does shipping affect cigars?  How long should I wait before smoking a cigar? Why we Use Priority Mail - SmallBatchCigar.com

Last May we purchased a fine-tuned sensor and shipped it around the United States to see just what happened inside packages once they leave SmallBatch Headquarters.  This device would record temperature and humidity every minute to four decimal places, giving us more than enough data to work with.  What we found wasn’t exactly surprising, but reinforced our decision to put your box in your hands as fast as possible.

Over the course of 22 days, our temperature readings showed an average of 74.05 (rounded) degrees.  Yet, before we could begin celebrating, we noticed that there were several six hour or greater periods where the temperature was above 90 degrees. In fact, the highest recorded temperature was 94.66 degrees while the lowest temperature recorded was 43.62 degrees. That means that if we had cigars inside that package, they would have been subjected to temperature changes over 50 degrees between the lowest and highest temps.  

Likewise, humidity was recorded at an average of 70.44 RH. The changes here were much more drastic, recording a low of 33.81% RH and a maximum of 100% RH. And this was in May, not even the hottest time of year.

This is what contributes to what we call the Sick Period for cigars – the time after shipping that your cigars will underperform because of the temperature and humidity changes they have to endure to arrive at your doorstep.

And, the Sick Period isn’t exclusive to online retailers.  Brick and mortar stores like our very own Maxamar Ultimate Cigars in Orange, CA receives cigars the same way you do: through the mail.

What else could go wrong?

Another experiment conducted by Popular Mechanics measured the amount of times a package was dropped between Fedex, UPS, and USPS using overnight shipping. They used a sensor to determine how often a package was dropped with a force of 6 g’s or greater, equivalent to a fall of 2.5 feet.  USPS scored the highest with an average of only .5 drops when using overnight shipping.  We expect the average to increase in correlation with the amount of travel time. Likewise, Fedex and UPS recorded an average of 3.1 and 2 drops respectively.

They also recorded the amount of “flips” that their packages experienced, and USPS was flipped an average of 12.5 times in an overnight trip.

The Bottom Line

We strongly believe putting your cigars in your hands faster results in a better experience, both in satisfaction and when you light up the cigar that you’ve been waiting on.  Each additional day that your cigars are in transit is a day that your cigars are at risk.

How does shipping affect cigars?  How long should I wait before smoking a cigar? Why we Use Priority Mail - SmallBatchCigar.com Bottom Line

There is no question in our minds that priority mail (or first class for more local areas) is the absolute minimum shipping speed that should be used when transporting cigars.

A Better Way

We offer free, priority / first class shipping with every purchase because you deserve it.  In fact, if you’re shopping elsewhere, we strongly encourage you to upgrade to the fastest shipping method available to mitigate the risks associated with transportation.

How does shipping affect cigars?  Small Batch Cigars answers the question

We also ensure that every package is first paired with a complimentary boveda pack to help stabilize your cigars during transit, wrapped with plastic wrap to reduce cigar-on-cigar casualties, and then carefully enclosed with a ridiculous amount of bubble wrap.

How Long Should I Wait Before Smoking My Cigars?

How does shipping affect cigars?  How long should I wait before smoking a cigar? Why we Use Priority Mail - SmallBatchCigar.com

While smoking your cigars right off the truck (ROTT) seems reasonable, the reality is that we need to let our cigars rest in the humidor to acclimate to the desired smoking conditions.  Smoking them too soon after receiving your shipment almost always results in disappointment.

The answer is dependent on the frequency and intensity of stress placed on the cigar, but we’ve found that 10-14 days in your humidor is usually enough rest for the ideal experience.

Leave your comment
7/19/2017 7:03 AM
As always, every package I receive from SBC is delivered quickly, packaged amazingly, and in great condition. Thank you!
8/13/2017 10:51 AM
Great article from SBC. I definitely have noticed a difference between ROTT vs rested.
I also noticed that cigars from SBC always seemed in better shape than from some other online ordering places, and now I know why. And None of the others use Boveda and wrapping like SBC - which I've always wondered about.

