Home Health: Humidifiers Vs Vaporizers

Discover the differences between a humidifier and vaporizer and why humidity can help with colds.

Every parent wants what's best for their baby, and this is especially true when baby is sick.At some point, most parents have to make a decision about what type of humidifier to buy.At first, the task seems simple, but then the questions begin.What's the difference between a humidifier and a vaporizer?How do these machines add moisture to the air?Which one is best for my child?Relax.The answers are here.

When a person has a cold or allergies, humidity helps alleviate the symptoms.When congested, if a house is too dry, nasal passages also become dry.Adding moisture to the air loosens the congestion in the nose and makes breathing easier and coughs more productive.Bacteria are more likely to adhere to a dry nasal passage than to a moist one, so opportunities for infection increase if nasal passages aren't moist enough.An overly dry house can also yield nosebleeds, dry and itchy skin, and increased static.

Many agree that humidity levels are best at 40%-50% in a house.Anything below 30% can be uncomfortable and too dry.A doctor may also recommend increasing humidity when a person has a cold or respiratory infection.To add humidity, there are two basic choices:a humidifier or a vaporizer.The main difference is that humidifiers release cool moisture into the air, and a vaporizers or steam vaporizers boil water and then release warm moisture into the air.The good news is that doctors seem to agree that both methods work equally well for relieving cold symptoms, so long as directions are followed and the machines are kept meticulously clean.It's basically up to the consumer which method they prefer.


There are many types of humidifiers on the market, and all are electric devises that release cool moisture into a room.Perhaps the biggest difference between the humidifiers and vaporizers is that humidifiers don't boil water before using it and vaporizers do.Because of this, there is a chance of spreading water laden with bacteria or molds into the room.Additionally, many water sources contain minerals and since the water isn't boiled, minerals can be spread into the room, too. This is evidenced by a fine layer of white dust in the room; however using distilled water can prevent this.Because the humidifier releases cool moisture, many in warmer climates feel it is simply more refreshing and cooler than a vaporizer.

There are several types of humidifiers on the market. A cool mist humidifier uses cool water to create a fine mist or spray which is then blown into the room.Similarly, a warm mist humidifier uses warm water but it cools it before it is blown back into the room.With an impeller humidifier, water is broken down and diffused into the air.When it is released it looks like steam or fog.Ultrasonic humidifiers use technology that produces vibrations to fracture and disperse water into a fine mist. The mist is released into the room. An evaporation humidifier is sometimes also called a wicking humidifier. A fan blows air through a wet filter, pad, or other such device and produces moist air to be release from the machine. Each type of humidifier produces moisture in the room; however the price is going to depend on the technology within the humidifier.

A vaporizer, also called a steam vaporizer, creates moisture by boiling water and then releasing the hot steam, thus moisture, into the room. In general, vaporizers are usually less expensive than humidifiers.Unlike most humidifiers, you can easily add inhalants to vaporizers. Since the water is boiled in a vaporizer, there is less risk of spreading bacteria or molds into the room with this method.It also does not spray mineral deposits into the room, but because it boils the water there may be a fine white mineral dust left in the reservoir of the vaporizer. However, since the water is boiled, there is a risk of burning an infant or child by accident.If a vaporizer is used, then it and its cords should be well out of reach of any children and its steam should also be out of reach.In cold climates, people report that vaporizers help add a feeling of warmth to an otherwise cool room or house.

The key to both humidifiers and vaporizers is to keep them meticulously clean.Water should be changed every day, and the machine should be cleaned regularly according to the instructions.Also be cautious about adding too much humidity to the air.When conditions are too humid, it's the perfect climate for bacteria, mold, and dust mites to grow.People with allergies to these should be aware that an increase in humidity can cause these organisms to thrive.To keep humidity in check, a good rule to remember is that there should not be condensation on a cold window or windowsill from the humidifier or vaporizer.

Preferences for the humidifier and vaporizer vary among people, but knowing the difference between the two can make a purchasing decision easier. With added humidity in the air from either machine, parents, and baby, can rest easier knowing that uncomfortable cold symptoms will be alleviated.

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