The problem i faced with my cigar chiller was how to keep the whole chiller properly humidified. Its a thermoelectric chiller, so that did help a bit (compressor chillers dry out the air a lot faster and aggressively). But, without any humidification, i found that that the humidity hovered around 55RH, much too low for a temperature of 18 degrees Celcius.

There are many ways to skin a cat, but i needed something that could work passively, and still be able to do the job considering the space was quite large (about 20 box capacity). I got the idea for my homemade humidity kit when i was browsing for furniture in Ikea — i saw that the potted plants on sale there used some sort of crystal gel instead of soil. I put 2 and 2 together, and wait-a-minute, this might work for me as well!

So i rushed out to the nearest Ace hardware store, and picked up a few items: a few deep containers to keep the gel, the gel itself (it comes either pre-moistened beads, or in dry form), and a bottle of propylene glycol + distilled water solution (50/50 works best) from the local tobacconist. I stopped by the nearest 7-Eleven on the way home for a bottle of distilled water, and went home to set things up. I had no idea whether it would work at this point, but worth a punt since it only cost a few bucks in materials, so no harm trying.

I soaked the gel for a few hours in the distilled water to get all nice and fluffy, then transferred them to the containers, then poured out the bottle of propylene glycol over them. Let them sit for a few minutes, then chucked them into the cigar chiller. The results?

It took about 36 hours to start working, perhaps it needed to circulate in the air. But things are holding steady now at 64-65RH, exactly where i  think it should be. Can’t really account for the 5RH or so that’s missing (a propylene glycol mix theoretically should keep things at exactly 70RH), but that’s ok, it’s better this way as 70RH is too high in my opinion. The digital hygrometer is perfect, the salt test showed it at 75RH exactly, so i know the missing RH is really missing, but i can’t really account for it. Perhaps its due to the inefficiencies of using garden-grade gels instead of gels designed to control humidity.

In any case, i’m not complaining. It works well, and that’s all that matters.