Known for emitting vapour into the air to increase its moisture, vaporisers and humidifiers serve a variety of functions. Commonly used for colds and congestion, either can restore the moisture where it is otherwise quite dry. Any quality of air that contains humidity levels of below 30% can exacerbate or directly cause a number of health issues. Among these, dry skin, nose bleeds and the increase of static electricity within the home, which can affect respiratory health.
But what are the differences between the two? Are there any?
Although the two have the same objective, there are slight differences between the mechanics of each that might make one a more preferential solution over the other. For example, whilst both are designed to introduce moisture into the air, the way in which they achieve this is perhaps the biggest difference between the two. Humidifiers employ ultrasonic vibrations to emit cool mist into the air. By contrast, vaporisers do the same thing, but with the use of electricity, which uses a heating element to boil water and create steam. For this reason it is recommended that a humidifier be used in households where children and/or pets are, as the water from vaporisers can burn if spilled.
The chances of bacteria and mold build up are much higher in the humidifiers than they are in the vaporisers. This is simply because vaporisers boil the water, releasing it hot from the chamber, where humidifiers attract and release cool water, allowing simultaneously for germs to breed. Despite the significantly lower chances of bacteria growth in vaporisers, both require daily cleaning. Vaporisers are a little less high maintenance, requiring a thorough clean only weekly with the use of white vinegar, sometimes diluted with water, to deeply clean the tank. The same form of cleaning should be conducted daily for humidifiers, to prevent the build up of bacteria. Treated water is a preferred way of cleaning both, as it contains less contaminants. For the same reason, it is advised that filtered or distilled water is used to fill up the system, so that the chances of emitting bacteria into the air are reduced.
For the purpose of relieving cold and flu symptoms, it is possible to add medication to vaporisers, but not humidifiers. This will dictate the overall effectiveness of one over the other, specifically for this purpose. Essential oils can also be added to the water within a vaporiser, emitting fragrances into the air as it increases its humidity.
Whilst vaporisers and humidifiers are both incredibly effective for the emission of moisture back into the air, the minimal differences between the two might make a big difference to the household it is required for. The upkeep of humidifiers is certainly more strenuous, requiring more attention to its cleanliness so as to combat build up of bacteria, but is more child and pet friendly in its humidity-emitting procedures. The vaporisers do not demand such an intense focus on their cleanliness, but can pose a risk in the event of spills.