That's also why I ship all my gifts with Boveda packs - to make sure the RH stays as consistent as I can make it. It's good to have a researched reason now to support what I've been doing. 🙂
8/14/2017 5:24 PM
You folks take customer service more seriously than any other company I purchase from. And that's why you got a customer for life In me!
8/29/2017 5:08 AM
Before this reading this article, I always would wait 2 weeks to smoke cigars, but that was more for my preference of acclimating them to my humidor's stable environment. But after reading this great article, had more of a reason to do so.
This is an excellent article on the effects of shipping on cigars , and in general, basic summary of relative humidity and the temperature.
Thank you
9/26/2017 11:38 AM
I always wondered if shipping was an issue, I always used to shop from the big cigar chains. Thanks reddit/cigars for the great respect and faith in SBC, you have a new customer!
10/20/2017 10:24 PM
Can China mail it
10/23/2017 12:48 PM
In this day where customer service is often an oxymoron, SBC stands heads and shoulders above many of their peers. The selection at SBC is excellent and often includes new releases others do not. The packaging performed by SBC is second to none - it’s like breaking into a plastic safe! Once you remove the plastic, there is always a Boveda pack to further protect Cigars from humidity variations. Great job!
4/24/2018 2:11 AM
Very true.  I’ve never had a cigar smoking experience where the effects mentioned in this article didn’t hold true.  Irrespective of your temptation, follow their advice.  Don’t be a novice.  T. Ray, Dallas TX
7/6/2018 9:42 PM
I just found your website from I don’t know where or how but Sweet Baby Jesus! Am I glad I did. You guys carry some cigars I’ve been searching for for years and the information you put out is exceptional, concise and entertaining. I have cigars in my cart and can’t wait to start placing my orders!
9/9/2018 7:19 PM
Thank you for the information. It says a lot that you are trying to monitor humidity temperature and dropping of packages.  
That is why I buy my cigars at small batch  
Thank u,
5/29/2019 6:30 AM
This is the first time I’ve read this article. It’s very interesting. Thank you.
Ricky Hamlin
5/29/2019 10:12 AM
I just received my first order from small batch and I am very impressed by the packaging, they are easily the best I've seen. The order had 3 cigars, the cigars were in a plastic bag with a 69% Boveda and then wrapped with bubble wrap, then tissue paper, then wrapped with plastic wrap.
2/1/2020 6:18 AM
I didn't know this..Thank you for the information.
2/21/2020 6:15 PM
Thank u very much
Does it matter if I keep the box of cigars never opened in my humidors?
Or keep my box wrapped?
4/17/2020 6:09 AM
great article , thanks 4 the in put!
5/24/2020 9:00 AM
Tim, cigars age just fine the way they're shipped.  Sealed or otherwise, they're good to go right in your humidor.

Thanks for asking!
12/31/2020 5:22 PM
This is the first article I read that explains it this well. Good job guys.
1/12/2021 5:33 PM
What if you don't have a humidor?
2/18/2021 3:39 PM
I dont think there is a noticeable difference. Could you try a blind experiment where you ship the same cigar from a box, to  very far location? Track it with your gadget, make sure it fluctuates, or ship it again somewhere else. And then have someone blind smoke vs. Right out of your own box (no travel)  and have them pick which is which. That would be cool
3/9/2021 5:49 AM
Paula, if you don't have a humidor you can store your cigars in the plastic bag that we ship them in. The Boveda pack will keep your cigars at the proper moisture for at least 3-4 weeks depending on the storage climate.

Preferably out of the sun in a cool place.  :D
3/9/2021 5:51 AM
John, that's an interesting experiment!

Here's one that you can taste yourself as well. Order a fiver of cigars of your choice, and then smoke one instantly as soon as you get it from the mailbox.

Then smoke another one three days later, a week later, ten days later, and two weeks later

We always want to try and smoke something as soon as a new cigar comes in, but we have to tell ourselves that we can't judge that cigar based on it's week 1 performance because of the sick period.
5/8/2021 3:31 PM
Awesome and informative!thankx-boston mike