Building a Cooli’dor for your Cigars
You’ve outgrown your 25 count desktop humidor and need more storage space. Instead of purchasing another desktop humidor, you may as well give in to the all powerful force and opt for a “Cooli’dor”. There is no sense in fighting it… give in to the force, head to Costco or Walmart and purchase the 150 Qt Igloo as you will have it filled with cigars in 3 months time! Building a Cooli’dor will allow you to save money on an expensive large humidor and put it towards quality cigars. Cooli’dor’s work just as well as a real humidor, if not better! Below are directions for creating your very own Cooli’dor. We did not go into extensive detail, as everyone’s taste/needs will differ. This is simply a guide which will allow you to build the Cooli’dor of choice. Good luck, and have fun!
What you’ll need:
Cooler (at least 50 qt)
Old Cigar Boxes (optional – for use as cedar) – check with your local cigar shop for free boxes. If plan on storing cigars within their original cedar cigar boxes, then there is no need for extra cedar.
Hygrometer – This will measure the amount of humidity in the Cooli’dor
Humidifiers – You can use one of the following: silica beads, wet oasis foam, and an active humidifier. We suggest either Silica Beads or Wet Oasis Foam. An active humidifier is expensive.
Shelving – You can use wooden rods as shelving units or plywood. You can be as creative as you like.
Deciding where your new Cooli’dor will be placed
The first step in building a cooli’dor is deciding where in the house to keep the cooler at. You’ll want to keep it in a cool room that has minimum temperature variations. Usually this will be a closet towards the center of the apartment/house or possibly a basement if it is temperature controlled. A widely accepted temperature range for long term storage and proper aging is between 67-73F.
Deciding on the size of Cooler you will need
After deciding on the location where you Cooli’dor will reside, the next step is determining the size and spatial orientation of the cooler. Will it be standing upright, conventionally lying down, or on the top shelf laying on its side? If you are not one who can “eyeball” the amount of area you have to work with, you should probably measure the area with a tape measure.
Now it is off to the store to pick out the best cooler to fit your application. Take your time and hit a few different places. Remember to take a pad and pen with you to record prices and options. Things you may want to take note of are:
â€¢ External Size
â€¢ Internal Size
â€¢ Location of drain plug if included
â€¢ Seal of the door/lid
â€¢ Guides for internal dividers/shelving
â€¢ Non-standard internal shape
â€¢ Total internal volume
â€¢ Presence of new plastic smell
â€¢ Manufacturer catalog/stock code
After you do you comparison shopping, pull the trigger. Keep in mind that fall and winter months there are great deals on coolers. Also, don’t forget to look around on the internet if you are having a hard time finding the right one.
Removing any odors (plastic, etc) from Cooler
Once you get the cooler, you have to prep the box for cigars. To do this, pour Â¼ cup un-scented bleach into the cooler and then fill it with water. Let the cooler stand over night. Dump the water out in the morning, and let the cooler sit in the sun all day while you are at work. When you get home, bring the cooler inside. Pour half a box of baking soda into a dish and place inside the cooler. The next morning, open the cooler and check for any lingering plastic smell. Once it is smell free, you are on to the next step.
Preparing your cooler for use as a Humidor
Now you are ready to prep your cooler. You’ll want to decide on the placement of you hygrometer and humidifiers. I suggest placing the hygrometer on the center of the door for convenience. Then add any shelving you may want. I suggest a thin flat humidifier in at least two equally divided places. Preferably four as the thin humidifiers do not hold much. There are two key elements to remember about humidifiers, surface area and volume. In layman terms, the greater the surface area, the faster the humidifier can react to changes in humidity. While volume relates to how often your humidifier has to be dried out or recharged.
You may also want to line your Cooli’dor with Cedar wood. You can either attach pieces of an old cigar box (check with your local tobacconist for free boxes). Simply line the siding or shelves with some Cedar; this will all your cigars to age nicely.
There are three viable choices for humidification; silica beads, wet oasis foam, and an active humidifier. Since people who opt for Cooli’dor’s usually do so because it is an inexpensive storage option, I am not going to cover active humidification. These units are generally over $175 each, require a power connection, and offer little in terms of humidity removal. Silica beads are a great option as they require less maintenance than wet oasis foam. On the other hand, wet foam will hold more moisture, which is a good choice for those who live in a very dry climate.
Setting the environment (humidity level):
Once everything is mounted in the Cooli’dor, go ahead and close it up and place it in its home. Check regularly, your safe zone is 60%-65% RH. Once you reach this zone, go ahead and put your cigars into your Cooli’dor. You will have to keep an eye on the cooler for a while as your cooler fluctuates in RH. I have found that when I need to add or remove humidity, the best way is to not directly manipulate the humidifier. Instead, the introduction of a catalyst is often the best option.
For instance, if the RH in the cooler gets below my desired level, I will add a damp sponge until the RH increases to the desired point. If the RH climbs too high, I will add dried cedar blocks until the RH is at an acceptable level. Cedar blocks can be obtained from many cigar boxes. You dry the blocks by warming up an oven to 200F, then adding the blocks for 5 minutes. Place in the freezer until cool to the touch, then place in the cooler until the RH reaches the desired point.
If you are experiencing wide swings in RH, perhaps there is too much empty space in your cooler. You should strive to keep your cooler half full at all times. If your cooler is going to be less than half full, it would be wise to add items to decrease empty volume. You can do this by adding empty cedar cigar boxes.
While this is not an exhaustive source for how to maintain a Cooli’dor, it will give you enough information to build one from scratch. A Cooli’dor can be as elaborate, or as simple as one desires. As time goes by, you will find how to maintain a democratic way of keeping a stable environment for your cigars.
Information courtesy of CigarPass
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