We’ve talked about dry boxing cigars recently with our article on Fixing Common Burn Issues, and I wanted to expand on the topic for those that aren't quite sure what it means. As far as fixes go, dry boxing cigars might just be the single easiest thing that a cigar enthusiast can do to improve their experience!
When I first heard about dry boxing cigars, it sounded like an advanced technique that requires extra special skills (and equipment.) It's actually much simpler than it sounds, and once you finish this article you’ll know everything there is about dry boxing cigars.
Why Do People Dry Box Their Cigars?
New Cigars: If you’ve seen our new shipping bags, you’ve probably noticed that they say ‘Rest Them Before You Test Them.’ This is because of the sick period that cigars undergo after travel, and you can practically guarantee that they’ll be good to go after roughly 10-14 days. Each cigar is different because individual tobacco leaves react in slightly different ways. Cigar enthusiasts can speed this resting process up, however, with the use of a dry box. You can read more on how shipping affects your cigars here.
Popping or Splitting Cigars: Sometimes you’ll notice that a cigar will pop, and the wrapper will split. This is usually caused by too much moisture inside the cigar that expands once it begins to heat up. This is sometimes remedied by smoking slower, but an even easier fix to teach is to dry box your cigar first.
Burn Problems: One of the main causes for burn problems is once again too much moisture, and dry boxing your cigars practically nips all of these issues in the bud. You can run into the opposite issue of drying out your cigars over time, but as you’ll read below it’s pretty hard to do unless you just forget about them.
Better Tasting Cigars: While it’s all up to personal preference, most of the issues with humidity translate into taste. Many prefer the effects of dry boxing on their cigars, while others may not notice much of an affect. Myself, I have certain cigars that I know perform better with some dry boxing time according to my anecdotal experience. You'll have to experiment to see if you're in this camp also, or if you prefer your cigars right out of the humidor.
What is Dry Boxing?
Let’s keep it simple and say the definition is this: dry boxing is removing cigars from humidification. For our purposes, all we’re doing is placing our cigars in a container that isn’t humidified.
Despite the name, though, dry boxing doesn’t actually consist of a completely dry box. Firstly, that would take quite a lot of innovation to work out with dehumidifiers and boxes inside of boxes. Secondly, it’s an unnecessary shock to the tobacco. Instead, we just remove our cigars from a humidity source to reap all the benefits.
What is Considered a Dry Box?
It might surprise you, but dry boxing can be done without a box at all! The same sealed bags that we send each shipment of loose cigars with can be used to dry box your stogies.
Typically, dry boxing consists of two things: cigars and a non-humidified environment. Travel humidors, tupperware, plastic bags, whatever you can come up with can be your new best friend.
You can also use your countertop – this is the most common way that I dry box my own cigars. Since I wait a few weeks before smoking new cigars, I’ll usually leave them on the counter for an hour or two before lighting them up. This helps my cigar acclimate to whatever climate I’m currently in and avoids a large number of issues.
How Long Should I Dry Box My Cigars?
If you have a watertight seal, feel free to leave your cigars in there for a week or so at a time. Plastic Tupperware, travel humidors, and thick plastic bags are great at this. In fact, Mo Maali of Patina Cigars routinely packed a weeks’ worth of cigars while on the road and found that the last cigar smoked just as good (or better) as the first. If you happen to forget them for 10+ days or so, I wouldn’t even be surprised if they still smoke like a champ.
If you have a wooden humidor, you may have to experiment with the times based on how well your humidor holds a seal. Anywhere from overnight to a couple days is probably where you’ll find the sweet spot depending on your setup and the cigar itself.
If you’re going with the countertop method, it will completely depend on the relative humidity of your current environment. Arid environments will need very little time at all, and other environments will need more time. And, it should be mentioned that extremely humid environments may have the opposite effect.