When trying to choose a vaporizer or humidifier for protection against cold climates, allergies, nosebleeds or any sort of cold symptoms, it is important to understand the differences between the mode of operation of these appliances. A vaporizer is just like a warm mist humidifier in that it heats water to release vapor. Inhalants like Vicks VapoRub can also be added to vaporizers and certain humidifiers to ease congestion. They are especially useful for babies.
edit Mode of Operation
Humidifiers are appliances that are used to humidify or moisten the air in a room. During cool climates, when the air becomes dry and breathing becomes difficult, a humidifier releases cool vapors and releases moisture to the room. The cool water vapors are created by using a rapidly turning disk, submerged in water.
Vaporizers add humidity to the air by creating steam. Water is boiled in a vaporizer and hot vapors are emitted into the room. Inhalants can be added to the vaporizer device but this cannot be done to the humidifier.
Neither humidifiers nor vaporizers really purify the air as such.
There are several types of humidifier. A central humidifier can be hooked up to the house’s heating equipment, receiving water directly and humidifying the whole house, while a tabletop or room humidifier is smaller and must be filled manually. Varieties also include evaporative, which capture all minerals and pollutants, ultrasonic, which create vapor using sound waves, and cool mist, which use a spinning disk and are both cheaper and more common.
Varieties of vaporizer include portable vaporizers (which can be handheld) and electric vaporizers that plug into the mains. Vaporizers are also classified by the way they heat the substance:
- by thermal conduction
- by convection
- by thermal radiation
Humidifiers and vaporizers are both used to add humidity to a dry room. They combat excessive dryness in winter, preventing build-up of static electricity and dry skin and lips, and helping to prevent infants and young children from developing breathing problems and infections due to the dry air. They can also help relieve the symptoms of allergies or the common cold, and in some cases those of asthma or bronchitis.
Both humidifiers and vaporizers can help ease allergies. Some people find the cool mist produced by a humidifier easier to tolerate.
Medication such as VapoRub can also be added to vaporizers to help ease breathing.
Humidifiers can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, especially when relative humidity is over 60%. Humidifiers should be cleaned every day. They can also disperse minerals in tap water, and so should only be used with distilled water. A vaporizer does not carry such risk because it boils water before emitting vapor. Mold and bacteria are destroyed when the water boils. Steam also does not contain minerals.
Vaporizers are dangerous when children are around since boiling water could spill when knocked over and cause physical damage. Hot steam could also prove hazardous to those who are ignorant of the fact.
Both vaporizers and humidifiers must be cleaned every day.
In general, humidifiers are more expensive than vaporizers. Humidifiers also need replacement filters or wicks.
edit Why Choose One Over the Other
People with young children may prefer a humidifier to a vaporizer, as vaporizers can cause scalds if knocked over. However, medication can be added to vaporizers, making them a good choice for those suffering with breathing difficulties.