Warm Humidifiers: By Any Other Name Is A Vaporizer
Some people don't realize that the term warm humidifier is another way of referring to a steam vaporizer.
These simple machines have been around for a very long time. Most Baby Boomers probably remember having one in the house whenever a family member had a cold. Very often, they are associated with the smell of mentholated vapor rub, too.
Now days, they are called warm humidifiers and, often, warm mist humidifiers. But no matter what they are called, they are all the same thing. Though there are various designs, they all work the same way and have basically the same parts. A heating element boils water and releases steam into the air. The machine consists of a reservoir, heating element and often has a 'medicine cup' just under the steam outlet. Really a pretty basic machine.
The biggest change over the years has been in the water reservoir. There are still the standard single tank reservoirs that combines the boiling chamber and water reservoir in a single unit. But now there are machines that have a water reservoir that feeds into a separate boiling chamber. This allows for more water storage while at the same time, quicker vapor action because of the smaller boiling chamber. These machines can be set to run longer simply because they can hold more water. They also often have to settings, auto shut-off, and some even have night-lights.
Warm humidifiers are not very expensive compared to other types of humidifiers, especially ultrasonic humidifiers, which often produce both warm and cool mist humidity. A very basic steam vaporizer type can run very cheap at around $15-20 in many places. Good places to find these are Walmart, Target and your local grocery store often has them.
On the more expensive side, the larger water reservoir and boiling chamber warm humidifiers have quite a range in price. They can cost from $25 on up to about $100, depending on the size of the reservoir tank and other features. The different size reservoirs available range from one gallon to four gallons. Over the whole, the bigger the reservoir, the higher the price. But that doesn't always hold true. Sometimes the price is brand name driven. A machine with a well-known brand name that has a two gallon reservoir and cost significantly more than one with a four gallon reservoir that is not as well known.
There are a couple of drawbacks with warm humidifiers. The most important one is involves safety. The steam issuing from the machine is very hot, not just warm. It can burn adult skin and more seriously burn the skin of a young child. So it must be kept well out of reach of children when it is in use. The other drawback is that they are more expensive to run than cool mist and ultrasonic humidifiers.
For many people, steam, especially enhanced with mentholated vapor, seems to work best for opening up stuffy heads and keeping the air moist in winter when indoor air can be prone to dryness. As far as humidifiers go, warm humidifiers are the oldest technology and is still the most popular.