A major complaint in most households is that dry air causes a number of conditions associated with cold weather – from the sniffles to nosebleeds to skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema. Dry air also gives way to static in your hair, or sparks caused by touching something or someone.
Cold weather leads to dry air, and dry air leads to all these conditions. In order to put moisture back into the air, you must use a humidifier.
An effective humidifier will not just help reduce the ability of airborne viruses that cause colds and flu; it will also help give you softer and smoother skin.
Do you need a humidifier?
While you may have a clean bill of health, dry air caused by winter, your internal heating system and your closed windows does not create an optimal environment for your respiratory system.
Your doctor’s recommendation is one of the top reasons for getting a humidifier. However, even without medical reasons, it would still do you good to have a humidifier to improve your indoor air condition, especially during winter.
Here are some symptoms that suggest you need an effective humidifier:
#1 Frequent colds and sinus problems
Air that is too dry prevents your sinuses from functioning properly.
Adding moisture to the air helps your sinuses drain properly, easing congestion and other cold-related symptoms. A humidifier also helps in lubricating your nasal passages, thereby speeding up the healing process.
Dry air also becomes a haven for air-borne microbes like the influenza virus. The dryer the air, the easier it gets for these microbes to survive and infect more people in your household.
#2 Increased snoring
You snore when the air in your nose and throat cannot move freely during sleep. When this happens, the tissues surrounding the nasal cavity vibrate and thereby cause that all-too-familiar sound.
Dry air dries out the passages in the nose and the throat, thereby increasing the vibration of the tissues.
#3 Dry air
Dry air, especially heated outdoor air, causes a drying of the nasal membranes, causing irritation. When these passages dry out, crusts that cause itching can form. Picking and scratching these crusts can cause bleeding.
You can also get nosebleeds from frequently blowing your nose due to congestion, which is also an effect of dry air.
#4 Skin conditions
Allergies and other skin conditions tend to get aggravated when the air lacks moisture. During winter, you naturally spend more time indoors using internal heating, which leads to further drying of the skin.
If you or any family member has atopic dermatitis or another skin disease, then that is a clear indication that you need to get a humidifier. Why is this? When the weather is cold and dry, the moisture in your skin evaporates quickly, which is why your skin feels tight and dry and gets chapped and flaky.
#5 Cracked and damaged wooden furniture
Dry air causes wooden furniture to dry, just like your skin. Too much dry air can suck all the moisture out of your wooden furniture, causing it to split or crack.
Dry air does not just affect wooden tables and chairs; you can also find cracks in your wooden walls, experience gaps between doors and door frames and even see spaces between your once tight hardwood floors.
And don’t be surprised when your piano does not stay tuned; the lack of humidity in your home can cause that too.
#6 Too much static electricity
Static electricity is produced when electric charge builds up on the surface of different objects. This is usually caused by friction between objects, for example the soles of your rubber shoes and the carpet, which causes positive charges to build up on one surface, and negative charges on the other.
When the air is dry, more of these charges are produced, because dry air is highly insulating. So when the winter days come and you start getting shocked from touching things like doorknobs and even electronic gadgets, you need to go out and get yourself a humidifier.
Choosing a Humidifier
Deciding on the kind of humidifier to buy takes a lot of consideration. You shouldn’t just drive to the appliance store and choose the biggest, the prettiest or the most expensive model.
Humidifiers comes in all sizes and shapes, with features that address different needs and preferences. Some humidifiers fulfill basic functions while more advanced ones have more features that allow you greater flexibility and control.
As such, you must base your choice of humidifier on the following points:
#1 The size of the area to be humidified
Are you going to use the humidifier in your living area or bedroom? Is it going to be used in the nursery? The size of the room should be a big consideration in your choice of a humidifier. And it is never enough to just look at the size of the humidifier in the store; you must take great care in reading the specifications, the water capacity and the kind of output the humidifier gives.
If you are looking for a humidifier for your child’s bedroom, look for a model that is small yet powerful enough to disperse humidity throughout the entire room.
The same goes for bigger spaces like the living room. So before venturing out to the store, read reviews online so you can narrow down your choices and make better comparisons when you’re in the store.
#2 How you will use the humidifier
Do you need a humidifier that will serve as a permanent fixture in the house, or do you want one that you can move around and transfer from one room to another?
This should also be a point to consider in choosing a humidifier. You might want to opt for a more portable version if you intend to store the humidifier away for several months during the year.
#3 Specific features
Simple and basic humidifiers do one thing: converting water into vapor to moisten the air. On the other hand, there are more complex humidifiers with premium features that give you greater flexibility and control.
Some of these features include varying mist outputs, oscillating or rotating vents, timers and even auto shut-off features to prevent machine overheating and damage. There are battery-operated humidifiers, units with remote control or motion sensors and even models that come with a night light.
Knowing what other features you need from your humidifier will help you make the best choice.
#4 Ease of cleaning
Because they vary in size, shape and features, humidifiers also need different levels of maintenance. Basic models can be cleaned by swishing water and vinegar in the water tank, while more complicated units have filters that need regular replacement and cleaning.
Some units come with specialized brushes for cleaning, while others can be easily be placed in the dishwasher. There are also big humidifiers with built-in self-cleaning features.
Cool Mist or Warm Mist?
There are two general kinds of humidifiers based on the mechanism used by the machine to create water vapor to be dispersed in the air: warm mist humidifiers and cool mist humidifiers.
The warm mist humidifier works by heating up the water in the tank. The heat turns the water into soothing and comforting steam.
