PDA

View Full Version : Tip On Inexpensive & Extremely Effective (too effective?) Humidor!



coolkayaker1
12-23-2011, 09:04 AM
I have been trying to humidify my ukuleles for a home with winter humidity at 30%.

The uke case and soundhole versions I own from Planet Wave, plus the clay one from Herco. The little sponges for $10-$20 each hold little water, need frequent refills, and may eventually mold my fuzzy cases. They are expensive for what they are (having enough for three ukuleles could be $30-$60 total). They occupy valuable case space, and I must put my ukes in and out of the cases, which can be burdensome.

My room is too large for a whole room humidifier. I’ve tried it and the humidity level changes inconsequentially.

Bringing my ukes into the bathroom each time I take a shower worked, but was a chore.

SOLUTION: Sterilite (or other brand) under-bed clear plastic storage box ($18 at Wal-Mart). The flat ones (approx. 4 feet by 3 feet by only 6 inches high), usually for storing sweater and clothes underneath the bed, sometimes with plastic wheels to push it on the floor. It has a lid included with a nice tight fit. Here's the same one I use, but it's cheapr at Wal-mart:
http://www.amazon.com/Underbed-Plastic-Storage-Container-Clear/dp/B0032CYG62/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1324670787&sr=8-14

Added two .99 cent artificial car wash sponges (8 inches by 4 inches by 2 inches), each in a one gallon Ziplock type bag. I didn’t punch holes in the bag—I just left the end open (unsealed). I just wet them thoroughly and put them next to the ukes (but not touching) in the plastic under-bed box.

I can lay two soprano ukes easily in the box, plus the sponges, and still have room for at least a third ukulele if I wanted (maybe four if I laid they right). Very easy to flip open the lid and grab a uke, or replace one (easier than a case). If molds, replace sponges and Ziplock bags. Cost of two sponges and two bags = $2.50. The $18 Sterilite box should last until well after I’m dead and gone. Total investment to store up to three ukuleles: $20.50 plus tax.

Results: Room remained at 30-35% humidity. Within one night, the humidity in the plastic box ( keep a digital gauge in there) was 71%! It was like a freaking terrarium in there. Concerned for the opposite of dryness (mold, wet rot, warpage, etc.), I vented the top about three inches and will check a reading later, but vented, it was down to 64% in about 15 minutes.

UPDATE: I UPDATED THIS THREAD ON 2/25 WITH PIX ABOVE.

Pukulele Pete
12-23-2011, 09:20 AM
Wow ,......what a great idea.

DougNC
12-23-2011, 10:38 AM
But be careful, please. As I understand it, worse than long periods of time in very low or very high humidity conditions is moving your instrument back and forth between significantly different conditions. Same thing is true about conditions of heat and cold.

If you think about the wood absorbing the humidity (and swelling) then losing that moisture (and shrinking), you can probably imagine the effect the expansion/contraction cycles could have.

When I was into acquiring guitars (solid wood acoustic-not electric), when I had a delivery at this time of year I allowed a full day of acclimation, unboxing in layers with hours in between. I did this just to avoid subjecting the guitar to an extreme jump. I became comfortable with all my instruments being in a ~40% humidity environment during the extreme months, and slightly higher during the more moderate months. Never had a humidity-related problem.

But I am a uke noobie. It may be that being so much smaller, the effects may not be as pronounced as they are with guitars. I just got concerned for you when I read of moving your ukes to and from 60-70+ % humidity and 30%.

Doug

Olarte
12-23-2011, 10:47 AM
Great idea if you have one or two ukes...


I have more than that, so I ended up getting a room humidifier at my local home depot and it's been running great for over a year. Keeps my room at 60% humidity.

It was worth the initial $90 investment, and all my hung instruments and bonsai trees are the better for it.

coolkayaker1
12-26-2011, 05:20 AM
Thanks for the replies. You certainly could be right, DougNC, about the changes in humidity being a factor. Good point. I will probaby take the ukes out only when they are being played, 1-2 hours at most, so putting them back in the humidor will work. But, I'll have to be cautious about leaving them out.

Olarte: I'm glad the humidifier works for you. It does not for me, as stated in my original post. I have considered a whole house professionally installed humidifier with its own dedicated water supply on the furnace--my parents have one--but although it changes the household humidity some (enough that the skins is not as itchy), it does not make a tremendous difference--likely not enough to humidify instruments.

I have two ukes in the case, but 3-4 would fit. And my laminates don;t need the humidification like the solids. IF you have a ton of solid instruments, and a smaller room that works with a $90 humidifier, then you have your solution.

