PigFish

Understanding Percent Moisture Content: A discussion of the relationships between rH and Temperature in Cigar Storage

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ayepatz   

Fascinating stuff, Ray. 

Presumably, as soon as you remove a cigar from your controlled environment to smoke it, environmental factors will start to affect the moisture content of your cigar?

In wet Scotland, for example, the cigar may start increasing in moisture content, in the Sahara desert, rapidly decreasing.

Have you any insight as to how quickly such changes occur? It seems logical that longer vitolas will change more, as they take longer to smoke.

Should you then aim to set your storage settings to allow for these environmental conditions when smoking? e.g. In rainy Scotland store at a lower moisture content level to counteract an increase in moisture content during smoking?

 

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shlomo   
1 hour ago, ayepatz said:

Fascinating stuff, Ray. 

Presumably, as soon as you remove a cigar from your controlled environment to smoke it, environmental factors will start to affect the moisture content of your cigar?

In wet Scotland, for example, the cigar may start increasing in moisture content, in the Sahara desert, rapidly decreasing.

Have you any insight as to how quickly such changes occur? It seems logical that longer vitolas will change more, as they take longer to smoke.

Should you then aim to set your storage settings to allow for these environmental conditions when smoking? e.g. In rainy Scotland store at a lower moisture content level to counteract an increase in moisture content during smoking?

 

Temperature plays a part here too. Colder environments will lead to water moving much slower than in warmer environments.

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PigFish   

.... and so does the differential in both rH and temperature. The wider the differential, the higher rate of diffusion or adsorption, desorption.

More later! -tP

 

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ayepatz   

After watching @PigFish's tutorial, I decided to further study my storage conditions.

I currently store long term stuff in large, sealed tupperdors, with Boveda packs, in an unheated understairs cupboard at 65/65 - 65%rh at 65°F(18°C) - and whenever I smoke straight from these conditions, the cigars generally smoke very well. There is, surprisingly (but thankfully!) very little temperature variance in that cupboard.

Judging by Ray's graphic, that gives me a moisture content of around 13.2%. Possibly a smidgen higher.

As 12-14% moisture content appears to be a generally accepted "purple patch" for smoking, as far as I can gather from the Internet, I'm quite happy to go along with that for long term storage.

My desktop humi is stored in my home office. Here the figure is closer to 65/68 - 65%rh at 68°F(20°C), which would appear, from the graph, to indicate a slightly lower moisture content of around, or just under 13%. Again, it's pretty stable, temperature-wise.

As an experiment, I've ordered some 62%rh Boveda packs to replace the 65s in the desktop humi. Once again referring to Ray's graphic, coupled with the 68°F(20°C) temperature, this should hopefully bring the moisture content down to around 12.5%.

It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the smoking experience.

Cheers Ray!

Iain

 

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shlomo   
14 hours ago, PigFish said:

.... and so does the differential in both rH and temperature. The wider the differential, the higher rate of diffusion or adsorption, desorption.

More later! -tP

 

Did not know that. Why would that be?

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PigFish   
1 hour ago, shlomo said:

Did not know that. Why would that be?

... you are pushing the limits of my memory here. I believe this is Fick's second law but could be wrong. I did some scrounging for white papers on the subject (as it pertains to tobacco) and did not come up with what I wanted. I had a lot of this data on an old computer and frankly I cannot remember where I stashed in on backup drives. It is no longer at my finger tips.

Again, as I remember it, concentrations move from high to low via a gradient, rate dependent on concentration. As I recall, Fick's first and second laws. I am sure that there are refinements on this, but just don't remember them.

Cheers! -Ray

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PigFish   
6 hours ago, ayepatz said:

After watching @PigFish's tutorial, I decided to further study my storage conditions.

I currently store long term stuff in large, sealed tupperdors, with Boveda packs, in an unheated understairs cupboard at 65/65 - 65%rh at 65°F(18°C) - and whenever I smoke straight from these conditions, the cigars generally smoke very well. There is, surprisingly (but thankfully!) very little temperature variance in that cupboard.

Judging by Ray's graphic, that gives me a moisture content of around 13.2%. Possibly a smidgen higher.

As 12-14% moisture content appears to be a generally accepted "purple patch" for smoking, as far as I can gather from the Internet, I'm quite happy to go along with that for long term storage.

My desktop humi is stored in my home office. Here the figure is closer to 65/68 - 65%rh at 68°F(20°C), which would appear, from the graph, to indicate a slightly lower moisture content of around, or just under 13%. Again, it's pretty stable, temperature-wise.

As an experiment, I've ordered some 62%rh Boveda packs to replace the 65s in the desktop humi. Once again referring to Ray's graphic, coupled with the 68°F(20°C) temperature, this should hopefully bring the moisture content down to around 12.5%.

