Humidification For Your Humidor

 


9. Humidification Beads & Gels

Humidification beads are a moisture sensitive silica material which absorbs and desorbs moisture in order to offset changes in relative humidity (RH) in your humidor. The beads are generally available preset to a specific RH, in the case of cigars 60%, 65% and 70%.

Humidification beads were first developed for the art and museum industry and are used extensively by that industry for the stable storage of priceless artifacts and art.

A question that is often asked; “Are humidification beads the same as ordinary desiccant silica gel?” Definitely NOT! Humidification beads give off water vapor, as well as absorb it, to maintain a specific RH which is ideal for a cigars particular need. This is not the case with silica gel which can only absorb water then must be dried out after it is saturated. By nature silica gel is not meant to control humidity, only lower it.
 
Humidification beads are the premier product for precise control in terms of performance, cost effectiveness, and simplicity.

One good point to remember is humidification beads have an indefinite life span. There is nothing to wear out and all that is needed to maintain them is either the addition of distilled water or the drying out of the beads if they become water logged.

It is extremely important, anything other than distilled water will ultimately ruin the beads. All the impurities in tap water will be drawn in by the beads and remain there. Ultimately the beads will get plugged up and not work anymore. The same is tru with any type of humidifier solution (also known as 50/50 solution) this will also ruin the beads in the long run.

How much is needed for a humidor:

Here are some quantities for various containers.
5 cubic feet requires 1 pound of humidification beads.
1/3 pound of beads per 50 quarts (coolerdors)
1 ounce of beads per 50 count in a desktop humidor (so a 100 count would need 2 ounces, 150 count 3 ounces etc.)

Calculating the cubic area of your humidor:
Measure the depth, width and height of you humidor (ie. 24” D, 36” W and 48” H
Multiply the three; 24x36x48=41472 cubic inches
Divide 41472 by 1728 (# of cubic inches in a cubic foot) 41472/1728= 24 cubic feet
Divide the cubic feet by 5 (number of cubic feet per pound) 24/5 = 4.8
You would need 4.8 pounds of humidification beads for this humidor.

Remember that these calculations and quantities are the minimum amount you should put in a given space for control of RH. You can however place more in your humidor than these amounts without the chance of harming your cigars or the humidor, the right RH will still be maintained. The additional beads will only increase the amount of stored moisture which will just extend the amount of time before any distilled water needs to be added. They will also help the humidor recover to the proper RH quicker after the lid or door is opened.

When to add distilled water to the beads when they get dry:

There are a number of ways to do this but whichever method you chose only add enough distilled water to make 70-75% of the beads clear and the rest either opaque or white. This gives the beads the ability to absorb excess humidity introduced by more moist cigars you may add to your humidor.

A good method  is using a spray bottle filled it with distilled water. When the beads need water, just spray them until they have absorbed enough distilled water. This method will work well if you have the beads in a mesh bag or dish.

You can just pour distilled water on the beads and pour off the excess, but doing it this way,  the beads can fracture. One thing to remember, fracturing will not affect the efficiency of the beads or ruin them in any way, they will still do their job.

You can put a container of distilled water, like a bowl, next to the beads and let them absorb the distilled water in this way. When they have absorbed all they can remove the bowl. This method is effective but takes a while for the beads to absorb the water.

Another method is to place a paper towel that has been wet down with distilled water on the beads. They will soak up the moisture and re-charge.

If  the beads are going white, the optimal is to have about 70-75% of them clear. Don't try to get them all clear because if you do they  cannot absorb any sudden rise in humidity in your humidor.

A great variety of containers you can use, is a drawstring mesh bag, place the beads in a shot glass or small dish, put them is a leftover container with holes drilled in the lid, nylon stockings, or replace the black plastic rectangular humidifier that comes with alot of humidors or any other container. The main point of whatever container you choose is to have the greatest amount of surface area as possible exposed to the air. If possible the beads should be no more than 1 to 1 ½ inches deep, this way they will work the best.
 
How to tell when the beads need water:
 
The color of the beads is the dead give away. When they are full of distilled water they are pretty much clear and when they are completely dried out they are a bright white. Believe me you will be able to tell the difference.
 

Polymer Crystals

 

Polymer Crystals on the other hand, (Polyacrylamide) is an oderless non-toxic crossed-base potassium polymer mixed with Propylene Glycol and distilled water.
 
The benifits are a longer shelf life, especially of that compared to your ordinary sponge type humidifiers by 10 to 1. There is no mold or bacteria to deal with or spillage.
 
Each gel absorbs up to 400 x it weight of water. When the crystals start to shrink, simply refill with solution or distilled water and within 10-15 minutes, the gels are complete.(careful not to overfill more than 80% allowing for expansion) Repeat as often as you would with your monthly humidor maintenance, if needed.
   

Propylene Glycol


Propylene glycol is a colorless and innocuous liquid with two favorable characteristics for its use in humidors. First, the formation of mold and bacteria are prevented. Secondly, this solution forms a thin layer on the surface of the humidifier that allows absorbing the humidity level of over 70% and emits humidity below 70%.

Thus, the humidifier is self-adjusted automatically stabilize the level of humidity approximately at 70%.

Special solution of 50% of propylene glycol and 50% of distilled water are commonly used.

It is necessary to wait a few days so as the propylene glycol forms a surface layer and an optimal humidity level is achieved. Propylene glycol is also known as 1,2 Propanediol. However, it should not be confused with ethylene glycol (it is also called glycol).

The purity of the propylene glycol meets all the drugs and food safety standards. The distilled water has an advantage over normal water because it protects the humidifier against calcification and mold.

Normal water contains minerals that can clog the pores of the humidifier sponge. Also, common water contains chlorine and bacteria that can produce a negative impact on the humidor aroma and can cause mold formation.


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