A Gentle Humidifier for
Climate-Treating Uilleann Pipe Reeds

Copyright 2009 David C. Daye

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A small sealable plastic food storage box with a very small container for water makes an ideal humidifier for use in making and stabilizing reeds.

Note this is NOT INTENDED for storing playing reeds to keep them in working condition. The humidity inside is far too high.

The goal is to let the cane reach equilibrium in a condition of significant moistening, but not getting so damp that the cane becomes visibly saturated nor darkened in color. The internal humidity level in comfortable indoor temperatures will be about 90-95% Relative Humidity.

This photo shows the box I've been using for some months. The dimensions are about one hand-span in width and length, and about 4 finger-widths in depth.

I like to have a surface above the bottom of the box for reeds and cane slips to rest on. If the box is bumped and water should spill out of the reservoir, it won't soak anything potentially ruining reeds.

Cane slips and unscraped reeds seem to need about 24 hours to become well humidified. Scraped reeds humidify much faster because of all the exposed pores in the scraped area. They should also have had their bindings heat-treated with a flame or hair drier, warm enough to noticeably soften the wax for half a minute or so, to relieve the closing-stresses of the staple. Otherwise a short exposure to humidity, in new reeds, will cause them to collapse shut permanently.

I check my scraped reeds after about 4 hours. Generally 6-12 hours seems to be the most they need. They'll re-dry gracefully in normal room air (don't plunge scraped reeds directly into very dry or hot air) but you'll need to check the elevation after about half an hour, and again at about one hour in drier air, and adjust the bridles if the lips are closing too much.

Bottom of Reed Humidifier page.