Warm mist humidifiers give the highest levels of moisture saturation and disperse less of unwanted materials like minerals, bacteria or molds into the air. However, this type of humidifier is not ideal for children’s rooms as the steam might sting and burn. Spills from water vaporizers can also cause burns.
On the other hand, cool mist humidifiers turn water into mist without using heat. There are two kinds of cool mist humidifiers:
This type makes use of an evaporative wick filter – usually made of absorbent paper-based material – which absorbs the water in the tank.
With the help of a fan, the unit blows air through the filter which then disperses the water that has evaporated from the filter. Since this humidifier type doesn’t use any heat, it is more likely to disperse bacteria and mold in the air, especially if the filter is not regularly washed and replaced.
Instead of using a fan that blows air through a water filter, this type of cold mist humidifier employs a metal diaphragm that vibrates at ultrasonic speeds to break down water into tiny droplets that form fine cool mist.
Unlike evaporative humidifiers and warm mist humidifiers, this kind uses less power and produces the least noise, making them ideal for nurseries. However, they can release a white dust formed of minerals that are present in the water, which can enter the lungs and cause respiratory diseases.
To prevent this, only distilled or filtered water must be used in humidifiers – no matter the type.
Both types of humidifiers give the same benefit: to humidify the air and provide relief from cracked lips, flaky skin, and cold and flu symptoms. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so it is up to you which type you think is best for your needs.
Top Five Cool Mist Humidifiers
The general consensus is that cool mist humidifiers are better than their warm mist counterparts because the way they operate does not involve heat that can cause burns especially to young children. Here are the top five cool mist humidifiers in the market today:
Breathe easy and sleep easy with this humidifier that safely adds moisture to indoor air for up to 16 hours.
Quiet and powerful, this ultrasonic humidifier has a water tank capacity of 1.5 liters, ideal for humidifying medium-sized rooms like bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. It has a 360-degree nozzle that allows you to control the direction of the mist.
It also comes with an auto shut-off feature that detects when the water level is low and shuts the unit down to prevent overheating and damage.
This model also comes with a night light that you can turn on or off, according to your mood and preference. Lightweight and portable, this cool mist humidifier can be transported from one room to another and will surely provide additional aesthetic value with its smooth and curvy design.
If you are a certified germaphobe who wants nothing to do with microbes (especially those that inhabit the air in your home), then this cool mist humidifier by Honeywell is perfect for you.
This model does not dispense just any kind of cool mist; it humidifies indoor air while making sure that none of the nasty fungi, mold spores, bacteria, or viruses present in the water get dispersed into the air you breathe in.
Using patented germ-killing UV technology, this humidifier cleans untreated tap water with its special UV light to make sure that all the microbes are destroyed.
The water which has been previously sanitized by the UV light then enters the Protec Antimicrobial filter which sifts through minerals and other particles, ensuring that the water that is dispersed is free of any impurities.
The unit has a water capacity of two gallons, allowing you to humidify any medium-sized room for up to 24 hours without the need to refill the water tank. And because it uses the QuietCare technology used in Honeywell’s products, you can be sure that it will operate 25 % quieter than your usual ultrasonic humidifier.
Made of a strong plastic material, the body of the Seneo Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is composed of (1) a removable and top cone which can be rotated to control the direction of the mist, (2) an opaque water tank that has a capacity of 2.3 liters, and (3) a base that serves as a water tray, where the control button and the oil tray are found.
Unlike other humidifiers, this machine also functions as an essential oil difuser that does not just humidify the air but also provides a soothing, relaxing scent. This feature is especially useful for patients and kids suffering from colds and congestion, as eucalyptus oil and other minty scents do wonders in clearing the nasal passages.
Aside from diffusing scents and dispensing cool mist, this brand and model also serves as a nightlight with varying colors you can customize. You can choose from one of the seven night light colors or set the lights to change while the humidifier is dispersing mist. If you are not in the mood, you can also opt to do away with the night light altogether.
You can also stop worrying if you have the right humidity setting, as this unit has a humidity sensor that you can set. When the humidity reaches the set level, the machine turns itself off and turns back on again when the humidity level in the room goes down.
If you want pure fresh mist to freshen and humidify the air in your home or office, it would be a good idea for you to get the TaoTronics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier.
This unit comes with a built-in microporous ceramic cartridge filter that never needs replacing. This filter allows the humidifier to dispense mist that is free of microorganisms and calcium and magnesium ions that cause white dust.
Even if it is an ultrasonic humidifier, you can make sure that it is safe for babies and even the elderly – no white dust flies into the air, so there would be no risk of mineral particles entering the lungs and causing respiratory problems.
This TaoTronics humidifier allows you to set the humidity level at an ideal range (45% to 65%), so the range is neither too low nor too high. You also have the option to control the mist output with the low, medium and high settings.
The humidifier also has a LED display that shows the level of humidity, a timer that enables you to set the humidifier to work up to 24 hours, and an automatic shut-off feature that turns the machine off when the water level runs low.
Solve your winter dry air problems with something as cool-looking and as funky as the Crane Drop Shape Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, with the variety of colors it comes in.
Although it is simpler compared to the other humidifiers in our list, it works effectively in humidifying indoor air. It works quietly and allows you to adjust the level of output of mist that you want.
It has a one-gallon water tank capacity, and allows you to humidify a medium-sized room for up to 24 hours without the need to refill the tank.
Easy to clean and maintain, this humidifier is perfect for people who have busy lives but still need the relief and benefits higher-end models can provide, at a cheaper and more affordable price.
It has an automatic shut off feature that turns the machine off when the water runs empty and a 360-degree nozzle that lets you direct the mist.