Daysailer
12-26-2011, 06:35 AM
My solution is that my tropical fish room, doubles as my music room.
6 tanks evaporating seem to keep this room above 40%, even when
the rest of the house is 25-30%

coolkayaker1
12-26-2011, 08:41 AM
Good idea, daysailor.

coolkayaker1
01-14-2012, 11:58 AM
I'm still using the system for my two solid body ukes, and I can vent about 1/2 inch (i.e. put the top on 1/2 askew) and the humidity is 55% in there. Ideal. And I haven't added water to the two sponges in over 5 week. Yesssss!

Daysailer
01-14-2012, 04:09 PM
Glad your sterilite system is working. It is a great idea.

You might want to consider rinsing and cleaning the sponges at least every 7-10 days. Molds and Mildews dont needs much time to get started. The last thing you want, besides humidity related cracking, is a mold/mildew to get it's spores inside your instrument and start a smelly colony.

I would rinse them in saltwater and then hot fresh water every week.
Old aquarium trick, fresh water bacteria and other un-wanted organisms'don't survive well in saltwater...... and.... vice-versa.
I keep my fresh water nets in saltwater bath to keep from transfereing any diseses from tank to tank. And fresh water bath for my saltwater tools.

.....cool kayaker...... i got three paddlin' boats (along with 3 sailboats) one 13' poly boat, WS Manteo, and
2 skin on frame. built this one (F-1 design) at a class on the north Oregon coast, just south of Cannon Beach.
http://www.capefalconkayak.com/kayak%20and%20paddle%20designs.html
If you like kayaks, Poke around.....that site can keep you busy for hours....Brian is one of those
'twitterpated genius's'

32268 32267 click on pic for bigger look

coolkayaker1
01-15-2012, 03:32 AM
Thanks for the mold tips and kayak resource, day. I'm going to check for mold, and I know what you mean about it getting into the wood and smelling like an old library book forever. Good trick. I'm studying kayak site now.

ErlingH
01-25-2012, 09:54 AM
Hi, I decided to try the plastic box solution - but with an Oasis humidifier that I had already ordered. Box is 40 x 70 cm and with my Soprano inside holds 53-55% humidity without any modification such as air vents. Outside indoors temperature is 20 centigrade and humidity around 28%.

The Oasis is the magnet and self adhesive model, so sits clearly visible from the outside, just like my hygrometer. Perfect solution. I thought the smaller - one uke size - box might be better because two ukes won't risk crashing into one another. So when I get my Concert soon, I'll just get another set up like this. So thanks Kayaker for the tip - much cheaper than expensive hard cases.

webby
01-25-2012, 10:29 AM
I'm sorry but I just don't understand this thread, I dont see what all the fuss is about, aren't you all being a bit anal and over concerned ?

I was out in the australian central deserts a couple of years ago and the humidity there is NON EXISTANT, 0% humidity, the air was sooooooo dry your mouth and lips dried out and it was a biting dry heat like i have never edxperienced before, in THOSE conditions then yes perhaps I would be concerned about humidty or the lack of it drying out a uke, but 30%, 40%, 50% the kind of levels you guys seem to be discussing, it seems you are making a lot of fuss over nothing.

Please correct me if I'm wrong but aren't you all making a mountain out of a molehill here ?

coolkayaker1
01-29-2012, 06:07 AM
webby--it's all over UU and the internet, so I'll just sum it up for you: you're wrong.

ErlingH: That's great. I know what you mean about the single uke sized plastic boxes...that might be good. and, I'd wager they're stackable.

I've used my setup for three months now, and the humidity is still 62%--and I haven't added water to the sponges yet! No mold, either. I love it!

coolkayaker1
02-25-2012, 08:30 AM
342983429934300

I just wanted to update this thread with photos. I've been using this system for a while now, and honestly, all winter, have not had to refill the sponges with water! Not even once. (I even keep my Herco clay humidor in there to keep it humidified! lol)

I kept two ukes in there, and now just added my Pono, and it's bombproof. Easier to access than the case, no uke case mold because I don't humidify the cases. As you can see, closed up tightly (which I did before I took this photo overnight, just to see how high it'd get), the humidity is over 75%. But, don't worry, it's fully adjustable: just slide the top open (like I have in the photo) to whatever degree you'd like and watch your monitor and drop the humidity to whatever level you desire. I typically leave it open about 5 inches on one end, and the humidity is about 58%. The humidity in that room? 25%!

