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When is a Cool Mist Humidifier Right for You?

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A humidifier is undoubtedly a great way to add moisture to the air in your home during winter, but when it comes down to which model to get, the answer can get more complicated. Many of the decisions to make when choosing a humidifier come down to personal needs, from the size of the room you're treating to any extra features that you might find helpful. However, one major distinction can narrow down the options to choose from considerably.

Hot and Cold 
There are two broad categories to consider when shopping for a humidifier: warm mist or cool mist. As you might have guessed, the former uses heat to boil and disperse vapor, while the latter creates mist without heating the water first. Cool mist humidifiers work either by using a fan to evaporate water that's been pulled up into a wick or by using ultrasonic vibration to break water into small particles and disperse them into the air. Either way, they produce a cool vapor that raises a room's humidity but not its temperature. Cool mist humidifiers may even make the room feel a little cooler.

Where Warm Mist Differs 
Although the effects of warm and cool mist humidifiers are largely the same, there are some differences to keep in mind. For one, warm mist vaporizers often include a chamber to add medication that can be dispersed into the air with the steam. However, this benefit also comes with a potential drawback. Since a warm mist humidifier creates steam and is full of hot water, it may not be the best choice for rooms where children or pets are present. Although under normal circumstances the devices are safe to use, if the water is spilled it could create a hazard.

Keeping it Cool 
Cool mist vaporizers may be preferable in other circumstances as well. In dry, warm climates, you may want to humidify a room without heating it, making cool mist humidifiers a better choice. The two types of cool mist devices also carry some differences that could inform your choice.

Ultrasonic humidifiers are the quietest option, running with virtually no noise. Evaporative wick humidifiers tend to be the loudest, although many, such as the Holmes® Ultrasonic Humidifier, offer variable fan speeds that may cut down on the sound they produce. For those using a humidifier in the bedroom, this may be a crucial distinction. An ultrasonic humidifier could be the best choice for those who like to sleep in silence, while an evaporative wick humidifier might be more suitable for those who prefer a little white noise.