There are many ways to store cigars. A cool, dark place with moderate humidity is considered by most cigar experts to be the ideal storage condition for premium handmade cigars.

If you want your cigars to stay fresh for as long as possible, keeping them in their original boxes may not be the best option. However, if you like owning beautiful boxes and don’t mind paying a little extra for packaging, storing in the original box may suit your needs.

Anatomy of a Cigar Box

Cigars come in boxes that are designed specifically for them; unlike wine bottles, they aren’t simply thrown into any old cardboard coffin just to get them from Point A to Point B. There’s a good reason for this – during shipping and storage, boxes provide the ideal protection against degradation and keep cigars from becoming damaged or crushed.

Boxes are typically made of wood – cedar is preferred for its aromatic properties, but other species such as pine and redwood are also used. Solid wood rather than plywood is most common, though some companies will use veneers to cut costs. Paper was once used to line the inside of cigar boxes, but modern manufacturers generally use plastic instead. The box exterior can be plain paper, foil stamped with a company’s logo and branding information (such as “Habanos” or “Joya de Nicaragua”), or embossed and varnished like fine furniture.

Quality Factor

While it may seem counterintuitive to store cigars in something designed for a completely different product, cigar boxes are made to hold up under the weight and pressure of hundreds or thousands of cigars. For this reason alone they make fine humidors – just don’t expect them to retain humidity as well as other options such as Tupperware containers, plastic bags, and old wine boxes.

Style Points

There’s no question that cigar boxes add a little flair to any man cave or home office. However, if you’re looking to impress your buddies with your cigar-smoking style and sophistication, you might want to leave these on the shelf and invest instead in silver and crystal ashtrays and cutters while you’re outfitting your smoking den.

Storage Factor

Boxes are not airtight, and their inherent design makes them difficult to both open and close after they’ve been opened. Unless you’re willing to break the box down into its component parts (which can be done but can be time-consuming depending on how well it’s constructed) – or plan on smoking all your cigars within a few days of buying them – it might be best to consider other options.

If you’re collecting boxes of your favorite smokes as souvenirs, cigar boxes are a lovely choice for storage. However, if you need something compact that will allow you to take advantage of the benefits that humidity control provides over time, choose another option.

Design & Construction

Cigar boxes are made to hold up under the pressure and weight of hundreds or thousands of cigars, which is why they make such good humidors. Because cigar boxes were designed for a completely different purpose than cigar humidors (the latter was developed in the 1960s), it’s not uncommon to find some really beautifully crafted boxes with intricate designs and finishes. Just make sure that there aren’t any obvious signs of leaks or cracks before you buy one since these were never intended to be watertight containers. If you want something better suited for long-term storage, check out our list of recommended home humidors.

Cost Factor

Boxes can be found at almost any cigar shop, so they don’t cost anything to buy. However, if you want to find a really exquisite one that will impress your buddies, you might have to pay a pretty penny for it. Humidors are also available online – check out some of the best cigar humidors on Cigar Inspector’s sister site Best Cigar Prices.

When Should I Take My Cigars Out of Their Box?

While you can leave your cigars in their boxes for short periods of time, storing them inside the box for long periods is not recommended.

Cigar taints are imparted to the cigar by the cedar over time (similarly to how pipes can get a “smoky” flavor if they’re kept in an ashtray that has held cigarettes).

For the best taste, don’t leave your cigars in their boxes longer than necessary.

Cigar Boxes: Not Your Father’s Tupperware

Cigar boxes used to be the containers of choice for transporting and storing cigars.

Unfortunately, the same problems that affected other store-bought storage options such as Tupperware and plastic bags also plagued cigar boxes – they weren’t airtight and didn’t do a great job of retaining humidity.

Today, humidors are preferred by most aficionados because they can precisely control humidity levels – which is especially important for higher quality handmade cigars.

If you’re looking to build your own humidor or just want more information on this subject, check out our cigar humidor basics page.

Cigar Boxes: A Word of Caution

There’s nothing wrong with collecting beautiful cigar boxes as souvenirs or using them to store and transport your cigars.

Cigar boxes are often used as collectibles and contain all sorts of information about the manufacturer, date of manufacture, and country of origin. Some cigar smokers will only buy cigars with a certain type of band or label, and cigar boxes can be a great way to learn about the history of your favorite smokes.

It’s also fine to leave a box open on the coffee table so you and your buddies can admire it during an evening smoke session. But if you’re looking for a place to store your prized collection of expensive smokes where they’ll be protected from temperature extremes and fluctuations, don’t use cigar boxes as humidors.

If you do plan on keeping some of your best cigars laying around in boxes for any length of time, make sure you frequently check them for signs of mold growth and other issues.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for simple but stylish storage containers that won’t hurt your wallet, cigar boxes are an excellent choice. Just be sure to use them only as short-term storage and never as permanent humidors.