It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the smoking experience.

Cheers Ray!

Iain

 

The chart represents (IMHO) relationships to rH, temperature and PMC... REMEMBER... this is burly tobacco, not Cuban cigar tobacco. The goal was to exploit the data to express the relationships, not to take the data as gospel for your (mine and our) Cuban cigars.

Just keep that in mind when looking at the data. Don't (my advice) go grabbing at anyone's items as holy grail data... That is not the spirit for which it was shared. It is reference material.

I would be skeptical of any work that is not very specific and documented work regarding specific numbers for percent moisture content of Cuban tobacco. I have not found it, and I have looked damn hard.

I think you will do better with the 62 Boveda, but this is just my opinion and my taste.

Let me reiterate something. Please don't take hearsay data from some guy about what he speculates are 'the correct' PMC content numbers for Cuban tobacco. If he has that data, and this is an area of taste, ask him to prove it. Don't then take the chart above and go changing your tobacco lifestyle for the same reasons. This is a chart of Burley tobacco. Tobacco... yes! Cuban tobacco... no (a different strain) and not exactly the same.

I am glad you guys like the data. It is reference data... It demonstrates and proves relative relationships. IT IS NOT the holy grail of anything. It exemplifies relationships.

Cheers mates! -Ray

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PigFish   
On 7/5/2017 at 1:34 PM, ayepatz said:

Fascinating stuff, Ray. 

Presumably, as soon as you remove a cigar from your controlled environment to smoke it, environmental factors will start to affect the moisture content of your cigar?

In wet Scotland, for example, the cigar may start increasing in moisture content, in the Sahara desert, rapidly decreasing.

Have you any insight as to how quickly such changes occur? It seems logical that longer vitolas will change more, as they take longer to smoke.

Should you then aim to set your storage settings to allow for these environmental conditions when smoking? e.g. In rainy Scotland store at a lower moisture content level to counteract an increase in moisture content during smoking?

 

Again, I have white papers on this somewhere but here is the problem with them. Most of these studies involve the 'production' of tobacco, and furthermore from a cigarette manufacturing perspective. It is not the 'cigarette' issue that bothers me about the data, rather that the data is 'single leaf' centric. This makes the data useful for those processing tobacco from the curing barn forward, but it does not address the bunching of multiple layers of non-homogenious tobacco into a finished product.

Single leaf tobacco will have straight forward hysteresis numbers (found empirically) in these papers. Cigars on the other hand will (would) require specific tests performed on them just as the single leaf tests, but centered around the finished cigar product rather than the single leaf 'raw' product.

I have always said that I prefer a 6 month (or longer) 'dwell' period for new tobacco to my humidor. And this assumes good control over the environment and reasonable storage temperatures. I store at 70F.

I wish my friend Nik would chime in here. The reason why I bring him up is because I understand how he stores, and he smokes a lot more than I do today. As a result, he has a system of 'current cigar' turnover in his humidor where he relies on his understanding of the demonstrated desorption of his newer smoking stock to keep him going with a constant stream of 'ready to smoke' acclimatized cigars. I trust his judgement and taste. I smoke mostly stock I have owned for 10 years or more where I don't rely on a system of 'speedy acclimatization.' He smokes newer cigars often, and relies on his system of storage rotation and timing to keep in 'in the black' with his cigars.

If he reads this he will likely chime in. If not, I will email him and ask him to...

-Ray 

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Thanks for the information, very helpful.

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soutso   
On 06/07/2017 at 6:34 AM, ayepatz said:

Fascinating stuff, Ray. 

Presumably, as soon as you remove a cigar from your controlled environment to smoke it, environmental factors will start to affect the moisture content of your cigar?

In wet Scotland, for example, the cigar may start increasing in moisture content, in the Sahara desert, rapidly decreasing.

Have you any insight as to how quickly such changes occur? It seems logical that longer vitolas will change more, as they take longer to smoke.

Should you then aim to set your storage settings to allow for these environmental conditions when smoking? e.g. In rainy Scotland store at a lower moisture content level to counteract an increase in moisture content during smoking?

 

 

27 minutes ago, PigFish said:

Again, I have white papers on this somewhere but here is the problem with them. Most of these studies involve the 'production' of tobacco, and furthermore from a cigarette manufacturing perspective. It is not the 'cigarette' issue that bothers me about the data, rather that the data is 'single leaf' centric. This makes the data useful for those processing tobacco from the curing barn forward, but it does not address the bunching of multiple layers of non-homogenious tobacco into a finished product.

Single leaf tobacco will have straight forward hysteresis numbers (found empirically) in these papers. Cigars on the other hand will (would) require specific tests performed on them just as the single leaf tests, but centered around the finished cigar product rather than the single leaf 'raw' product.

