One of the most common questions I get asked about cigars is how to store them in your humidor—with the cellophane, or without it?
I usually go for unwrapped. It’s part of my purist nature. I just find it incredibly pleasing to open my humidor and find neatly-packed cigars in their bare wrappers. But you may ask—if storing your stogies bare is the best option, why do manufacturers wrap them in cellophane at all? As usual, there are pros and cons to each side—and don’t forget about myth, too.
Protection is the most important factor to consider when storing your cigars. Cellophane is a plus because it protects your cigars from not only yourself, but from other cigars as well. Stogies secrete oils that could mix with other cigars if you don’t store them properly, which might alter the traits of your cigars. This may be a good idea if you have the same brand of cigars all stored in the same humidor, but when you place different cigars in the same humidor, this is usually not beneficial.
The cellophane also protects against physical damage. When handling cigars that are bare, you absorb some of the oils from the wrapper of the cigar. Do this too often and you may damage the wrapper by removing too much of the cigar’s natural oils. Cellophane also protects your stogies when you carry them around (in a pocket, briefcase, coat, etc). It helps keep the wrapper from tearing due to wear-and-tear and friction.
The biggest myth about cellophane is that it does not allow for proper humidification of cigars. Cellophane is porous, so the humidity in your humidor can permeate your stogies and keep them in a desired microenvironment. Worried about your sticks not getting enough air? Cellophane’s permeability also allows for adequate levels of air contact.
With all of that said, let’s move on to the reasons why it may be beneficial to remove the cellophane. There are just as many good reasons to store your stogies au-natural as there are good reasons for storing them in the cellophane.
Remember: if you are storing one specific type of cigar in your humidor, it could be beneficial to remove the cellophane. Doing so lets the oils from all the cigars in the group to mix together, equalizing the flavor profile for each cigar in the bunch.
Thinking about aging your stogies? Take off that cellophane. Cellophane, while porous, restricts the air levels that can reach the cigar. Leaving it on can inhibit the aging process by nearly 50%.
Cellophane works against you when you want to keep the optimum microclimate for your stogies. In the regulation process, stogies transmit and absorb humidity; this process is slowed by cellophane. Why? Cellophane is quite like a screen door—it allows for air flow, but at much lower levels than what would be registered if unwrapped.
A few little tips:
If you unwrap a cigar and toss out the cellophane but later find yourself wanting to bring a few sticks to the course, put them in individual plastic sandwich baggies for travel (don’t store them in your humidor this way though!).
Some also suggest leaving the wrapper on while storing and then removing it just a week or two before you plan on smoking that cigar. It is said to give both benefits of storing nude and wrapped.
That about covers it for the pros and cons to cellophane wrappers. I hope this helped!
Last comment: the best way to figure which option to chose is to think about what you want to do with your stogies!