"Winedors" - Not for the faint of heart

What is a "Wineador" (or Wine-A-Dor)?

Winedors are wine chillers that aficionados have attempted over the years to convert for cigar and herbal medicine storage.

Some have had success while others have had nothing but heart ache.

If you are even remotely impatient, then it's probably best to put the thought of a winedor out of your mind and stick to a tradional humidor or "coolerdor".

Or, if money is no object, take a look at the exquisite Liebherr XS-200. It's wonderful.

If money is a consideration, patience is more than key here.

There are no "hard and fast" rules to setting up a wine chiller to use as a humidor and setting one up can be extremely frustrating.

Your local environmental conditions (ie ambient humidity and temperature) may require a little trial and error.

The Basics

When choosing a wine chiller to use for cigar or herbal medicine storage, thermoelectric cooling units (instead of condensor based cooling units) are definitely the way to go.

While not perfect, the inherit problem with using wine chillers as humidors is that are prone to wide RH swings throughout the day, this is a little less of an issue with thermoelectric units but it still can cause large RH swings.

Once you've taken the plunge and purchased your wine chiller, you need a plan of attack for setting it up.

The first thing I would do is to clean the inside of the wine chiller with water and baking soda. Once thoroughly cleaned, leave the door open and the chiller in the sun for a day. You may need to repeat this process 2-3 times.

This will help remove any of gassing from the new plastic inside the wine chiller.

Because of the dry effect of the cooling feature, you would need 2-3x the minimum requirement of the Humidity Bead System humidifiers over traditional humidors.

With the cooling feature turned off, add the Spanish cedar trays and leave a large bowl of water (can be tap water) and leave the door closed for 10-14 days.

Wiping humidors or trays down with water will not provide the adequate amount of moisture and can ruin a humidor's seal and warp the trays. This method ensures that they have absorbed their capacity of moisture and does it in manner that prevents warping.

Since wine chillers aren't really constructed to be used as humidors, you typically will need 2-3 times the minimum amount of HBS humidifiers in order to combat the inefficiency of the materials at regulating RH (ie plastic instead of Spanish cedar) as well as the humidity depleting dry air from the chilled air.

Adding Spanish cedar boxes (or trays) to store your cigars or herbal medicine instead will help as well. The boxes / trays will aid as a barrier from the RH swings that reduce the actual moisture content of the cigars and help to remain fairly constant during the RH swings caused by the chiller.

Next I suggest calibrating 2-3 digital hygrometers.

How to Test and Calibrate a Hygrometer: 1. Fill a milk bottle cap or other small container with salt, and add a few drops of distilled water - NOT enough to dissolve the salt, just enough to moisten it. You want the slurry to be thick and pasty. 2. Put the cap inside of an air tight zip lock or plastic container along with your hygrometer. Then seal the bag or container (Tupperware works well). 3. Wait 12 hours, then check the reading on your hygrometer without opening the bag or container (or quickly open the container and check if the container is not clear). If the reading is 75%, then your hygrometer is accurate and no adjustment is required. If the reading is not precisely 75%, then adjust the hygrometer to 75% by turning the screw or dial on the back. This must be done immediately after removing from the bag or container, before room conditions cause the reading to change. If there is no screw (or dial) to recalibrate your hygrometer, then you will just have to remember to add or subtract the difference between the test reading and 75%, in order to determine the actual humidity level inside of your humidor. For example, if your hygrometer test reading was 80%, then subtract 5% from the readings you get inside of your humidor, to determine the actual levels of humidity (e.g. a reading of 70% inside your humidor equals an actual humidity level of 65%).

Place a digital hygrometer at the bottom level, mid level and top level of the wine chiller (in the center of each level is recommended).

Once your wine chiller is properly cleaned, your trays or boxes are properly seasoned and your hygrometers are properly calibrated. You can start adding the HBS Humidifiers.

First hydrate the HBS humidifiers so that approximately 70% of the RH Beads are wet.

Again, with the cooling feature turned off, add the HBS Humidifiers to the wine chiller and leave the door closed.

After a approximately 3-5 day, the RH should stabilize (depending on your ambient RH). Once the RH was stabilized, we slowly start adding empty cigar boxes over the next 4-5 days.

Now we can get to turning on the cooling feature of the wine chiller.

Set the temp to 68-70 degrees.

Again, let the RH stabilize over 3-5 days and take periodic readings of the RH levels throughout the wine chiller.

Since humid air is lighter than non-humid air, you may find that the RH may be higher at the top of the chiller than at the bottom.

If using Spanish cedar boxes, the RH measured outside of the boxes should have the typical RH fluctuations associated with using a wine chiller but the RH swings inside the boxes should be minimal. This would clearly indicate that the RH swings in the air during the cooling period have a minimal affect on the moisture content of the cigars or herbal medicine stored in boxes.

The addition of a Johnson temperature controller to keep the compressor from turning on as often in order to maintain a temperature between 60-70 degrees (65 avg).

The controller has a probe that goes in the fridge and cuts power off to the wine fridge once the temperature reaches the desired temp. (This one http://www.williamsbrewing.com/CONTROLLER-P762.aspx) You simply plug the wine fridge into the back of the controller plug and run the controller probe through the drain hole of the wine chiller and sealed with the hole with silicone. Adding the cedar trays or boxes and the controller are key for using a wine chiller as a humidor with temperature control.

So, in conclusion, properly cleaning the wine chiller, properly seasoning Spanish cedar trays or boxes, using properly calibrated hygrometers, adding a temperature controller & timer, and using the proper amount of HBS Humidifiers, you should be able to successfully establish a wine chiller aka "wineador" for cigar or herbal medicine storage.

But, if you can't get it established perfectly, don't be surprised. It's not easy.

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