I have always said that I prefer a 6 month (or longer) 'dwell' period for new tobacco to my humidor. And this assumes good control over the environment and reasonable storage temperatures. I store at 70F.

I wish my friend Nik would chime in here. The reason why I bring him up is because I understand how he stores, and he smokes a lot more than I do today. As a result, he has a system of 'current cigar' turnover in his humidor where he relies on his understanding of the demonstrated desorption of his newer smoking stock to keep him going with a constant stream of 'ready to smoke' acclimatized cigars. I trust his judgement and taste. I smoke mostly stock I have owned for 10 years or more where I don't rely on a system of 'speedy acclimatization.' He smokes newer cigars often, and relies on his system of storage rotation and timing to keep in 'in the black' with his cigars.

If he reads this he will likely chime in. If not, I will email him and ask him to...

-Ray 

Hello Ray and Iain,

Iain, First I'll let you know what I do and then give you my opinion etc

I have a running humidor that controls both RH and temp. I set it at 60RH and 21.1 Degrees Celsius (approx 70 degrees Fahrenheit) Having used these preferred settings for a few years now, I have a feel for what characteristics an acclimatised cigar (at 60RH, 21.1 Degrea Celsius) should show me. I.e. Evenly firm, band loose due to shrinkage etc

I mainly smoke Perla, Minuto and PC vitolas. It's true that the smaller cigars get to my preferred settings quicker than their longer and thicker counterparts. All cigars that I buy arrive too moist or wet so my first goal is to lower the percentage moisture content.

If I place a box of Perlas/Minutos into my humidor, they will acclimatise to my settings in about 6-9 months. If I place a box of PCs they will take 12-15 months. In the main, I won't touch an enclosed box for 12 months. 

These timeframes are generally halved when I take the cigars out, leave them in an open tray and not shield them in their boxes. 

I need to do this as I do not have enough humidor space to balance my smoking rate and supply. I need this quick turnaround of 3-6 months. 

If the above proves anything, it is that it takes quite some time to lower the percentage moisture content of a cigar in an even way. 

The time it takes is the very reason that I don't think I can store to combat my immediate environmental conditions. Here in Sydney it can be sunny and warm one day and cold and wet the next. I cannot change my settings and combat this overnight.

As an aside, I do adjust my settings as the seasons progress but that is an "ambient driving my humidor" issue as opposed to being directly related to the cigars themselves. 

I have accepted that quite simply, some days are not ideal for smoking. Personally I find really hot weather the worst for smoking. It just adds a harshness to the experience. If only we could smoke in air conditioned indoor facilities!

Below is my humidor. You will see the three open containers. One in the middle top and two on the very bottom.

 

IMG_6187.JPG

IMG_6188.JPG

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ayepatz   

Very interesting @soutso, @PigFish.

I, too, tend to store sticks longer rather than smoke them fresh, as I prefer the flavours of more mature cigars. The majority I smoke at 2-5 years, some 10 years plus, so quick turnaround is not an issue for me.

Over the next year, I will experiment with lowering moisture levels on a selection of cigars from my collection to see the impact on flavour and burn.

Thank you both for taking the time to elucidate futher.

All the best,

Iain

 

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PigFish   
10 hours ago, ayepatz said:

Very interesting @soutso, @PigFish.

I, too, tend to store sticks longer rather than smoke them fresh, as I prefer the flavours of more mature cigars. The majority I smoke at 2-5 years, some 10 years plus, so quick turnaround is not an issue for me.

Over the next year, I will experiment with lowering moisture levels on a selection of cigars from my collection to see the impact on flavour and burn.

Thank you both for taking the time to elucidate futher.

All the best,

Iain

 

Cheers mate.

To be honest, I have never known a guy that has tried lower rH and a little higher temps that has told me he regretted it. Alas, I am still young! Great luck on your experimentation. I have been experimenting with cigar conditioning for decades now and have never regretted my pursuit of the 'perfect' PMC...

-Ray

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Ray, thank you. This was very informative.
I was about to post a new thread asking what fellow FOHers do when they receive a box of cigars with regard to acclimatization to their preferred smoking numbers.
Leave boxes closed, sealed, fully opened with lid off, lid slightly opened, remove all cigars for the short term to acclimate faster... etc etc.
I have always thought that if I wanted to smoke a cigar quickly, I take it out of the box or tube and place it in the singles drawer. As@soutso mentioned above. It seams as though from his experience and some data you have presented, that the rate of desorption moves a little quicker. And according to soutso, almost half the time according to his size cigars and settings.
So this is what I do when I want to get my filthy hands on trying a stick fairly ROTT.
I have always kept my recent box acquisitions opened just slightly (crack the lid a little) with the attempt of speeding up the process to acclimate to my numbers. Not sure if it makes much difference. Then after a few months or so, I fully close them up.
Just wanted to get a little feedback on what some of you do to your recent box purchases of smoking in the shorter term is your goal.



