Actually, that isn’t the question. The real question is how to humidify.
Melanie Marie writes:
Oh wonderful, kind, pretty, wise Mir,
It is that time of year again when all my skin starts to crack and peel and I get sore throats at night from the lack of humidity in the air (not to mention the massive shocks I get when touching anything metal). Do you have any suggestions on how to find a quality humidifier for a reasonable cost? I donâ€™t have central air so I need a stand-alone unit. Any thoughts/ideas would be appreciated!
I must confess with a hanging head that I’ve had this question for a while. I was perplexed. I still am, actually.
Here’s the thing: I have allergies. My kids have allergies. And I have always bought the party line that humidity = mold. When my kids were babies, I owned a humidifier because they would periodically get that deep chest cough that scares the bejeezus out of new parents, the pediatrician would tell me to run a humidifier for them. I would run it as directed, and then go through the hassle and inefficacy of trying to clean it, and meanwhile each and every filter sported mildew the moment I brought them into the house, it seemed.
I am not a fan of humidifiers.
On the other hand, I know that ideal household humidity is between about 30% and 50%, with between 30%-40% being optimal for the cold winter months. When it’s too dry inside, our skin dries out, which is uncomfortable, but also our nasal passages dry out, which may make us more susceptible to illness. (See? Snot is actually useful.)
So, yeah. Sometimes you need to humidify your house.
My house is heated via forced hot water in baseboards, so I’ve not had to do much, here. Occasionally I’ll just boil off an extra pot of water on the stove or take a longer than average shower.
But if you need a humidifier, how do you go about choosing one? I rather like this quick rundown on About.com about things to consider. I can’t tell you “go buy this or that” because I don’t know how big your house is, whether or not you have allergy concerns, whether you prefer warm to cool mist, etc. But that piece will help you consider the various factors, as will this overview from Consumer Reports.
Now here’s where I’m going to say what no one wants to hear. A humidifier is one of those things where you get what you pay for. You can find a cheap tabletop unit, sure, but it’s going to get mildewy and it may not even produce the humidity level it promises. You can’t skimp on a purchase like this (much as I wish you could).
I went and checked out the options at Allergy Buyers Club, because they’re a good source on this sort of thing if you’re concerned about allergies (which I am). Even if you think you’re not concerned about allergy stuff, don’t be so quick to disregard the “allergy-safe” models. No one wants mold in their house, allergies or no.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. If there’s a humidifier expert out there, feel free to share. My advice boils down to “do some research and make sure you’re not buying your own personal mold swamp.” And that an a dollar will get you a cup of (lousy) coffee.