What is the difference between a humidifier and a vaporizer? Which one is best for my lifestyle? What are the health benefits?
We get to these questions and more in this blog post. For brevity’s sake, here’s the gist: a vaporizer is a type of humidifier, but it differs slightly from ultrasonic and evaporative humidifiers in that it boils water to create water vapor, slightly elevating the temperature of a room.
Before you decide what type of humidifier is best for you, let’s talk about the details.
What is a Humidifier?
A humidifier is a device that expels moisture into the air to increase relative humidity (RH). The type of humidifier you choose dictates how moisture is released from the device; there are three types of humidifiers: ultrasonic humidifiers, evaporative humidifiers, and steam vaporizers.
An ultrasonic humidifier is the most common type of humidifier on the market. An ultrasonic humidifier works by vibrating a metal diaphragm at sonic speed to create water droplets that are then fanned into the room to increase humidity levels.
An evaporative humidifier works similarly to a bedroom fan: this type of humidifier draws air into the device from the surrounding room. The air is passed through a moistened wick, which binds water droplets with air molecules, and fanned back into the room.
What is a Steam Vaporizer?
A steam vaporizer is technically a humidifier, though it operates quite differently than ultrasonic humidifiers and evaporative humidifiers. A steam vaporizer, also known as a warm-mist humidifier, functions by boiling water to create water vapor, which is then fanned into the room.
The steam immediately released from a vaporizer can be very hot, as can any water condensation from the device tank. While the steam from a vaporizer cools to a comfortable level when it touches the room, steam vaporizers are not recommended in households with babies, small children, or pets. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages the use of cool or cold mist humidifiers for baby nurseries to avoid a burning hazard.
The Similarities & Differences
Since a steam vaporizer is a humidifier, the end result of using an ultrasonic humidifier, an evaporative humidifier or a steam vaporizer is the same: increased humidity levels in your home. But, not all humidifiers are created equally!
Here are a few notable differences between the ultrasonic and evaporative humidifiers and steam vaporizers.
Warm Mist vs. Cool Mist
Both ultrasonic and evaporative humidifier models are “cool mist” or “cold mist.” This means that the moisture released from the device is below average temperature. Cool mist humidifiers are useful all year long.
Vaporizers, on the other hand, are considered a “warm mist” humidifier, which means that they release moisture into the surrounding environment that is slightly elevated in temperature. This feature makes vaporizers a coveted winter tool since they can slightly, but noticeably, warm up a room.
Mold & Bacteria
If you have ever watched an episode of Naked and Afraid (or any survival show for that matter), you know that boiled water kills potential bacteria found in sitting water. This concept applies to humidifiers, as well.
Since steam vaporizers boil water into water vapor to increase RH, they kill bacteria, mold, or any other contaminants that form in the water tank. Cool mist humidifiers can develop bacteria if not emptied and wiped down after each use and disinfected weekly.
Unlike other humidifiers, Canopy take ample precaution to kill bacteria in all stages of the humidifying process:
- Embedded UV lights kill 99.9% of bacteria, mold, and viruses that may form in your water tank
- Wood pulp paper filters trap contaminants from the water tank before releasing moisture into the air
- No-mist technology prevents the development of mold on curtains, bedding, and any other pieces of furniture affected by a direct line of mist
- All parts that touch water are dishwasher safe
Steam vaporizers tend to use more electricity than cool mist humidifiers since more energy is needed to boil the water from the tank. If your goal is to reduce electricity usage or lower your monthly bill, a steam vaporizer may not be the best choice.
The Health Benefits
All humidifiers, whether ultrasonic, evaporative or steam-based, have a myriad of health benefits for you and your loved ones. These wellness benefits range from reducing allergy symptoms to improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Here are a few key benefits of regular humidifier use:
- Rehydrate dry, dull skin
- Hydrate dry, cracked lips
- Improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Improve congestion and sinuses
- Ease irritation from a dry, itchy throat
- Improve symptoms of the common cold
- Reduce the survival rate of airborne viruses
- Help to reduce congestion and improve breathing in babies
- Improve dry, itchy, and flaky scalp
- When paired with essential oils, humidifiers can have a therapeutic effect
An additional perk of using a humidifier in your home is the wonderful effect it has on house plants! Most plants thrive when exposed to healthy home humidity levels between 30 and 50%.
A humidifier is a great tool to keep in the most commonly used rooms of your home.