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PigFish   

Well, I do open tubes always and put the lids in a baggie and crack the box.

If I want to try something, I put it open in the humidor and try to give it a couple of weeks.

The fact remains that when I buy more than one box of anything it is done on the 'come.' I know any cigar I smoke may be different. I think that any cigar smoked with too much water is largely wasted. I am just moored to belief and ideology here. Whether it is mental or actual physical taste, I have come to expect that a cigar that is not properly acclimatized will taste subpar, that in the very few instances that I do try one, they are in fact, subpar...

If I am going to buy more cigars, I feel them up. For me, the best estimation I can make about a cigar is in how it feels, rigidity and weight in the hand. In a year or more, I find out if I was right or wrong!

Sorry if that is no help! -R

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Randy956   
Cheers mate.

To be honest, I have never known a guy that has tried lower rH and a little higher temps that has told me he regretted it. Alas, I am still young! Great luck on your experimentation. I have been experimenting with cigar conditioning for decades now and have never regretted my pursuit of the 'perfect' PMC...

-Ray


Ray, the physics says it makes perfect sense.

As always, you are spot on. But don't let that go to your head. LOL


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Great info, thanks! Makes it easier to  understand, all laid out in black and white, so to speak.

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I've been monitoring my desktop humi for about a week and a half now, after reading this thread.

When I wake up at 4am my humidor is showing 67%rH at 72°f. As the day progresses and the house warms, the internal temp of humi rises to 74°f while the rH drops to 65%.

Is this constant swing a cause for concern? 

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PigFish   
On 8/1/2017 at 9:11 AM, Weaponiz'd1 said:

I've been monitoring my desktop humi for about a week and a half now, after reading this thread.

When I wake up at 4am my humidor is showing 67%rH at 72°f. As the day progresses and the house warms, the internal temp of humi rises to 74°f while the rH drops to 65%.

Is this constant swing a cause for concern? 

You will likely be affected (overall) by a long wave average based on daily and seasonal conditions. No one is going to be able to 'tell you' if you are 'alright.' You should understand that is my position. Will you damage your cigars? Hell no... this is my opinion.

You need to observe your cigars regularly and be diligent. Look for seasonal changes that might cause a problem to your smoking experience. If you are a long time smoker, there is no reason to worry about your cigars simply because I posted something. That is, never been the purpose of this type of post.

Degrees of flux are in the mind of those that can measure them and perhaps see them in the smoking experiences. The question then returns to you. Do you have period where you have a track record of dealing with cigars that are hard to smoke? If no, you are fine! If yes, then there may be solutions based on ambient factors and the mean by which you control your humidor.

In my world, I don't care if you store your cigars on a table top! What this means to the reader is that the administrator, not some guru or any guy on a cigar forum (me included) are not 'qualified' to judge your cigars. If you told me that you are planning on storing on a table top, I may offer alternative suggestions! But that does not make your plan necessarily wrong. There is a lot of latitude here.

Cheers! -Piggy

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FatPete   
On 6 July 2017 at 10:06 AM, ayepatz said:

After watching @PigFish's tutorial, I decided to further study my storage conditions.

I currently store long term stuff in large, sealed tupperdors, with Boveda packs, in an unheated understairs cupboard at 65/65 - 65%rh at 65°F(18°C) - and whenever I smoke straight from these conditions, the cigars generally smoke very well. There is, surprisingly (but thankfully!) very little temperature variance in that cupboard.

Judging by Ray's graphic, that gives me a moisture content of around 13.2%. Possibly a smidgen higher.

As 12-14% moisture content appears to be a generally accepted "purple patch" for smoking, as far as I can gather from the Internet, I'm quite happy to go along with that for long term storage.

My desktop humi is stored in my home office. Here the figure is closer to 65/68 - 65%rh at 68°F(20°C), which would appear, from the graph, to indicate a slightly lower moisture content of around, or just under 13%. Again, it's pretty stable, temperature-wise.

As an experiment, I've ordered some 62%rh Boveda packs to replace the 65s in the desktop humi. Once again referring to Ray's graphic, coupled with the 68°F(20°C) temperature, this should hopefully bring the moisture content down to around 12.5%.

It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the smoking experience.

Cheers Ray!

Iain

 

Hi, I think I have finally got my noggin round the concept of the PMC of cigars I'm trying to find my Ideal.

just wondering what you thought abou Your smoking experience since lowering yours.

Cheers 

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ayepatz   
10 hours ago, FatPete said:

Hi, I think I have finally got my noggin round the concept of the PMC of cigars I'm trying to find my Ideal.

just wondering what you thought abou Your smoking experience since lowering yours.

Cheers 

I’ve not been smoking recently, but I hope to find out soon!

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