Cigars are finicky things. The pleasure derived from them can be muted considerably if they're improperly stored for even a short period of time. Too much moisture in the air results in a spongy cigar and increases the chances of mold. Too little and the burn will be uneven and fast. Humidors solve all of these issues, right?

 Yes, but it's a little more complicated than that.

Humidors with humidifiers and hygrometers can regulate humidity and temperature. And indeed, if you're serious about keeping your cigars in the best condition possible, they're the right tool for the job. But humidors aren't set and forget devices that just work for all eternity with no maintenance required. There are three best practices tips owners should follow in order to get optimal performance out of their humidors and the ideal taste and burn out of their cigars.

 Humidors are an enclosure, typically offering an internal cedar lining (although other less absorbent woods can be used). On their own, they're essentially just containers. It's the humidifier inside that does all the heavy lifting by moisturizing the air via the liquid you add to them, and not just any liquid will do. You need to use either a dedicated humidifier solution or distilled water, the latter of which you can get by the gallon at almost any grocery store or pharmacy. There's a reason distilled water is required for other devices that involve humidified air, such as CPAP machines. Tap water contains minerals which can result in scaling within your humidor and profoundly affect the flavor of your cigars over time. It also contains microbes, which can aid in the growth of mold. Distilled water has neither and is the right choice for the long term health of your humidor.

 Humidors should be regularly opened for short periods of time to reduce mustiness – one hour per week is usually sufficient. Even when aging, this won't stop the marrying of oils within a selection of cigars. What it will accomplish is a much needed refresh of the air inside, and though the moisture content of an open humidor may not be ideal for cigars over a long period of time, an hour certainly won't do any harm. But never allowing a full replacement of the internal air can do quite a bit of harm. Any enclosed, humidified environment will develop a musty air quality over time. Musty air will eventually permeate the cigar and impart an odd taste that can be offending to the palate and olfactory senses.

And finally, keep an eye out for the presence of mold, which can develop even with the use of distilled water. Mold is the death knell of cigars and can spread rapidly. If you see mold on some of your selection, you'll want to pull everything out and inspect all cigars carefully. Bag the unaffected cigars, discard the moldy ones then clean the humidor thoroughly and air dry before replenishing. But what is often mistaken for mold is actually only bloom, a substance that forms as a byproduct of the oils within the tobacco. Bloom will appear as grey to white spotting on cigars, which may look concerning but isn't. As opposed to the telltale blue/green fuzz or fur of mold, bloom can easily be removed simply by brushing your finger over it. Mold, alternately, grows on the surface of the cigar (and if you see it, will often be growing within the cigar as well) and can't be wiped off.

So to recap, use distilled water in your humidifier, perform a weekly air exchange and make sure you inspect your cigars at least once a week (ideally when opening your humidor for the air exchange) to ensure you don't have any unwanted mold growth. Follow these steps and your cigars will be ready to enjoy.