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A Coolidor Primer

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1. Cooler Size and Characteristics: Buy a large enough cooler that will hold more than you think you will need. An example, a 50 quart cooler without tying too hard should hold about 15 average size boxes of cigars. If you think you need to store 10-12 average boxes, think 48 qt or larger. DO NOT go smaller or you will simply end up buying more coolers. You can always buy more cigars to fill the cooler up if you want. Going for more expensive 5-7 day coolers made for food storage I believe to be overkill for our purpose of buying as are the metal lined outsides ones. Unless you need to add a cooling agent or peltier device to lower the inside temperature of the cooler you should not consider buying these more expensive models. Go for something that is both practical and to lesser extent cosmetically pleasing to the place you plan on keeping it. Nothing like choosing a lime green or yellow cooler for an all dark blue room.

2. The Seal: Before buying the cooler you want, make sure the lid and drain plug will seal tight. Most coolers seal well these days, but you never know when the plastic molding won't seal well together or the hinges are out of line. You can accomplish this with a standard half or whole sheet of 8.5x11 copier paper. Simply open the lid, put half the paper inside the cooler and keep enough paper outside so when you close the lid all the way down you should not be able to pull the piece of paper out easily or pull out at all. I would check at least 1 place on all four sides of the cooler making sure the pull is consistent and even. Check more than one place per side if you get a larger cooler.

3. Cooler Preparation: Before putting any cigars inside, you need to wash the insides of the cooler well. Use mild dish washing soap and water with a rag or non abrasive type scrubber. Another method is water and bleach mixed about a 5-1 ratio. Be careful not to use much bleach as it can be difficult to remove. Follow the bleach method with the mild soap and water method to remove and any remaining smells and the residual bleach. Always air dry while keeping the lid open after the cleanings. More than likely this will need to be done more than once to remove the plastic smells. You don't want your cigars to smell or taste like plastic do you? This can take some time, even about a week to get the plastic smell out. Be patient and do not rush this step. I repeat, do not rush this critical step. This goes for any of the plastic trays or items you may keep as storage that come with the cooler as well. If your going to use Tupperware or some other items like this for smaller cigar storage units, same thing goes. You can also prepare pieces of Spanish Cedar to line the bottom and sides of the cooler if you wish. This will give the cooler a nice cedar aroma and appearance as well as help regulate RH (Relative Humidity). No need to overdue with the liner as boxes and singles trays should provide a sufficient amount of cedar.

4. Adding the cigars: Once the cooler is cleaned and free of smells you can add your cigars. If you do not have enough cigars to take up a lot of space (like maybe 40-50% of the space), add empty cigar boxes or pieces of Spanish Cedar until you do. If you have none, ask and you shall usually receive some help. This will help keep the RH% easier to balance and avoid RH bounce when you open the box to look at what you have (which is all the time when you get one, trust me). Do not use regular cedar as this is know as aromatic cedar. This is many, many, many times more cedar smelling than Spanish Cedar and will make all your cigars smell like nothing but cedar in a really bad way.

5. Adding/Removing RH: Most likely you do not need an active humidity system like an Cigar Oasis or Set & Forget or Accumonitor. They provide too much RH for a smaller environment and can be expensive relative to a cooler setup. Best and easiest way, go for humidification beads found at www.heartfeltindustries.com. They are available at RH pre set at 60%, 65%, or 70%. Just use distilled water to about 3/4 of the beads turn clear and your done until they need more water next time. The site recommends 1/3 lb. of beads for a 50 qt. size cooler. I suggest going for more than you need. Go for a pound unless your getting a very small cooler. It is cheaper buying them by the pound and you can just split the pound into even amounts inside the cooler for better RH balance and distribution (or keep for your next cooler). You can put the beads in clean panty hose, sock bird feeders, or place them in an open plastic container. The more surface area you provide, the better the beads will work. The beads both absorb and desorb RH moisture. Similar to beads, some use the kitty litter by ExquisiCat, only use the Pearl Fresh unscented kind. They are similar to beads and hold very close to 66-68% RH. They are by far cheaper pound for pound. BUT are sold in 7 pound containers, may not be preset for RH, are not clean as beads, they tend to break apart easier. You can also use the floral foam and 50/50 mix of propylene glycol & distilled water to achieve approx. 70% RH as well. Very easy to use, very clean, but does not allow for lower 60% or 65% RH as most prefer the lower RH for better smoking. The placement of whatever device you choose should generally be placed on the lowest point of the cooler. RH will rise which is contrary to popular believe. If you have the cooler turned on it's end and are using beads, you can start with beads on the bottom and add some in the middle or top. I can not speak of other methods as the above I am familiar with and are proven to work.

