Humidity Beads 101

Smoke=FireSmoke=Fire Posts: 692 ✭✭
I looked for this post a while back with no luck, but today stumbled upon it once again. Rather than post the link which may breal over time, I copied it in its entirety. This was wrote by the gentleman who sells one particular brand of product, but is a great place to start for folks looking at beads for the first time, and wondering how much they need, as well as care and maintenance :) .

Viper13902-19-2005, 09:12 PM I have noticed recently that there seems to be a lot of questions about humidification beads. Some of the questions are repeated when new folks join this fine place. I was prompted by a fine BOTL, steamnjn23, to write up some information about the use, care and feeding of humidification beads so here goes.

Let’s start with the basics.

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%. Opinions differ as to what is the “best” RH for cigars but most BOTLs seem to prefer 65% and that is my experience as well.

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. The manufacturer I purchase the beads I sell also supplies places such as the Smithsonian and The National Archives.

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.

You will notice that every time I mention the fluid that is added to the beads I will state “distilled water”. This 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.

The question I get asked the most is, “How much do I need for my ______?”

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 humi (so a 100 count would need 2 ounces, 150 count 3 ounces etc.)
For our metric friends: Each pound of beads will condition 141,584.233 cubic centimeters.

Calculating the cubic area of your humi:
Measure the depth, width and height of you humi (example is 24” depth, 36” wide and 48” height)
Multiply the three; 24x36x48=41472 cubic inches
Divide 41472 by 1728 (number 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 humi.

Remember that these calculations and quantities are the minumum 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.

Another question that keeps coming up is; “How do I 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.

The method I use and prefer is using a spray bottle. I purchased an inexpensive spray bottle at the grocery store and filled it with distilled water. When the beads need water I just spray them until they have absorbed enough distilled water. This method will work well if you have the beads in a bag or dish.

You can just pour distilled water on the beads and pour off the excess. A lot of folks do it this way but the beads can fracture when it is done this way. 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.

A method developed by a BOTL at Cigar Utopia is very easy. Place a paper towel that has been wet down with distilled water on the beads. They will soak up the moisture and re-charge.

Another question is; If my beads are going white, should I add distilled water until they are all clear?

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 humi.

Another question is; “What do I put the beads in?”

A great variety of containers are possible. You can use 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 (be careful stealing them from your wife or significant other), the aluminum cases I sell to contain the beads (replaces 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.

Lastly we will deal with; “How can I tell when the beads need water?”

This is very easy. 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.

As I think of other things or as questions rise I will edit this post and add that information. I hope this helps. One thing I do want to make clear is that I am still happy to answer any questions that you may have. This post is in no way meant to keep you from asking me.
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Comments

  • madurofanmadurofan Posts: 6,152
    Fine you win. I just ordered two 2 ounce tubes of black cap hertfelt beads :). LOL
  • ScramblerScrambler Posts: 746 ✭✭
    I was struggling to keep my Rh down, with the ambient humidity here in New Orleans, so I ordered up 1/2 lb of 65% beads and a few empty tubes. They arrived like the next business day, so I filled up the tubes and placed them in the humidor, then just put the open bag with the remaining beads in my temporary coolerdor. Hopefully these do the trick.

    Since my humidity was a little high, and there is plenty of moisutre in the air outside my humis, I didn't bother to charge them, I figure they can just absorb the water they need from whats already in the air.
  • urbinourbino Posts: 4,517
    Let us know how that goes, Scrambler. We have similar humidity (though not quite as bad) here in Memphis, and I've got some beads coming. I'll be interested in learning from your experience.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    heck im up in norther ohio and the humidity has been bad enough that i DEcharged my beads.

