I had a bit of a fright last evening, as I was picking a stick to review. I routinely check my stock and rotate my inventory, but hadn’t done so in about 3 days. About a week ago I had installed two new humidifier cases with new gel inside. Prior to that I had used foam blocks and have never had any problem in all my years keeping stock. Well, the gel obviously lets off a LOT more moisture, because the sticks immediately around the cases sprung some MOLD.
The worst sticks were right next to the cases, and there were also some directly below them effected. Obviously there was quite a humid pocket of air right there. I quickly pulled the infected drawers for segregation and closer inspection. Luckily, only one stick had spores at the foot, with 99% of it on the head to about the bands, and some down the shaft. Also luckily, most of the sticks directly below were wrapped in cedar sleeves, which seemed to slow down the spread – hardly any had them growing beyond the band at all. UNfortunately, it was about $200 worth of sticks infected so I quickly wiped them all down, further inspecting them for the spread. Except for the one with growth at the foot I have all the infected and cleaned sticks laying out for the next couple days to make sure no further growth takes place. In my panic I didn’t even think to take pictures of the outbreak, but it was pure white, looking fluffy and cloudy. At first I was tempted to believe it was merely bloom, but no – clearly spores. Don’t let the internet guides that say mold HAS to be a certain color or stain the wrappers fool you. It comes in pure white too and doesn’t leave a mark when removed. I did take shots of the infected foot though, so you can see what I mean. FYI the large white fibers in the picture is not mold, it’s paper towel from wiping it.
I then separately bagged all the other stock, and wiped out the entire humidor and shelves with alcohol to kill any stray spored that may have been on the wood. I let that air out and put the good stock back in. Hopefully after another day or so sitting out I find no further growth on the infected sticks and they too can go back in.
As for the gel, it went to the trash! I just ordered a large tube of 65% beads that will prevent such a pocket of over humidified air from happening again.