Saturday, December 21, 2013

Vaporizer vs humidifier

A lot of folks who live in San Francisco keep their homes fairly cool  (I can hear my out of town visitors laughing at that understatement while thinking about shivering in their long underwear and never taking their coats off while visiting my house)
Recently the weather got cold enough that even the most stubborn of us cranked up the heat.
When the heat is on, the air gets terribly dry and getting out the Humidifier/ Vaporizer will make sleeping much more comfortable.
If you have sparks and static electricity in your house or apartment, I am talking to you.

Humidifying the air is also one of the first things I recommend for patients who have colds/ cough and congestion. I find it essential for kids with Croup and RSV (both of which are going around).
Does somebody in your family snore? Humidifiers may help that as well.  

Vaporizers and Humidifiers essentially do the same job, but they have a few differences that you should be aware of.

Vaporizers heat the water to make steam.
The downside for them is the potential for getting burned (and it does happen, trust me, I get the calls)
Burns can happen from contact with the hot water or from getting too close to the steam.

On the other hand, Vaporizers have LESS change for growing bacteria (still change the water please)
On a cold night, I find the warm mist more comforting.

Humidifiers use a cold mist.
A humidifier has a greater chance of growing bacteria if not cleaned properly.
Many units also strongly suggest using distilled water so that you don't get a white coating of minerals from hard tap water..

There are a lot of great machines out there with huge price ranges. I have seen some for under $30.
If you are just going to bring out the machine for the occasional cold symptoms, you should be fine with an inexpensive machine.

If you think that you are likely to use it more often, you may want to invest in a more expensive unit.
(This is a great way to use one of the Bed Bath and Beyond coupons)

There are tons of sites out there that rate different machines. I do not have a favorite. 

A few Features that I would pay attention to would be the ease of cleaning and an auto shut off.
Some machines give you the choice of hot or cold. 

Regardless of which type you use, we don't want to keep the rooms overly damp. In San Francisco you can grow mold very quickly.
Don't run the machines 24/7..Make sure you turn them off during the day and dry up any dampness on walls or around windows.
Also don't be lazy. Change the water and clean your machines appropriately according to the directions.


  1. I did not realize there was a difference between vaporizers and humidifiers. This is some good knowledge to know though, should I ever find myself in the need of distinguishing. By the way, you have an adorable golden retriever there.

  2. I loved having a humidifier. It helps me get through sicknesses especially sinus infections. I am so glad that I have it.

  3. I know you're supposed to use either a vaporizer or a humidifier for babies when they are little. I think it's a humidifier, but I'm not sure. You mentioned that it's easier for humidifiers to develop bacteria, how often should you be cleaning the humidifier to make sure that doesn't happen? I want to buy one for my pregnant sister, but I don't want to get something that will be difficult for her to take care of.
    Claudia Rosenburg |

  4. A lot of folks who live in San Francisco keep their homes fairly cool (I can hear my out of town visitors laughing at that understatement while ...

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  9. You can use a fan to keep the air cycling and not stagnate

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