    i took them out of the humidor and took a hair dryer on low to em. after about 5 min or so about 90% of them were white. I put them back in the humi. the RH is now 65% again. (it had jumped to 73%)
  • urbinourbino Posts: 4,517
    It seems like the summer got off to a roaring start in a lot of places this year.
  • j0z3rj0z3r Posts: 9,403
    urbino:
    It seems like the summer got off to a roaring start in a lot of places this year.
    You can say that again, 105 yesterday, 107 today. At least I don't have the humidity to contend with like some of you guys, its all dry heat out here for the most part.
  • ScramblerScrambler Posts: 746 ✭✭
    When I put the beads in on Monday, my hygrometers were reading 74-76 (adjusted for deviation based on salt test). When I got home from work tonight, I checked and everything is down in the 70-72 range. So far, I'm pretty happy. If it settles anywhere in the 66-70 range, I'll be thrilled.
  • madurofanmadurofan Posts: 6,152
    I stuck my uncharged 70% 2 ounce tube in my humidor with my cigar oasis and so far it seems to be maintaining a nice 71%.
  • MarkbbMarkbb Posts: 196
    Yehp I use beads in my humi. and my tupperdors and they pretty much take care of themselves...
  • Raziel66Raziel66 Posts: 16
    Alright, I went ahead and ordered a couple of tubes. This thread sold me...
  • j0z3rj0z3r Posts: 9,403
    My humidor requires a little bit of care, but in my overflow gladware-dors the beads hold down the fort quite nicely. And if that weren't enough, I noticed on one cigar the other day that it had a speck of bloom on it. Probably just coincidence, but if the beads help maintain an environment in which the cigar will age better, then so much the better.
  • Big DeanBig Dean Posts: 120
    I have a quick question Smoke. If I'm going to use these beads, do I even need to use my humidifier(just the standard one with like green foam)?
  • urbinourbino Posts: 4,517
    Basically, Dean, you don't. The beads will do the job just fine on their own, and the green foam is more trouble than it's worth.
  • zoom6zoomzoom6zoom Posts: 1,214
    My pound of RH65's arrived yesterday.
  • rmccloudrmccloud Posts: 160 ✭✭
    You will not be disappointed. I have beads in both of my humidors and love them.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    rmccloud:
    You will not be disappointed. I have beads in both of my humidors and love them.
    ive had em in all 3 and i love them. never an issue
  • madurofanmadurofan Posts: 6,152
    I'm trying the beads again for the second time and I'm having a better experience this time than I did the first time. However I still would not recommend using the beads by themselves the are unbelievably slow at bring humidity back up after you open the humi. They also have issues maintaining a consistent RH in my humidor.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    hmmm i have not had a problem with that. what are the specs on the humi(s) that has the issue? (how big? how does it open? how long do you leave it open when you do open it? how many cigars are in there? how many beads do you have in there? )
  • urbinourbino Posts: 4,517
    I'm having a problem with them, too, maddy. For the past 2-3 weeks, I've had a couple ounces of 65% beads in a 120-ct. humi that's very rarely opened. It's read 70-72% the whole time, using a calibrated digital hygro. That's higher than I like -- my main humi is set at 67% -- but it's within reason, so I haven't gotten all that bent out of shape about it.

    It is, nonetheless, disappointing. The only thing I can think of is maybe they sent me 70% beads that were mislabeled. OTOH, I've got some of the same beads in my main humi, with the Oasis, to help keep things on an even keel, and all 3 hygro's in there read very consistently between 66% and 67.5%.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    Ubi,
    try decharging your beads a bit. the summer humidity could be causing this problem. I had the same issue about a month ago. I decharged the beads untill about 90% of them were white. now im at 65-66% ...without ever charging them again.
  • madurofanmadurofan Posts: 6,152
    kuzi16:
    Ubi,
    try decharging your beads a bit. the summer humidity could be causing this problem. I had the same issue about a month ago. I decharged the beads untill about 90% of them were white. now im at 65-66% ...without ever charging them again.
    Thats just too much work for me. I use the oasis and beads in my big tupperdor and she maintains 67-70% right where I want to be. The humi in question is a 100 count that passes the hear it seal when you drop it test and the dollar bill test and back before when the Oasis was in it, it always maintained dead on 70%. About 2/3 full, 2 ounces of beads. Usually open it daily for just long enough to get a stick.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    too much work? hmmm... if you pull out the blow dryer then yes it is.