One key is that the gallon ziplocks with sponges must be left open (unzipped)--I do this rather than poking holes in the bags because (a) I don't want any sponge fluid leaking out of holes--the single large opening I can just keep upward, and (b) I'm lazy.

I'm thrilled with it. I do flip the ukes, placing them on back and sometimes front (string side) in the Steri-lite box, just for variety and to assure no water build up under the ukes, but I've noticed none (and unlike humidifying a uke case, there is no moist cloth touching the body of the uke). Total investment to really and truly humidify up to three ukuleles: $20.50 plus tax. Cheers.

Plainsong
02-25-2012, 08:42 AM
Wow, 76% humidity though, isn't that a bit much? 45-60% yeah ok, but 76%! I hope you don't have some eventual opposite problems there.

kaizersoza
02-25-2012, 09:20 AM
fair play CK that is a good set up, don't know whether we need it in the UK but if i ever do i will follow your lead, quite cheap to set up as well

Plainsong
02-25-2012, 09:26 AM
fair play CK that is a good set up, don't know whether we need it in the UK but if i ever do i will follow your lead, quite cheap to set up as well

Oh yeah, yes fiddly than a bunch of cases. :)

molinee
08-20-2012, 05:21 PM
I have been using this exact plastic box system for well over four years and it has been working well. And the humidity stays for a long time. No cracks on any of my solid ukuleles... I also have a couple of solid ukuleles hanging on the wall at 20% humidity and they also have no cracks...... Go figure :)

coolkayaker1
08-20-2012, 05:37 PM
I have been using this exact plastic box system for well over four years and it has been working well. And the humidity stays for a long time. No cracks on any of my solid ukuleles... I also have a couple of solid ukuleles hanging on the wall at 20% humidity and they also have no cracks...... Go figure :)

Wow, you've used it longer than me, molinee. Excellent. I'm having the same wonderful experience with it as you are. Thanks for posting (this will come up often as a subject when everyone turns on their heaters this autumn).

webby
08-21-2012, 03:33 AM
I just live in the tropics, problem solved.

Pukulele Pete
08-21-2012, 09:10 AM
I've got one of these in each of my cases.http://www.zorb-it.com/overview/

BJ1s
08-24-2012, 07:35 AM
I have tubes that held large cigars. I put a sponge inside the tube, punch some holes in the tube, wet the sponges, and put the tube into my uke case.

IamNoMan
11-01-2014, 08:27 AM
I like the salt water in the sponge idea to reduce mold spores, etc. I have found a slice of apple in a baggie works well for humidification purposes. You have to change it out about every two weeks.

I do not know if this is germane to this discussion or not. In season I store a banjo in my car. When I take it into an interior location to play It is generally a half tone below pitch, (accross the board). I tune up and join in the fun. About a half hour later my banjo is half a tone above pitch. I retune and am good for the rest of the sessiun. One-half hour acclimatization time.

coolkayaker1
11-01-2014, 08:32 AM
I like the salt water in the sponge idea to reduce mold spores, etc. I have found a slice of apple in a baggie works well for humidification purposes. You have to change it out about every two weeks.



Salt water will corrode the metal parts of the uke (ever store anything by the oceanside?). lol Trust me--I have used the sponges with tapwater for two full winters--no mold when I change them out every two months or so (little black spots on the sponges, perhaps, but none on ukes, no moldy smell. If one were really super concerned, literally a drop of bleach in the spongewater will do make even the teensy black spots go away)

Apple is good, but not as good as car wash sponges. :-)

itsme
11-04-2014, 06:03 PM
I like the idea of using a slice of apple. It can't possibly spill or leak, it'll just dry up. And it probably smells nice.

Back in the day, people would using something like a slice of carrot to keep their herbs from drying out. ;)

coolkayaker1
11-04-2014, 07:10 PM
I like the idea of using a slice of apple.

it dries up quickly; costs more than a sponge, in the long run; is sticky; is a nidus for mold and, in particular, bacteria; and attracts ants.

Redeyejedi
11-04-2014, 08:13 PM
prescription pill bottles with a hole on each side with sponge slice inside. one sponge may go 3-4 pill bottles. i check weekly. Southern California santa monica mtns.

Inksplosive AL
11-05-2014, 02:43 AM
After reading this thread, thanks to the OP I bought large antifungal dish sponges and use them in unzipped ziplock bags for a year now with no sign of mold. I rinse them with hot water, load them with cold water give them a squeeze and pop it in the bag. If my sponges show signs of mold (little black dots) I would throw them and the bag it was in away and start over fresh. Bleach kills mold, salt kills metal.

