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Hi, I have a stern feeling y’all are gonna trash on me for this one 😭
So I know for a fact that reeds are very humidity sensitive. I keep about 5-7 reeds at a time (3.5 str BSS Baritone Sax reeds) in a humidity sealed heavy bag with one of those cigar two way humidity things at 72%.
Despite my precautions my reeds still get moldy, specifically on the butt ends of the reeds that you can see on the back end of the mouthpiece. I do put sharpie on the butts of these reeds to label them if that’s a problem. Only slightly moldy in the reed itself. It’s only very slight though, and they still play okay, It’s just gross… Im kind of a spitty breathy person and I get bad allergies which might make things worse.
What do I need to change in my reed storage and reed care to keep this from happening? Do I need to use a lower percentage of humidity because of how much they get used? Is there a way to clean them after use? Do I need to not use that sharpie? Maybe I need to let them air out sometimes? I don’t wanna be yucky but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong
 

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Hi, I have a stern feeling y’all are gonna trash on me for this one 😭
So I know for a fact that reeds are very humidity sensitive. I keep about 5-7 reeds at a time (3.5 str BSS Baritone Sax reeds) in a humidity sealed heavy bag with one of those cigar two way humidity things at 72%.
Despite my precautions my reeds still get moldy...
They get moldy BECAUSE of your "precautions", not despite them.

Get a simple reed holder and let them dry out between uses.


As in a recent thread on the same topic, design an experiment to grow mold (which you have done very well), and then don't do that.
 

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Stop doing the humidity thing. It's just a petri dish. Put them in a normal reed guard and your issues will go away. Mold is not good for you.

When you wet the reed a couple of minutes prior to playing, you're exposing it to 100% humidity, same as when it's in your mouth. That's all you need to do. Keeping reeds wet all of the time only saves you 30 seconds when setting up. That's the only plus. But drawbacks include mold, bacteria, and water logged reeds.
 

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People that use these humidity packs seem to be concerned with the waviness when you first put a reed in your mouth. In my experience that waviness disappears within two or three minutes of playing. It's a normal operating condition for cane reeds.
 

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So I know for a fact that reeds are very humidity sensitive. I keep about 5-7 reeds at a time (3.5 str BSS Baritone Sax reeds) in a humidity sealed heavy bag with one of those cigar two way humidity things at 72%.
I had the same issue. We both misunderstood the purpose of the "humidity things". Those are designed to keep things humid, not to dry them out. They're good for cigars and guitars because both tend to dry out and be damaged as a result. Reeds, however, don't need to stay humid and, if they do, that's when mold develops. So throw it in your acoustic guitar case or just get rid of it, but dont' put it in your reed bag.
 

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There are some highly respected players who do what I consider "crazy stuff" with keeping their reeds moist all the time (Sanborn, Marienthal). I can't say anything bad about their playing but their never-let-the-reed-dry-out method doesn't work for me. But there are lots of people who do it and swear by it. Different strokes.

I wet my reeds just before I play them. When I'm thru playing them I wipe them dry and put them in a reed guard to hold them flat while they dry out. My reeds last for a long, long, long time.

My suspicion (just a guess) about where the idea came from about not letting reeds dry out ---- if you take a wet reed and just let it dry out on the mouthpiece or just lying out loose. When you pick it up to play again the tip will be all wavy shaped and when you first wet it, the tip will be everything but flat for a few minutes until the reed has fully gotten moist again. And sometimes those extreme waves in the shape of the tip can cause it to split. But that never happens if you put the reed in a reed guard (or on a piece of glass with rubber bands around to hold the reed flat on the glass - etc) so the tip is held flat as it dries -- AND -- next time you are going to play the reed get it wet and then immediately put it back in the reed guard or on a flat glass etc. to hold the tip flat while the reed re-hydrates.

