Warm Mist Vs Cool Mist Humidifiers – Which Works Better?

These days, you can choose from different humidifier options. Which one will work for you? Should you purchase a cool mist humidifier or a warm mist humidifier?

warm mist vs cool mist humidifiers

In this article we will explore the differences, and the pros and cons of these two popular choices. We will also provide sound advice to help you make the right choice for your situation. Read on to learn more.

Table Of Contents

Why Buy A Humidifier?

A high quality humidifier can improve air quality in your home, and greatly benefit your health and quality of life. Consistent humidifier use brings a great deal of relief to people suffering from allergies, sore throats, bronchitis and asthma. However, it can pose as a boon for people of average health.

Proper humidity levels can help relieve dry eyes and nasal passages and dry skin. Furthermore, humid air feels warmer than dry air, so maintaining adequate humidity can help you feel more comfortable in the wintertime.

If you have a baby in your home, a humidifier will help your little one stay healthy, comfortable and content. Maintaining correct humidity helps prevent nosebleeds, eases breathing, and can loosen congestion and speed recovery from a cold.

What To Look For Warm Mist vs Cool Mist Humidifiers

When seeking just the right humidifier to suit your needs, consider a number of factors. Among them include:

  • Price
  • Climate
  • Season
  • Purpose
  • Room size
  • Effectiveness
  • Operating costs
  • Room temperature
  • Child and pet safety
  • Auto Shut-Off

When you weigh all the variables, you may conclude needing more than one humidifier or perhaps a combination warm mist/cool mist model.

Categories Of Humidifiers

When you shop for humidifiers, you will find a few no-frills, traditional options available. On the other end of the spectrum, you will find models that incorporate digital controls, wi-fi, and a number of other high-tech features. Do you need or want all those bells and whistles? Understanding your choices can help you decide.

The Holmes Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo Whole-House Humidifiers may serve as a decent choice for your many types of households.

Features of a Warm-Mist Humidifier

We will discuss about four types of humidifiers: warm-mist, cold mist, ultrasonic, and evaporative humidifiers.

As the name would imply, this type of humidifier creates an initially warm mist by heating water to produce steam. Unfortunately, any time you deal with hot water, you may acquire scalds and burns. Due to this, warm mist humidifiers do not present some safety concerns.

On the other hand, there are some advantages to heating the water as the mist that is delivered from this type of humidifier is less likely to be contaminated by bacteria and household mold. For this reason, these humidifiers get high marks in terms of healthy use.

Warm mist models tend to operate quietly or even silently. You may occasionally hear the water gurgling or simmering. This type of unit adds a small amount of warmth to the surrounding area, and this can provide either an advantage or a disadvantage depending upon the season.

Just as with any appliance that uses water, mineral buildup is likely, and you must stay vigilant to keep your unit in good operating condition.

When choosing a warm mist model, you can consider water vaporizers and steam humidifiers. Of the two, vaporizers do a better job of filtering minerals out of the resulting steam.

Some models require demineralization cartridges intended to capture minerals and prevent their dispersion into the air and scattered over the surrounding area. Purchase of these cartridges will add to cost of operation somewhat.

Different warm mist models comes available in a variety of sizes, including small, portable humidifiers. No matter what the size, you can expect warm mist humidifiers to price slightly higher than their cool air counterparts. Additionally, you can expect to pay more for ongoing operation because it takes more electricity to heat the water.

It is important to understand that warm mist models actually bring the water in the reservoir to a full boil to produce steam. This makes a good reason why this type of unit can cause danger. Although the warm steam emission may add a small amount of heat to room humidifiers, it does not provide enough benefit, and this consideration should play as a major factor when making your choice.

The safety factor in regards to warm air humidifiers should not become overstressed. These models does not appear good for homes with children or pets who might tend to knock the unit over. If you use warm mist humidifier in a home with kids and/or pets, it should remain safely stored out of reach with no trailing electrical cords.

Features Of Cool-Mist Humidifiers

With a cool mist humidifier, the water in the tank and the mist stay at room temperature. This eliminates the risk of burns and scalds. This type of humidifier does an equally good job of raising humidity levels. However, it is not as good at delivering contaminant-free mist. For this reason, you must exercise extra care when keeping your cool mist unit clean.

If neglected, you can make sure your cool mist humidifier will become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. However, both warm and cool mist models should cleaned daily. For this reason, with proper the care, the risk of contamination not grow with cool mist models than with warm mist ones.

When selecting a cool mist model, you can pick from a couple of choices: Ultrasonic and Evaporative. These two models operate differently but deliver very similar results.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

Ultrasonic humidifiers operate very quietly because they use ultrasonic vibrations to break water down into tiny droplets that are dispersed as a very fine, cool mist. Some ultrasonic units also offer a warm mist option just like this product from Taotronics.

On the downside, this mist will contain any minerals present in the water filling the unit. With the passage of time, these minerals will become apparent as a fine white dust mites distributed over surfaces in the area surrounding the humidifier. This dust is not harmful, but it can be an annoyance and a cleaning challenge. [source]

Evaporative Humidifiers

Evaporative cool mist humidifiers use a fan and a wick filter to add humidity to the air. It holds the water in a bowl-like reservoir and the wick draws it up. A fan blows over the wick to distribute the moisture into the air. This is a very simple design, but it is effective. On the downside, operation can be a bit noisy because of the fan.