5. RH and Temperature reading: RH issues, get yourself a decent digital hygrometer to check how the RH% is doing. Forget about analog ones for the most part as they are not accurate enough. Make sure the hygro is reading correctly. Best way to do this is getting a Boveda - One Step Calibration Kit. If you get an adjustable hygro, you can calibrate to read perfectly with this kit. If you can not manually adjust your hydro, you will know if your hydro reads light or heavy and make necessary adjustments to maintain the level of RH you prefer.

Temp issues, most digital hygros come with a temperature gauge as well. The goal here is 70 degrees or lower is better to prevent cigar beetles from hatching and possibly eating your fine cigars. Place your cooler in the coolest room it will be kept in. A basement is usually the best place in a house. Also try interior rooms away from sunlight and windows to avoid the sun heating the cooler up. Try keeping in an area that does not fluctuate much in temperature. Some folks use a peltier device as used in the thermoelectric wine cooler. I find this difficult for most folks to understand and use properly. If used properly will be a low cost way to make a cooler, colder.

6. Air circulation: You should also consider getting an Oust fan found in most convenience and grocery stores. These are small fans that run on a D size battery that cost about $8.00 new, battery included. Just make sure you do not add the scented part when you first get this (unless you like your cigars to smell like spring rain or some floral flavors). For a 50 quart size or smaller cooler one fan should work fine. For anything larger two or more may be required. The Oust fan is very effective using 5 minute on and 15 minute off cycles. The Oust fan is very easy to use and probably the cheapest in my opinion. Many folks use a small CPU computer fan. Usually a cord is run through the drain hole, hard wired to the fan and then just plug the drain hole back up to be air tight. Just make sure not to blow away the cigars using a CPU fan, you only need to gently stir the air every so often to balance out the RH and lesser extent the temperature. A digital on/off timer can be bought for $20-30 that offers preset on and off times to control the CPU fan. If you use nothing for circulation, open the lid about once a week to air the cooler out.

7. Miscellaneous thoughts: Do not ever store flavored/infused cigars with regular cigars. The flavors will mingle with the regular ones. It is ok to mix various wrappers or various countries of origin cigars together unless your storing for long term storage, like 5 or more years. Best way to tell how the cooler is doing is how the cigars are smoking. A feel test also works well. The sticks should be slightly spongy to the touch and bounce back when released with a slight crackle. If there too dry, they will crack open when squeezed and smoke very hot/harsh. If there too wet, the feet will be crack open and have bad burn patterns, usually one side will burn much slower than the others. Don't worry about the cooler loaded with cigars smelling like a barnyard, that is a true sign your doing things right. If you add a bunch of new loose cigars or full boxes, do not be surprised the RH rises. Most vendors keep their cigars at higher RH levels to prevent them from drying out, especially those that do a lot of shipping. Just open to air out the cooler more often till the RH level drops back to your comfort zone.

Have fun with the cooler set up and happy smoking my brothers.
 
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I had just spent the last three hours plus thinking of this post from another request for one and felt a waste if not posted by itself. I see Jason's sticky post on humidor primer, but feel this is somewhat different and I posted additional things that I experienced along the way to a cooler setup. Cheers!
 
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I found a hint from someone on removing the smell. First wash the cooler out with a solotion of water with a little bit of bleach in it. Not a whole lot, and rinse it out good. Then let it sit out open in the sun for a day. Give it another wash incase bugs or whatever got in it. Make sure its dry of course, and then you are set. Once you load it up with cigars it will start smellin lovely.
 

CWS

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Excellet post. Wish I had this five months ago. Of course I wish I had a credit card still not tapped.:cryloud:
 
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Thanks guys, I cleaned things up a bit as well. Jason, thanks for giving me some pointers to look at the post another day. Thanks for the bleach cleaning method Josh. I kept out of my original post cause it gets messy, but decided to put in there anyway cause it does work well. So posted what I did for mine.
 

Séamas

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This tutorial has really helped me out. Thanks Steve.

Maybe someone should stick it?
 
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RX2010

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I just bought a 42qt cooler tonight, this thread is just what the doctor ordered


I have a 1/2 lb of beads, that should be good eh?
 

BradMc

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If u do every thing in Headbangers note. (I used the same info setting up mine) I put some wood shelves in mine and use a lil over 1/2 lb and mine is right on at 65-68, .....I keep mine down in the basement so the temp is pretty steady......Good luck bro
 
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RX2010

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it's a 48 qt Igloo "cube"

I'm getting the washing and everything started today
 

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I dearly love my 100 quart but now I'm in the market for a second. Your 50 will be full in no time.:laugh: :laugh:
 
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RX2010

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well, I don't think it will be on account of a lack of funds, however I'd love to have that problem (of it filling)

I need to give it another wash tonight, then I'm gonna start priming it tomorrow, Pharmboy gave me a few empty cedar boxes so I can move some singles in there for long term storage

I plan to have it ready to go by week's end, when my cigarbid winnings arrive.

although they may not get here until monday now
 
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