There are two main types of humidifiers: warm mist humidifiers, more commonly referred to as vaporizers, and then there are cool mist humidifiers. The core distinctions stem from the fact that humidifiers produce either warm or cool mist water vapor.
Warm mist humidifiers heat up the water inside them to produce steam, causing them to require the use of much more power to operate than cool mist humidifiers. During this heating process, bacteria and mold is kept under control, making it so that they don’t need to be cleaned as often as cool mist units.
Now let’s take a look at a cool mist humidifier.
When it comes to cool mist, these humidifiers tend to be safer, especially do the fact there is no heating element that can potentially cause a hot steam burn in homes with children and pets.
How to Clean a Humidifier
Cool mist humidifiers need to be cleaned regularly to prevent dispersing impurities into the air. Keep in mind that mineral deposits like lime and calcium can accumulate over time in any humidifier, which is why distilled water is recommended for use in cool mist humidifiers and any appliance that uses water to make vapor.
Mineral deposits typically take more than a modest wipe from a wet cloth. It is much more effective and safer to use white vinegar for the cleaning process by applying it to the stained location and allowing it to sit for several minutes so that the acid in the vinegar can break down the minerals and soften them up enough to be removed easily with a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse the unit thoroughly with distilled water and dry it off with a clean towel.
You will find that mist produced by a cool-mist humidifier is heavier and denser than the vapor that is produced by a warm mist humidifier. With that said, the cool mist does not spread across a large room as easily.
The cool mist will typically remain approximately within a five-foot radius around the humidifier unit. Ideal locations in your room to place cool mist humidifiers to add humidity to your personal space are nightstands near the bed for sleeping and on a table nearby where you sit while watching television or reading.
Warm mist, on the other hand, is lighter and will disperse more evenly when raising the humidity level throughout a whole room.
Ultrasonic refers to the sound waves that vibrate at a very high frequency above the level at which a human being can hear. This form of humidifier utilizes those ultrasonic vibrations of a ceramic diaphragm to generate micro-sized water droplets that are dispersed as a cool mist into the surrounding air.
The minuscule droplets evaporate rapidly into the air, increasing the relative humidity and the amount of airborne water vapor. Being that this is a cool-mist humidifier, remember to clean the unit frequently to prevent the water from enabling the growth of impurities and the buildup of calcium or other minerals.
Also known as wick humidifiers, evaporator humidifiers use a fan to draw air into the unit, which is then sent through a filter saturated with water that has been soaked up from a reservoir. This process causes the water to evaporate into the air inside the unit and then push out into the surrounding air in order to raise the humidity in the room.
Again, this type of humidifier must be cleaned regularly, and the filter (wick) needs to be replaced periodically to stop the buildup of impurities. An evaporative humidifier functions by sucking in air from the room, passing it through a moistened wick or filter to add moisture, and fanning this hydrated air back into the surrounding space.
Impellers have a rotating disc that sends water through a filter diffuser to create micro-sized water droplets that evaporate rapidly once ejected into the nearby air, similar to ultrasonic humidifiers. The filter inside of an impeller-type humidifier must be changed from time to time for efficient operation, as well as regular cleaning that is needed.
Steam Vaporizers Aren’t Cool Mist Humidifiers
Steam vaporizers don’t fall into the category of cool mist humidifiers. These are hot mist humidifiers that boil water in order to vaporize it. This hot mist is ejected from the unit due to the pressure that builds up inside in order to the expanding gaseous water vapor. The high temperature that is needed in order to boil the water keeps the unit free from bacteria and mold, and there is usually no mineral buildup.
Similar to other appliances that make use of water, humidifiers operate at their best with distilled water because ordinary tap water has minerals and impurities that can fester inside a humidifier over the course of time.
Minerals can also be found in many commercial bottled waters. But with the process of distillation, impurities and minerals can be removed from the water, making distilled water the top choice for humidifiers, just as it is for steam irons and fabric steamers.