In the old days we would do this for a minute or two while the reed was adjusting to being moistened again - a flat surface that you always have with you:
Wood Ruler Finger Thumb Hardwood
 

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The problem with humidity control packs is that when you put in wet reeds the pack gets saturated and there’s no more moisture control until the ambient humidity in your now sealed case is under the 72%, which cannot happen because science.

Lots of people rip folks who keep reeds wet all the time, most people just let them dry out: both of these options make way more sense than trying to do magic tricks with humidity packs and wet reeds in small airtight cases.
 

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I've never had the wavy tip last for more than MAYBE a minute after I start playing. I've not had it cause a split.

Honestly I suspect the "reed guard" only really adds value by keeping the reeds from banging into things and getting chipped. I suspect that you could put each reed in a little box with ventilation holes (just to protect it from the other reeds) and never notice a difference.
 

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The problem with humidity control packs is that when you put in wet reeds the pack gets saturated and there’s no more moisture control until the ambient humidity in your now sealed case is under the 72%, which cannot happen because science.

Lots of people rip folks who keep reeds wet all the time, most people just let them dry out: both of these options make way more sense than trying to do magic tricks with humidity packs and wet reeds in small airtight cases.
There you have it.
 

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Lotta people come here and say that what they are doing is causing a problem, how to stop it from causing the problem? The answer is DDT. The lack of critical thinking - no strike that, the lack of thinking at all - these days just amazes me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Lotta people come here and say that what they are doing is causing a problem, how to stop it from causing the problem? The answer is DDT. The lack of critical thinking - no strike that, the lack of thinking at all - these days just amazes me.
I don’t think I understand what you’re saying, you’re saying I have a lack of critical thinking and that’s the problem?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
There are some highly respected players who do what I consider "crazy stuff" with keeping their reeds moist all the time (Sanborn, Marienthal). I can't say anything bad about their playing but I sure can't get on board with their never-let-the-reed-dry-out method.

I wet my reeds just before I play them. When I'm thru playing them I wipe them dry and put them in a reed guard to hold them flat while they dry out. My reeds last for a long, long, long time.

My suspicion (just a guess) about where the idea came from about not letting reeds dry out ---- if you take a wet reed and just let it dry out on the mouthpiece or just lying out loose. When you pick it up to play again the tip will be all wavy shaped and when you first wet it, the tip will be everything but flat for a few minutes until the reed has fully gotten moist again. And sometimes those extreme waves in the shape of the tip can cause it to split. But that never happens if you put the reed in a reed guard (or on a piece of glass with rubber bands around to hold the reed flat on the glass - etc) so the tip is held flat as it dries -- AND -- next time you are going to play the reed get it wet and then immediately put it back in the reed guard or on a flat glass etc. to hold the tip flat while the reed re-hydrates.

In the old days we would do this for a minute or two while the reed was adjusting to being moistened again - a flat surface that you always have with you:
View attachment 137004
You are a helpful kind soul, thank you
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I had the same issue. We both misunderstood the purpose of the "humidity things". Those are designed to keep things humid, not to dry them out. They're good for cigars and guitars because both tend to dry out and be damaged as a result. Reeds, however, don't need to stay humid and, if they do, that's when mold develops. So throw it in your acoustic guitar case or just get rid of it, but dont' put it in your reed bag.
Wow, alright then. All the people I’ve told wrong now… thank you so much
 

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What do I need to change in my reed storage and reed care to keep this from happening? Do I need to use a lower percentage of humidity because of how much they get used? Is there a way to clean them after use? Do I need to not use that sharpie? Maybe I need to let them air out sometimes? I don’t wanna be yucky but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong
I think the answer has been given, but just in case, I'll answer this directly and as concisely as possible (with a little anecdote on the side, see below). What you are doing wrong is storing your reeds sealed up in a damp, humid environment. The way to correct it is to rinse them off after using, wipe them off on a towel or your shirt, and allow them to dry fully, then place them in a simple, inexpensive reed holder like the D'Addario Reed Guard (see below). Actually, that particular reed guard is ventilated, so the reed will dry in it. Problem solved:
D'Addario Woodwinds Reed Guard, Large Red - Woodwind & Brasswind (wwbw.com)

