For years there has been a lot of misinformation and company propaganda about the differences between using disposable salt packs vs the Humidity Bead System®, so hopefully this post will help serve to make more fair comparison.
First, both of these methods are 2-way systems, meaning they emit moisture and absorb moisture as needed. The relative humidity will never go above or below a predetermined RH (relative humidity) level.
Second, both of these systems use a combination of salts and/or silica.
Third, the purpose of both methods is to maintain essential oil levels for cigar storage (or THC in regards to herbal medicine) and to keep the cigars and herbal medicines from becoming too dry, which ultimately determines flavor and combustion.
Salt packs, like those made by Boveda®, come in different sizes and humidity ranges with the most popular for cigar storage being 69% RH and 62% RH for herbal medicines.
After The Werc Shop conducted a brief study on relative humidity and its effects on potency of herbal medicines, they concluded that after 5 months of storage, the THC levels remained stable.
The life-span of these salt packs, however, are roughly 2 months before they dry out if you’re regularly opening the container several times per week. The packs need to work harder to maintain 62% RH (relative humidity) whenever they are exposed to air (ambient humidity).
Another concern that people have for using salt packs is their environmental impact since the product is a one time use product that continually gets thrown into our landfills.
If the "razor blade model" of buying a new humidification device every month or two is okay with you, then spending $3-$4ea on a each pack (your humidor size may require multiple packs to sufficient regulate the relative humidity in it) then is no big deal.
But like any razor blade customer knows, over the long-term, the costs can add up.
The patented Humidity Bead System® is an alternative to the razor blade model.
The Humidity Bead System® only requires rehydrating with distilled or tap water about once a month. This system is made with medical grade silica and engineered with a patented micropore system for excess moisture absorption, which is impregnated with a salt based formula for precise humidity control.
Compared to salt packs, the cost-savings of this product can be recognized within a year. Since Humidity Bead System® lasts 3-5 years on average and the cost for the most popular size, medium, is $34.99, the savings grow even more over multiple years.
Just like the salt packs, these Humidity Bead System® maintains a constant relative humidity level and come in increments of 40%, 50%, 60%, 65% and 70% RH levels (more suitable levels for the range in which cigars and herbal medicines are stored).
The #1 cause of improper burn and draw is over humidification. Proper humidification virtually eliminates improper burn, draw and provides for much more complex and subtle flavors if aging.
The 65% or 70% RH leves are designed for cigar storage without any risk of mold and will help preserve the essential oils which are essential to aging as well as providing the perfect moisture level for proper draw and burn. The 60% or 65% RH leves are perfect for herbal medicine storage.
In summary, salt packs are great for smaller containers and can be a good short-term strategy to keep cigars and herbal medecines fresh whereas the Humidity Bead System® is more sustainable and cost-effective for the longer-term.