There is a lot of buzz surrounding humidifiers, especially during the winter months when we would do anything to combat the dry, winter air. What is a humidifier? What does a humidifier do? And, what is a humidifier used for, really?
Think of this article as a beginners course in humidifiers or “Humidifiers 101,” if you will. We will answer all of your burning questions regarding humidifiers and, hopefully, make sense of the hype.
So, What Does a Humidifier Do?
A humidifier elevates humidity levels in a home space. Sounds simple. But, in order to holistically answer the question: “What does a humidifier do?” we must first define humidity.
What is Humidity?
Humidity is the total amount of water vapor in the air. When water vapor levels are high, the humidity is high, and the air feels damp or wet. When water vapor levels are low, there is low humidity, and the air feels dry.
High levels of humidity create a breeding ground for mold, dust mites, vermin, and bacteria, which can be harmful to your health. In addition, high humidity can cause overheating, headaches, and feelings of lethargy.
Low levels of humidity are equally harmful and may cause the following symptoms:
- Dry, scratchy, or itchy throat
- Nasal congestion and bloody noses
- Dry, itchy, red, or inflamed skin
- Dry scalp and lackluster hair
- Dry, red, or watery eyes
- Increased static electricity in your home
- And more.
The recommended humidity range for a household is 40% to 60%, which will provide sufficient moisture for comfortable living.
How Does a Humidifier Work?
There are 3 categories of humidifiers: cool mist humidifiers, warm mist humidifiers, and whole house humidifiers. To answer the question “how does a humidifier work?” we need to present each type of humidifier separately.
Cool Mist Humidifiers
A cool mist humidifier releases a cooled mist into the surrounding environment, which has a slightly cooling effect. Cool mist humidifiers are further categorized into ultrasonic humidifiers and evaporative humidifiers, each one with slightly different mechanics.
The ultrasonic humidifier releases cool mist into your home by vibrating a metal diaphragm in the water tank at ultrasonic speed. The speed of the vibration creates small water droplets, which are pushed through a nozzle and released into your home. Ultrasonic humidifiers are very quiet and used frequently in nurseries.
The evaporative humidifier operates a lot like a standing fan. Evaporative humidifiers suction air from the room into the device, pass the air through a moistened wick, and fan the resulting mist back into the room.
Warm Mist Humidifiers or “Vaporizers”
A warm mist humidifier, otherwise known as a “vaporizer,” releases warmed mist into the surrounding environment. The warm mist humidifier uses electricity to boil water in the water tank, which creates a vapor. The vapor is funneled through a spout and released into the room resulting in a warm mist. Vaporizers are most often used to humidify rooms during the winter months as a result of their warming effect.
Note: the AAP advises against the use of warm mist humidifiers in nurseries and children’s rooms. Warm mist humidifiers are considered a burn risk.
Whole House Humidifiers
A whole house humidifier or a “central humidifier” is a humidifying device that connects directly to your HVAC system. The whole house humidifier works similarly to an evaporative humidifier, but can effectively humidify the entire home, depending on the central humidifier’s output.
What is a Humidifier Used For?
What is a humidifier used for? First and foremost, a humidifier is a handy tool during the winter months when “winter xerosis,” or dry, winter skin is a common condition. Why is that?
The skin releases water into the atmosphere in a process called Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL). TEWL is lethargic in the summer months when the high humidity keeps skin damp or most; higher humidity levels slow TEWL since the air is already completely saturated with water. TEWL accelerates during the winter months when the air is devoid of moisture causing the skin to dry, crack, itch, and more. In addition, central heating, air conditioning, and regular use of the fireplace in your home can affect TEWL and exacerbate dry skin conditions.
Humidifiers are incredibly beneficial during the winter months when the body loses moisture faster than it can be replaced. Humidifiers release moisture into your home space, reducing the speed of TEWL and subsequently increasing the moisture content of your skin.
The Benefits of Regular Humidifier Use
The answer to the question “what is a humidifier used for?” is multifaceted. While humidifiers are most commonly used to restore dry, dehydrated skin during the winter months, there are countless benefits of regular home humidifier use. These benefits include:
- Improved skin hydration
- Reduced signs of skin aging including: fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet
- Rehydrate dry, cracked, or peeling lips
- Improve dandruff or dry scalp
- Improve overall appearance and condition of hair
- Improve symptoms of the common cold and the flu
- Reduce survival rate of airborne pathogens and bacteria
- Reduce snoring and improve overall sleep quality
- Reduce or eliminate morning congestion and dry, scratchy throat
- Improve breathing in babies and reduce common nasal congestion
- Improve dry skin and eczema on babies
- Increase survival rate of houseplants and improve overall health and appearance
- Improve condition of wood furnishings and wood foundations in the home
Canopy Humidifier is a no-mist, anti-mold humidifier with built-in aroma diffusion and easy to clean components. Canopy Humidifier features unique technology that stops mold from growing in the water tank. In addition, smart sensors keep your device running until the unit is completely dry and a disposable paper filter traps any remaining contaminants from entering the hydrated air stream.The Canopy Humidifier can effectively humidify up to 500 square feet featuring 3 fan speeds that allow you to control how you humidify. With a 36 hour run time and dishwasher safe components, Canopy Humidifier is low maintenance and easy to use.