The acid rain on the east coast from the coal burning power plants doesn't help with our outdoor metal either.

wayfarer75
11-05-2014, 02:59 AM
I read somewhere here on UU that someone used a whole orange or tangerine as a humidifier when traveling. I thought that was an interesting idea. It's strictly short-term, of course, but hey, you can even eat it when you get there.

actadh
11-05-2014, 04:12 AM
I have an Oasis for my KoAloha Opio that I lay next to the fretboard on the accessory hump, along with a hole punched prescription pill bottle with moistened Scot paper towel folded inside that lays in the bout area, as well as a tiny hole punched plastic over-the-counter (OTC) pill bottle with the moistened Scot paper towel that lays in the headstock area. All are in an Ohana hard case.

My Luna solid spruce top has a Musicians Friend hard case with a Herco humidifier under the headstock and a prescription pill bottle type in the bout area.

My solid mahogany Silvertone is very dry. It is in a Luna hard foam case with a cello humidifier -the long rubber tube with holes variety - running the length of the strings from headstock to soundhole. It also has a prescription pill bottle humidifier in the bout section.

I have a plywood camp uke in my Luna's old gig bag, and my birch Harmony and my birch Kay reside in a vintage suitcase - all have multiple prescription pill bottle humidifiers.

The type of paper towel in the rubbery pill bottles seems to be the key - the Scot one is a ribbed layer half the width of usual. It holds the moisture better than most. I poke holes in the sides as well as the top of the bottles as I might have them horizontal as well as vertical. Sometimes even the smallest are too big, so some travel size OTC pill bottles fit better between the body of the uke and the case.

The Oasis is my time-to-fill-all-of-them indicator.

Jackie C
11-07-2014, 03:30 AM
My solution is that my tropical fish room, doubles as my music room.
6 tanks evaporating seem to keep this room above 40%, even when
the rest of the house is 25-30%

I have 5 decent sized aquariums spread throughout our house and we have to run a dehumidifier even in the winter. I can't remember what humidity below 50% feels like. Keeps my ukulele and mandolin happy.

Down Up Dick
12-02-2014, 06:30 AM
There's a ukulele cabinet made from a bookcase in another thread that I think is a terrific idea. I would like one like that myself if I had room for it. But the box under the bed is a great idea too, though maybe more of a pain to get ones's Uke out to play.

So how about a plain ol' plastic bag with a humidifier in it? It could be closed with a twisty tie. It too would be a pain to get one's Uke out, but it would be cheap, cheap, cheap! Especially if one used a pill bottle humidifier, etc.

A penny saved is worthless! :old:

coolkayaker1
12-02-2014, 09:22 AM
735927359373594

coolkayaker1
12-02-2014, 09:34 AM
There's a ukulele cabinet made from a bookcase in another thread that I think is a terrific idea. I would like one like that myself if I had room for it. But the box under the bed is a great idea too, though maybe more of a pain to get ones's Uke out to play.

So how about a plain ol' plastic bag with a humidifier in it? It could be closed with a twisty tie. It too would be a pain to get one's Uke out, but it would be cheap, cheap, cheap! Especially if one used a pill bottle humidifier, etc. If placed in a plastic bag, it's not humidifying (unless you meant to put the uke in the plastic bag, too, which is good, but then a bear to get out and play).

A penny saved is worthless! :old:

The ukulele cabinet will perhaps eventually mold the cabinet. I had a molded wooden furniture once--nothing, I mean nothing, would get the mold out (not even bleach). Looks good, but have to keep glass clean, blah blah. Want to move your ukes? Good luck with a full size cabinet.

Honestly, no problem getting ukes out of the Sterilite boxes--easy to move, store,. etc.

I live where I do not need humidification after the heat goes off in April; all summer, humidity around 50%. So, what do I do? These under bed boxes nest in one another, so very compact Nest the lids, nest the boxes, put under bed or in attic, tidy, forget about it until November when furnace comes on again.

