Humidifiers or Vaporizers: Which should you get?

  • Cool-mist humidifiers and steam vaporizers both release moisture to the air in your home and help relieve respiratory symptoms without medication.
  • Although both machines help ease various conditions caused by high or low humidity levels, both operate differently.
  • To ward off indoor allergens, be sure to regularly clean your machine and regulate the humidity levels in your environment.

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Humidifiers and vaporizers are designed to add moisture to the air. They are both useful home remedies for eliminating the effects of dry air especially during the cold and flu seasons.

Humidity levels of 30 percent or less can cause a range of conditions that includes static electricity, dry skin, nasal and cough congestion, allergies and breathing problems. While both devices were developed to relieve such conditions, both operate quite differently to address these issues.

Read on to know the differences between humidifiers and vaporizers, including their various uses and benefits that could help you determine which suits your needs best.

1. How they operate

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The main difference between humidifiers and vaporizers is how they add moisture into the air: while humidifiers produce mist from cold water, vaporizers generate steam from hot water.

Cool-mist humidifiers either use ultrasonic vibrations to diffuse cool mist into the air or a disk submerged in the device that is rapidly turned. As it moves, water is broken up into small particles that can be inhaled.  

A steam vaporizer or warm-mist humidifier on the other hand utilizes electricity to heat water to produce steam that is released into the air and reaches the body. Inhalants like Vicks Soothing Vapors can be added to this type of humidifier except for babies or young children.

Take note, the mist from steam vaporizers may be purer since the water is boiled before it is released into the air.

2. Their cleaning process

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You may want to clean your humidifiers daily while it’s in use to prevent the buildup of mold, mildew, and bacteria. Also consider using distilled or purified water over tap water due to its lower contaminant amounts.

Daily Cleaning: Drain the contents, dry all surfaces, then refill with fresh water.

Every third day: Scrub all surfaces with mild dish soap and water to remove all residue before refilling with fresh water.

Storage: Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning guide. Remove any dirty filters, dry all parts, then store in a dry place.

Similar daily cleaning rules apply to steam vaporizers, but mineral and mold buildup is less of a problem.

Weekly: Empty tank and refill with 3 1/2 inches of white vinegar for 10 minutes. Clean off any debris with a mild detergent.

Storage: Follow weekly instructions and make sure dirty filters are thrown out and all surfaces are dry before storing in a cool, dry place.

Follow the specific instructions from the manufacturer since all humidifiers are different.

3. Safety Concerns

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The chief concern with using cool-mist humidifiers is with the contaminants they release into the air. Inhaling these eventually trigger allergic reactions leading to breathing issues. To avoid such concerns, clean your machine regularly and thoroughly using distilled or purified water.

While steam vaporizers don’t emit as much harmful contaminants into the air due to pure steam being released from boiled water, this device is prone to leaking, leading to risks of burns from steam or spilled water. This is why vaporizers should be kept away from children and pets and should never be used in nurseries.

4. How useful they are for allergies

Humidity levels higher than 50 percent can lead to mold growth or a proliferation of dust mites in your home. To thwart these common allergens, try getting a hygrometer to measure the level of humidity around your home.

For homes with indoor allergens, steam vaporizers may be a better choice because it contains lesser contaminants.

5. How effective they are against congestion

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Both devices equally help with cold and flu congestion. Although both generate moisture and achieve the same humidity levels differently, by the time humidity reaches your lungs, it’s the same temperature all over.

Nonetheless, cool-mist humidifiers are still recommended for children over vaporizers to lessen risks of burning from the steam.


Source: Healthline

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