Do Cigars Go Bad? Understanding Shelf Life and Storage

Do Cigars Go Bad? Understanding Shelf Life and Storage

When I went to a cigar shop for the first time, I remember thinking to myself, will these expire? To put it simply, yes, cigars do expire. Proper storage can preserve a cigar's flavor and quality for years, while improper storage can lead to deterioration. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the factors affecting cigar shelf life, signs of spoilage, and best practices for storing your cigars to keep them fresh and enjoyable for as long as possible.

Do Cigars Expire?

Cigars don’t have an expiration date like perishable goods, but they can go bad if not stored correctly. Cigars don't spoil like food does, but they can become dry, brittle, and lose their flavor. Understanding the conditions that affect cigars is crucial to maintaining their quality.

Factors Affecting Cigar Shelf Life

Several factors influence how long a cigar stays fresh, including humidity, temperature, and light exposure. Maintaining optimal conditions is key to preserving your cigars. Let's delve into each of these factors in detail.


Humidity is perhaps the most critical factor in cigar storage. Cigars should be kept at a relative humidity of 65-70%. Too much humidity can cause mold, while too little can dry them out. Using a humidor can help maintain the perfect balance.


Temperature also plays a significant role in cigar preservation. Ideally, cigars should be stored at temperatures between 65-70°F. Extreme temperatures can cause cigars to dry out or become too moist, affecting their burn and flavor.

Light Exposure

Cigars should be kept away from direct sunlight and artificial light. Light exposure can cause the tobacco to overheat and the oils to evaporate, leading to a loss of flavor and aroma. Store cigars in a dark, cool place to maintain their integrity.

Signs of a Bad Cigar

It's essential to recognize when a cigar has gone bad. Common signs include dryness, brittleness, and a musty smell. If a cigar crumbles when you squeeze it gently, it’s likely too dry to smoke. Conversely, if it feels spongy, it may be too moist. A good cigar should be firm when pinched, but have a bit of bounciness to it as well. 

Cigars can also develop mold, so if you see mold within your humidor, it's probably a good call to just toss them out and start over. If you're wondering if the substance on your cigar is mold, just remember that if it can't be brushed off, it's mold. Plume is a common sign of proper aging, but these harmless white crystals can be easily brushed off.

How to Store Cigars Properly

Proper storage is the key to extending the shelf life of your cigars. Using a humidor is the best way to maintain optimal conditions. Ensure your humidor is well-maintained and properly seasoned to keep your cigars in perfect smoking condition.

Using a Humidor

A cigar humidor is designed to regulate humidity and temperature. Choose a humidor with a good seal and a reliable hygrometer. Regularly check the humidity levels and refill the humidification device as needed to keep your cigars fresh. For more information, please see our guide on how to use a humidor.

Alternative Storage Methods

If you don’t have a humidor, you can use alternatives like Tupperware humidors Ziploc bags with a humidification device. These methods can be effective in the short term but may not provide the same level of control as a humidor.


In summary, cigars can go bad if not stored properly, but with the right conditions, they can remain fresh for years. Keep your cigars in a humidor, maintain the right humidity and temperature, and avoid light exposure to enjoy your cigars at their best. Understanding these factors will help you preserve the quality and flavor of your cigars for a long time.

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