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


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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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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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.... 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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  • 3 weeks later...
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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  • 3 months later...
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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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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  • 4 months later...
  • JohnS pinned this topic
On 05/07/2017 at 6:05 AM, PigFish said:

Mods, if you find the topic worthwhile perhaps we can pin this one!

Done!

In response to @ayepatz's comment that average moisture content percentage is 12% to 14%, I've read somewhere (may need to hunt down the source) that Habanos cigars average moisture content percentage is more in the vicinity of 9% to 12% if stored at a lower rh, which many cigar enthusiasts would do (i.e. 62% to 65% being the norm rather than 70%). Also (most probably in the same article) variations outside the norm are easily detectable for cigar smokers.

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40 minutes ago, JohnS said:

Done!

In response to @ayepatz's comment that average moisture content percentage is 12% to 14%, I've read somewhere (may need to hunt down the source) that Habanos cigars average moisture content percentage is more in the vicinity of 9% to 12% if stored at a lower rh, which many cigar enthusiasts would do (i.e. 62% to 65% being the norm rather than 70%). Also (most probably in the same article) variations outside the norm are easily detectable for cigar smokers.

That would, indeed, seem to be the case, @JohnS.

PMC update - my desktop humi experiment was going well until our electric underfloor heating in that room went haywire last November. 

While I was working abroad, the thermostat went kaputt, and by the time I got back, the temperature in the room was pushing 32°C! When I opened the humi, all three bovedas were bone-dry. The hygrometer was indicating an Rh of 58%.

I replaced the 62% with 65%, as that was all I had to hand, and, thankfully, by the time I arrived home from my next work trip a month later, things had settled down again, so, that would hopefully indicate that the cigars weren’t sitting at that high temp for too long!

I haven’t smoked anything from the desktop during these last few months in order to let the PMC have a chance to even out, but I will see how things stand next week.

Worst case scenario is that they would have dropped down to the region of 8 to 9 PMC, I reckon, but I doubt they sat for very long at the higher temperature, just long enough for the bovedas to dry out, although admittedly, I’m not sure how long it takes for that to happen!

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