    i just set mine in front of the vent while the AC was on for about 10 minutes.
  • madurofanmadurofan Posts: 6,152
    The fact that that even needed to be done is too much work! the point behind beads was to be close to maintainence free instead I'm checking my humi everyday because of them, I worried less when I had the Xikar jar in there.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    i would check my RH no matter what humidification device i had in there so i guess thats kind of a moot point for me. I still think people worry too much in general when it comes to RH. yes i have 65% rh beads and thats where i like em but, in theory anywhere between 72% and 55% (yes 55%) wont cause any real problems to most cigars.



    side note

    CA had one of their reviews of some rare smokes and the guy actually said that at some point in its life the cigar had been slightly over humidified. how exactly would you be able to taste that? i could see if it was over RH at that moment and had burn issues but "at some point in its life..." seriously? WTF?!?
  • urbinourbino Posts: 4,517
    Probably it had grace notes of fossilized aquatic life.
  • kaspera79kaspera79 Posts: 7,259 ✭✭✭
    kuzi16:
    i would check my RH no matter what humidification device i had in there so i guess thats kind of a moot point for me. I still think people worry too much in general when it comes to RH. yes i have 65% rh beads and thats where i like em but, in theory anywhere between 72% and 55% (yes 55%) wont cause any real problems to most cigars.



    side note

    CA had one of their reviews of some rare smokes and the guy actually said that at some point in its life the cigar had been slightly over humidified. how exactly would you be able to taste that? i could see if it was over RH at that moment and had burn issues but "at some point in its life..." seriously? WTF?!?
    At what point would overhumidifacation cause the cigar to start unwrapping or swelling. 80 percent 85 ? And what length of time could a cigar withstand these conditions.. It would seems cigars could recover somewhat from under humidified conditions unless they crack, and then that would be an obvious sign. I guess the cigar tasted or smelled ( more likely ) like mold..
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    kaspera79:
    kuzi16:
    i would check my RH no matter what humidification device i had in there so i guess thats kind of a moot point for me. I still think people worry too much in general when it comes to RH. yes i have 65% rh beads and thats where i like em but, in theory anywhere between 72% and 55% (yes 55%) wont cause any real problems to most cigars.



    side note

    CA had one of their reviews of some rare smokes and the guy actually said that at some point in its life the cigar had been slightly over humidified. how exactly would you be able to taste that? i could see if it was over RH at that moment and had burn issues but "at some point in its life..." seriously? WTF?!?
    At what point would overhumidifacation cause the cigar to start unwrapping or swelling. 80 percent 85 ? And what length of time could a cigar withstand these conditions.. It would seems cigars could recover somewhat from under humidified conditions unless they crack, and then that would be an obvious sign. I guess the cigar tasted or smelled ( more likely ) like mold..
    the damn thing got something like a 97 or a 98. if there were "hints of mold" it wouldnt rate that high.





    ...unless it was: "hints of shitaki mushroom grown in southern china during an especially rainy season ..."
  • madurofanmadurofan Posts: 6,152
    Once again CA makes you go, WTF! The only way you could tell it had been over humidified was if it had stains left from mold spots but why the hell wouldn't they just say that.
  • madurofanmadurofan Posts: 6,152
    kuzi16:
    i would check my RH no matter what humidification device i had in there so i guess thats kind of a moot point for me. I still think people worry too much in general when it comes to RH. yes i have 65% rh beads and thats where i like em but, in theory anywhere between 72% and 55% (yes 55%) wont cause any real problems to most cigars.
    Not to argue here but I was always told 60-75 does no damage.



    A different side note. I could leave my cigars sitting out on my counter right now. I left a hygrometer sitting on the counter overnight last night by accident and this morning she read 69* / 69% how about that sh*t. Must be my lucky number. My house is apparently a freaking rainforest. 69%! Needless to say that hygro is being salt tested as we speak.
  • rmccloudrmccloud Posts: 160 ✭✭
    With a lucky number like that, you should let the wife know about it. Could be a fun time at the Maduro house tonight.
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