Either of these cool mist options will serve as a very good choice for continuous use when humidifying large rooms and open areas. Of the two choices, ultrasonic models work more like warm mist models, and indeed, some deliver both cool and warm mist.

Different cool mist models comes available in a wide variety of sizes, including small, portable models. Usually they are less expensive to buy and to operate due to the lack of heating element. As mentioned, the fact it does not involve heat makes this type of humidifier the safer choice, especially in homes with children and pets.

In this category, you can try the Ultrasonic Cool Mist Vase Humidifier.

Although cool mist models are cheaper to buy and to power, you must remember that with evaporative models, you will need to purchase and replace wick filters frequently.

The fan needed to operate evaporative models such as the AIRCARE EP9 500 may sound a little noisy. Additionally, it may cool the surrounding area a bit, and this can be either an advantage or a disadvantage depending upon the season.

What Is The Best Humidifier For Breathing Therapy?

People with bronchitis or asthma and those who suffer from chronic allergies often find great relief through constant use of a cool mist humidifier. These humidifiers help purify the air and make breathing much easier.

You can use a warm mist humidifier constantly, but not without paying for an additional cost. Most people find that type of humidifier in small areas for temporary use. For example, an adult with a cold or flu want to make breathing easier while they sleep, a warm mist humidifier at their bedside can help keep them from coughing all night. It also adds an especially cozy and comforting sensation in the wintertime. [source]

Some warm mist humidifiers such as this item from Vicks, delivers mentholated medications or essential oils to help treat and ease your symptoms. Check the instructions on the unit you purchase before adding anything to the water, though.

If Your Baby Has A Cold, What Will Work Best – Cool Or Warm Mist?

When choosing a humidifier for use with children, you are usually better off choosing a cool mist model for safety reasons. The steam emerging from a steam vaporizer or warm mist humidifier can burn. In case of an accidental spill, the hot water can also cause a burn.

Using a humidifier for a child or adult with a cold is a good idea because keeping the air moist can help alleviate congestion and coughing. You’ll be happy to know that both cool and warm mist humidifiers deliver equal results.

Even though the mist heats up when it emerges from a warm mist humidifier, when it gets dispersed into the air and breathed in, it exudes the same temperature regardless of whether it came from a warm or cool mist model. For this reason, you can count on a cool mist unit to safely benefit your child just as much as a warm mist unit.

How Do You Choose?

After assessing your situation and weighing all the pros and cons, you may decide that you don’t want to choose. You might decide to purchase a model that offers both warm and cool mist function. [source]

There is certainly no law that says you cannot have a warm mist humidifier in your bedroom and a cool mist humidifier in your living areas. You can always use one type in winter and the other in summer.

Choose cool mist when you want continuous humidifying in a large area with a warm ambient temperature. Remember that cool mist is always the best choice in settings where children or pets are present.

Choose warm mist when you want focused humidifying in a small space with a cooler temperature. Remember that warm mist humidifiers are best used by responsible adults, and always place your humidifier in a safe place where it is not likely to be knocked over.

Remember that your needs may vary from season to season. In wintertime, a warm mist unit may seem perfect, but in summer you may appreciate the light, cool air emitted by a cool mist model.

Tips For Safe Humidifier Use

Below list includes a few general tips for safe operation of any humidifier. Always read the instructions coming with your unit. Follow them closely when cleaning, using and storing the machine.

  • Avoid using an extension cord and be sure any electrical cord is secured to prevent tripping hazards and possible electrocution.
  • Always keep a cool or warm mist humidifier out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Be sure to allow the unit to dry thoroughly before placing it in storage.
  • Change filters and/or demineralization cartridges on a regular basis.
  • Never place the humidifier on an unstable surface.
  • Unplug the unit before cleaning or adding water.
  • Clean your humidifier daily.

Do not add anything to the water reservoir unless the user’s manual specifically says that this is safe. Additions such as vapor rub and essential oils can cause plastic parts to disintegrate, thus increasing the risk of accident or injury.

You will love this VicTsing 300ml Cool Mist Humidifier Ultrasonic Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser. Check here for essential oil diffusers.

Good Maintenance Is Key

For maximum effectiveness of any humidifier, you must remember to clean scrupulously. Wash it thoroughly after every use to prevent the buildup of minerals, mold and bacteria. If you leave any humidifier standing idle with water inside, when you turn it on you will surely be dispersing contaminants into the air.

If you use a humidifier on an ongoing basis, you should remember the household task of emptying its water tank and dry all of the surfaces daily. Fill the reservoir with purified, distilled water or filtered tap water to help reduce mineral buildup.

The Bottom Line

Cool mist models serves as the more modern choice when deciding between cool and warm mist humidifiers. They work safer and more versatile, less expensive to purchase and to use and just as effective. Still, there is something comforting about the warm steam delivered by a warm mist humidifier. This is especially true when you are under the weather in the dead of winter.

In the final analysis, either choice is a good one with proper consideration. Refer to the tips and advice presented here when choosing just the right humidifier (or combination of humidifiers) to suit your needs.