As the crisp autumn air creeps in and temperatures begin to drop, people will begin to experience classic symptoms of drier air. Understanding the significance of indoor humidity will play a large role in your ability to maintain good health this season. I know indoor humidity might not be a topic you generally give much thought to but I urge you to rethink that decision this year.
When humidity is too high or too low it can create health problems for individuals. Low humidity, a common problem in the fall and winter, can lead to issues like dry skin, chapped lips, and sore throats. Low humidity literally creates dry air which makes the air feel colder than its actually is. On the flip side, high humidity can encourage growth of pathogens like mold, fungus, dust mites, and bacteria. Striking a healthy balance is key. Experts recommend keeping an indoor relative humidity between 30% and 50% depending on the climate of the area.
If you have no clue about the current state of your indoor humidity, I highly recommend purchasing an inexpensive Humidity Monitor like this one from AcuRite. A hygrometer measures water vapor levels in the air. I like this one because it cost less than $10.00, keeps track of the temperature, measures the humidity, and even flat out states whether you will be “OK” or not. Haha
My journey and interest in humidifiers began this past winter while I was in Spain. When Jorge wasn’t feeling well, we went out to buy a humidifier. We took home an ultrasonic one from El Corte Inglés. Once we filled it up with water and plugged it in, it quickly and quietly began releasing a fine gentle mist into the air. So cute, I thought! That very same night, and I will never forget this moment, I was sound asleep when I heard Jorge say, “Oh my god.” I’m a very heavy sleeper so it must have been the concern and urgency in his voice that woke me up before I groggily asked him, “Hey, what’s wrong?” When I opened my eyes, I was mystified. “WHOAAAA!!!!! WHAT IS THAT!? WHERE ARE WE!?” I was so confused!
I had opened my eyes to a fog so thick it honestly looked like our bed was placed in the middle of a rainforest. I am not even exaggerating – it was UNBELIEVABLY strange. In the dark moonlit room, it felt as though we were suddenly floating on a mattress in outer space. You could see the glistening mist swirling all around us like little twinkling stars dancing across the night sky.
What an incredible sight that was. I could make out Jorge but that was about IT. I couldn’t even see the sheets at the end of our bed. Nothing was visible beyond the mist. We started laughing and needless to say, we shut off the humidifier right away. I don’t think we ever set that thing on high ever again.
When I got back to New Jersey, I decided I wanted my own humidifier. I started researching the different types that exist. That was when I learned that you can buy vaporizers, cool mist, warm mist, and ultrasonic humidifiers. Each of the four types has different pros and cons.
At the time, I thought a filtered Cool Mist humidifier made the most sense so that is what I ended up purchasing for $35.00.
The setup was fairly simple. There was a removable jug that you’d need to refill each morning. On the inside, you’d insert a wick filter directly under a fan which would soak up the water and serve as a mesh to help the water evaporate into the air more quickly. What I didn’t realize about cool mist humidifiers is that you don’t see the mist. You actually won’t even feel much of a difference when it is running. The only way I could validate that it was in fact operating correctly was by purchasing the AcuRite humidity monitor. That and by the empty jug I’d wake up to each morning.
Watching the filter do its job over time was an interesting process to witness. (My apologies in advance for the gross photo to follow.) I knew Rutgers had hard water but I didn’t realize just how much the minerals and junk in the water would build up on the filter. After just a few days of use, my wick began to look more like this:
I eventually ended up having more problems with the device. The wick replacements smelled bad and it gave me nothing but problems. I decided to package it up and never use it again. No more Cool Mists for me. I considered buying an Ultrasonic humidifier afterwards but I read several reports online explaining that due to the technology they use, the high frequency vibrations propel water into the air along with the minerals and whatever else is mixed in with the water. People reported finding a fine white powder on surfaces across their rooms after extended usage from the calcium and other minerals that occur in hard water. With people reporting both breathing problems and mineral dust, I determined it was best to only use distilled water with an ultrasonic humidifier. Since that was too inconvenient for my purposes, I moved on to the next option.
For a mere $15.00, Target sells Vicks Vaporizers which are very much similar to warm mist humidifiers. They operate in a similar manner although they do differ from actual warm-mist humidifiers. Vaporizers work better in small to medium sized rooms. They produce warm, visible vapor that appears as steam. A boiling process removes impurities, releasing nothing but clean moisture into the air. Vaporizers are compact and cost effective but lack a removable tank for easy refilling like warm mist humidifiers possess. Although the steam from a vaporizer can be quite hot compared to warm mists, I don’t particularly mind this for occasional usage during colder seasons.
WarmSteam Vaporizers help people breathe and are especially effective if you’re dealing with a cold or congestion. Yes, if you use it continuously for too long you’ll basically turn your room into a stream room. Unless you’re actually sick, you probably don’t want that. Although if you want to visit the misty jungle like I did, this thing probably has enough power to transport you there. I haven’t tested that out yet but it might happen by chance one night. I kind of want to go back one day.