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Why Use a Salt Test?

Tobacco growers have to keep a close eye on the humidor, which helps to create the perfect environment for tobacco leaves. Without humidity, tobacco leaves become coarse and too tough to create the formidable aromas, tastes and textures that cigar aficionados love so much. In order to make sure that you have the perfect environment, you should own a hygrometer. However, you have to know whether your hygrometer is reading the humidity accurately enough to produce the perfect environment. The key to this is making sure that your humidity levels are showing accurately on your hygrometer. There's a simple trick to this that will allow you to calibrate and check your hygrometer during the process.

1. Do A Towel Test

Moisten a towel so that it's damp but not soaked. Think of the dampness of a hot towel wrap. Then, place it around the hygrometer for 30 to 45 minutes. You want to make sure that the hygrometer is fully wrapped. Unwrap the hygrometer and check the humidity level very quickly. With a perfectly calibrated hygrometer, it should read 100 percent humidity. However, most are not calibrated and usually will show only 80 to 90 percent humidity. Now, set your hygrometer to 75 percent after the test if you want it to have a better calibration. This level is the prime humidity that tobacco leaves require for the best environment.

2) Try the Salt Test

Salt and water can create a perfect equilibrium for 75 percent humidity. The combination of NaCl and H2O provides the optimum method to calibrate a hygrometer. Just take a Ziploc bag, screw-on beer bottle cap, small amount of table salt and water.

- Put the salt in the bottle cap.
- Moisten the salt with water. You don't want to moisten too much. Just dampen and allow the salt to soak in the water slowly.
- Place the hygrometer and bottle cap of moistened salt in the Ziploc bag. Seal it off tightly so that no air can escape while the test is conducted.
- Leave the Ziploc bag for eight hours.

After eight hours, the humidity in the bag will be 75 percent. You can then compare this to your hygrometer. It should also read 75 percent, and if it doesn't, then you'll know by what point exactly that the percentage is off. Note the amount and direction that the meter shows and then add or subtract this amount when reading the hygrometer. If your hygrometer has a control feature to adjust, you can simply set it to 75 percent right after the test.

Be sure to test your hygrometer every six months so that you maintain an accurate amount of humidity. Remember, this is one of the most important aspects of tobacco harvesting and can mean the success or failure of your entire crop.