A few years ago, I tried the "Reedjuvinator" technique, using a sealed tube in which you can place 4 reeds, with a tiny sponge dampened with Listerine. The Listerine prevents mold (so that's one solution to your issue), and the idea is to keep the reeds moist and ready to play. Some say the reeds last longer this way. I gave this a good solid test, using good reeds, and for me it was a failure. Because the reeds played like a damp noodle, as if waterlogged (which they were). They still played but I didn't like the way they responded, kind of dull. Once I dried them out and then just dampened them for a minute in a glass of water prior to playing, they played fine. Some players have had a more positive experience with the Reedjuvinator, but it didn't work for me.
 

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I don’t think I understand what you’re saying, you’re saying I have a lack of critical thinking and that’s the problem?
No, I’m saying that keeping reeds in a damp environment and then questioning how to keep them from getting moldy indicates that you didn’t think things through. The solution to the problem should be obvious.

I tried the humidity pack / sealed bag thing once. My reeds got moldy. So I stopped doing it. If I had been on SOTW at the time (this was many years ago, pre-WWW in fact), I might have posted about my experience, but I wouldn’t have asked how to keep my reeds from getting moldy in a seled, damp environment, I would just say that it didn’t work for me because it made my reeds moldy.

FWIW my post was intended to be more general in nature, there are many questions on SOTW that show a similar lack of thoughtfulness, it wasn’t directed specifically at you. Though it’s in your thread, so I can see how you might have interpreted it that way. I apologize if I offended or insulted you.

As musicians, we each have to find our own way, our own bag of tricks if you will. Often that means trying things that other people suggest. But we also have to be willing to abandon techniques that don’t work for us, regardless of how many of our heroes promote them. That’s called thinking for yourself.
 

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Now in order to get rid of the mildew on the reeds, scrub them with Hydrogen Peroxide. Put maybe four reeds in a flat saucer or small plate. Put enough HP in it to cover the bottom and start washing them by using a toothbrush, always brushing longitudinally and be very careful at the tip. Turn over and do the other side. Shake off excess and put in Reed Guard.
When you need to play, wet the reeds, put them back in the Reed Guard and they'll be ready to play in a few minutes. Put back in the Reed Guard after playing.
You might have to clean with the HP once a month or so.
 

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Just forget about all those rituals and use a regular Rico Holder. Reeds can be a pain sometimes but honestly internet posts makes them worse than they really are. If a reed truly suits your setup , you will be just fine without so many tricks and stuff. My real personal nightmare with reeds started about 10 years ago when I started following all those crazy things. I don’t need to mention I was using reeds that were too hard for my setup . That’s the excuse behind all those rituals. Just recently (ish) I decided to come come back to my old ways. I don’t even put the reeds inside a glass of water anymore. Not even new. Just in my mouth while I put the horn together. They work even better now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Just forget about all those rituals and use a regular Rico Holder. Reeds can be a pain sometimes but honestly internet posts makes them worse than they really are. If a reed truly suits your setup , you will be just fine without so many tricks and stuff. My real personal nightmare with reeds started about 10 years ago when I started following all those crazy things. I don’t need to mention I was using reeds that were too hard for my setup . That’s the excuse behind all those rituals. Just recently (ish) I decided to come come back to my old ways. I don’t even put the reeds inside a glass of water anymore. Not even new. Just in my mouth while I put the horn together. They were even better now.
Funny, I’ve been thinking my reed size is too stiff too so I went through that same process. I’m gonna go back down to 3’s from my 3.5s after I order a new box. It requires so much humility to admit you were wrong to yourself. I get a nice sound out of 3.5s but I do worse in ballad big band tunes (that warm feeling) because playing soft low notes is challenging.
 
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