Thursday, January 9, 2014

My move to humidity beads

After losing a humidifiying element to either manufacturer defect or age (I'm not really sure which) it was time for a new unit in one of my larger humidors. The unit that failed was a Cigar Classics for 300 cigars. I really like the unit because it was a freestanding unit and didn't hang from the lid or affix to a wall of my humidor. It was perfect, at the time, for the humidor it was being used in. It is a humidor with a flip-down front door and a lid. The top has a glass lid with a divided section underneath but only has slits in the bottom to allow airflow to the bottom chamber. The bottom chamber has three removable shelves and is perfect for box storage. I recently removed the shelves and stacked the boxes inside to allow a better configuration to fit the boxes inside.

The previous humidifier was a gel crystal type and after checking out my options I decided to go with humidity beads. For the sake of reviews and research I ordered a couple of different brands. The first batch came in yesterday and have been placed into their new container homes and placed inside the humidor. I have alctually decided to swap all of my crystal gel humidifiers for beads and see how they work in different size boxes.

I knew, thanks to the tracking info, that the beads would arrive yesterday afternoon so I began preparing for their arrival that morning. I rounded up all of my hygrometers and tested their calibration using the salt method. I'm glad I did this because I had a weak battery in one of my digital units and it was causing my readings to be off. If I had just swapped things over I would not have caught this and would probably have chalked it up to another issue. The instructions on the website say that a shallow container is the best option to house the beads. This lead me to a new dilemma, I didn't really have any containers that wouldn't take up way too much precious humidor real estate. I began searching the house for suitable containment.

I did find some fairly small, shallow rubbermade food containers but it was time to get creative. I started with some old foam-type humidifers and the cigar classics unit. After cleaning all of the withered gel crystals from the cigar classics container it was perfect. It already has a vented cover to gon on the top so I am safe in case of an accidental overturn. I had a couple of large rectangular units that came with carious humidors over the years. After removing the foam and screen, I was left with a shallow container with a nice vented lid. I did the same thing with some of the foam-type I had for 20-30 count humidors, the little bar size. Lastly I had an Ipod box (2 actually) that I had kept after purchasing my iPod touch. I know what you're thinking, the ipod box has no vent holes or ports. Well, you're right it didn't when I got started. Using a cordless drill and a very small bit, I riddled the lid with small un-uniform holes. This process was actually pretty lengthy since I wanted a ton of holes for the moisture to move through. If you should decide to try this just be mindful that each hole you drill weakens the plastic. You have to be cautious of this and let the drill do all of the work. If you apply too much pressure once there are a number of holes, you run a good risk of cracking the lid and rendering it useless.

By the time I had finished getting my containers ready my beads had arrived and my hygrometers were calibrated and ready to go. I did some rearranging in my humidors so the rh got pretty low from having the lids open for so long. I filled my containers with beads, leaving plenty of room as not to overcrowd them. I used distilled water per the directions instead of my beloved xikar pg solution. According to the site, since these are 2 way humidification beads the pg solution would clog the beads over time and they would fail to work properly. I used a new spray bottle to "spritz" the beads with the distilled water until about 75% were saturated. When I was done rotating stock and getting everyting back in place, I placed the containers with beads inside and went to bed. I will wait for the humidity to stabilize again and post some updates. Like I said, I have placed these in several different sized humidors so I should be able to report back sooner on the smaller ones. I am expecting the other beads to be in any day and have a couple of humidors still operating on crystal gel waiting to be swapped over. Until next time, Keep 'em toasty!

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