No one needs to stack them like me; most have fewer ukes, and three boxes (so, fifteen sopranos, or twelve concerts, or nine tenors) can be stored underneath an actual bed, unstacked. lol. Just pull out, pop off lid, take out uke (faster than a case!) They don't slide around in there much at all as long as kept flat. Big benefit: entire thing is disposable. If sponges get moldy, or bags get yucky, throw away. A freezer bag and a cheap car wash sponge from the dollar store is, well, a dollar! lol So easy to view the hygrometer through the clear plastic container. Want more humidification? Open the bags more at ziplock. Want less? Ziplock them half way closed. It's foolproof (I know, because even I can use it)! Re-hydrate the sponges (two per box) when the humidifier falls, which I have found to be in 2-3 months (i.e. twice a winter).

The tiny sponges and pill bottles and film canisters don;t hold enough water, from my experience. Too many refills (esp if one has many ukes, Dick). I even have a wicking whole room humidifier from Amazon (about $120), and nope, it's not as good as these boxes. Too many fills (daily) and doesn't get the room up consistently like these boxes. Many will look for a more complex solution for a simple problem (like when I posted my hanging Martins thread using simple eye bolts and leather straps, nothing else; everyone with no experience said, "Oh, it'll fall". No falls, no loosening, not even my baritone, in going on two years!)

Huge advantage to humidifying outside an instrument case: no locker room, old socks case felt odor! Why sacrifice a case to wetness and mold? I never understood that (and trust me, I have a ton of smelly cases, so I know that it'll eventually happen). LOL

Ramart
12-02-2014, 10:08 AM
RE the Sterilite storage box panacea: Coolkayaker1 makes a convincing case (no pun intended). I think I'll make the change, and use my hard cases just for travel.

Q: We've learned here to avoid soaking the sponges in metal-unfriendly salt water, but is distilled water preferable to tap water as a mold deterrent?

coolkayaker1
12-02-2014, 10:55 AM
RE the Sterilite storage box panacea: Coolkayaker1 makes a convincing case (no pun intended). I think I'll make the change, and use my hard cases just for travel.

Q: We've learned here to avoid soaking the sponges in metal-unfriendly salt water, but is distilled water preferable to tap water as a mold deterrent?
Hi, Ramart. I have used tap water alone with very little mold...just specs on the sponges after 2-3 months, which I can wash off in the sink during rehydration. Your tap water may vary. Lol. Some of it depends on how humid one keeps it in the box; more humid, more mold. I keep it steady around 40-50 to start, and rehydrate when it gets to 30 or so.

But, one could add a capful of bleach to the water in the bag if necessary. If I were to do this , which I have not, I'd use two freezer bags. I've never had one leak in two years, but if it did, bleach may ruin the uke's finish.

Down Up Dick
12-02-2014, 11:14 AM
coolkayaker1, I never said your boxes weren't a good idea--they are. I just thought of a different (cheaper) way and thought I'd suggest it.

I only have one solid Uke (Ohana 6 string) and one solid top one (Kala baritone). I don't think I'll buy any more. I want a Kala 8 string, but the one I want isn't solid. I may get an Ohana concert Pineapple too. And that's about it.

Well, whatever floats your goat! :old:

Inksplosive AL
12-02-2014, 01:07 PM
I have one box with much smaller kitchen sponges in open sandwich bags that read mildew resistant on the package. I haven't seen any mold in a year now in my jungle box and would throw out any that grow any mold, spec, spore or spot.

Tap water is fine for sponges, distilled water removes minerals from the water so its safe for use in mechanical humidifiers and autoclaves. You don't want mineral buildup in either machine. A humidifier will stop working where a bad autoclave chamber can explode spewing contaminated material throughout the mess.

Best to my knowledge is minerals do not cause mold.

~AL~

Ramart
12-02-2014, 05:17 PM
...one could add a capful of bleach to the water in the bag if necessary...

But could chlorine gas given off by bleach harm the ukes' finish, glues, etc.?

bonesigh
12-03-2014, 02:57 PM
OOooo, I didn't know you did Bonsai (: Cool! I don't have many Bonsai now that I live in Virginia. Boy, was it heartbreaking when I had to move here and leave all my babies behind )0;
Great idea if you have one or two ukes...


I have more than that, so I ended up getting a room humidifier at my local home depot and it's been running great for over a year. Keeps my room at 60% humidity.

It was worth the initial $90 investment, and all my hung instruments and bonsai trees are the better for it.

bonesigh
12-03-2014, 02:58 PM
Sorry, way off topic I guess (: Great post about humidity!

Dan Uke
12-03-2014, 05:22 PM
this thread should be a sticky...it'll resurrect every winter for as long as UU is around!!

UkuleleHill
12-03-2014, 05:38 PM
I think it would be best suited for the Uke Tech Forum... But I could see why it would be a good idea to sticky it...