The air we breathe can make a huge impact on our overall health. With the constant rise of pollution and so many people suffering from various allergies to sinus and respiratory issues, a device that will keep your air clean will make a huge difference in the quality of life for you and your children. But with some many choices on the market today, how do you know which one will meet your specific needs? Purifiers, humidifiers, and vaporizers all work wonders to help you breathe better, but they also work in their own way. We break down everything you need to know when it comes to keeping your air clean for the long-term health of you and your baby.

What Is An Air Purifier?

Air purifiers work to remove impurities that are floating around in the air. Dust mites, pollen, mold, and pet dander are all common things we might be inhaling every day, and if you have a medical/respiratory condition like asthma or allergies, you are at high risk of being affected. Reducing the amount of impurities in your environment will substantially improve air quality, making breathing easier and more comfortable.

Simply put, an air purifier is a filter, and right now there two types available: activated charcoal carbon filters, and HEPA (high-efficiency particle air) filters.

Carbon filters have a very porous surface which is used to absorb impurities such as gases and odors. VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) are gases that are present in all homes and should be paid attention to. Acetone, benzene, and butanal are the most common ones you will come across. While they can last a few years before needing replacement, and are effective at filtering out microbes (such as bacteria and viruses), there must be a large amount of carbon present to make a major difference in air quality.

HEPA filters, on the other hand, are a widely popular and more effective way to clean the air. Made out of fiberglass, they pull air through the filter to trap and eliminate airborne impurities. Microbes stick to the fiberglass until the filter is removed or cleaned. As long as they are washed every few months, HEPA filters can last a very long time.

As you can see, carbon filters can do things HEPA filters cannot, and vice versa. This has led to a lot of manufacturers now using a 1-2 punch in the fight for clean air, by combining carbon filters with HEPA filters. As each filter is specific to what they can remove, it leads to a more well-rounded purifier.

Advantages

  • Removal of More Microbes Due to Increased Air Circulation
  • Helps Protects Those With Respiratory Illness
  • Eliminates Cancer-Causing Gases and VOCs
  • Removes Allergens, Dust, Pet Dander
  • Removes Asbestos Particles
  • Elevates Mood and Reduces Stress Levels
  • Effective Against Contamination in Hospitals and Clinics
  • Reduction in Outdoor Pollutants
  • Improves Sleep Quality

Disadvantages

  • Potential Ozone Emissions
  • Under Performance on Budget Models
  • Costs Associated with Replacing Filters

What Is A Humidifier?

A humidifier is a device that helps you breathe easier by adding moisture to the air. These are great for people who have respiratory illness, dry skin, or live in dry climates. The original method of humidifying a room was to fill a pot of water and allow the liquid to evaporate into the atmosphere. Boiling water was another way to add some moisture to the room you were in. But there are now a variety of electronic humidifiers that use different technological advancements to help you breathe better.

Evaporator humidifiers are one of the most common and affordable portable humidifiers available. They replicate the “boiling water” humidifier but also take into account the white/grey dust that is produced when hard water is boiled. A filter in these humidifiers helps to remove this dust and the vapor is cooled by a fan, dispersing cleaner moisture. The drawback to this type of humidifier is that the filters eventually have to be replaced due to the hard water mineral deposits that accumulate over time.

Another portable option is the ultrasonic humidifier. These use high-frequency vibrations to produce mist, which is then disperse into the atmosphere. If you are a light sleeper, these are good options as they are very quiet, however, they will emit a bit of grey dust as their ceramic cartridge filters are less effective than a traditional filter. People also prefer these humidifiers as a “safer” option because they do not heat the water. The downside to this is that anytime you are not boiling water, you are risking sending out any bacteria that might be present in the water. It’s for this reason that most companies recommend you only use distilled water in your humidifier.

Other type of humidifiers include central humidifiers, which are hooked up to the plumbing in your home and then hardwired into your heating and A/C units, steam humidifiers, which can be added to your home furnace to pump moisture through the air ducts, and impellers, which use a spinning disc to diffuse droplets into the air.

Advantages

  • Can Track Humidity Levels
  • Reduce Snoring
  • Prevent Flu
  • Help Allergies
  • Provide Itch Relief
  • Improve Quality of Rest

Disadvantages

  • Cannot Treat Underlying Conditions
  • Cannot Filter Particles in the Air

What Is A Vaporizer?

Vaporizers for the home can also add moisture to the room you are in. These electric devices operate by heating the water to very high temperatures, resulting in the production of vapor. Most vaporizers are easy to fill and use, and many allow you to add a vapor formula to the water that helps with decongestion. Regular maintenance of the unit is recommended as they have no filter and tend to collect mold and residue in their basin. One of the criticisms of vaporizers is that they can get extremely hot to the touch because of the temperature required to turn liquid into vapor. If you are going with this option, keeping it out of reach (especially if you have children) is the smartest thing you can do.

Advantages

  • Quick Time to Steam
  • Can Add Decongestion Formula to Unit
  • Relieves Sinus Congestion
  • Relieves Dry Skin and Itchiness
  • Can Help People With Allergies
  • Improves Sleep Quality

Disadvantages

  • Unit Can Get Extremely Hot
  • Regular Maintenance
  • Higher Electricity Bill

Humidifier vs. Vaporizer Comparison

While humidifiers and vaporizers operate in a very similar way, there are subtle differences when deciding between the two.

Cleaning

Maintenance of both is pretty simple but because humidifiers have filters in them, they require a bit more attention. Cleaning either unit is easy enough with soap and warm water, but you will need to soak your filter in a vinegar solution to loosen the debris that has built up on it. A solution of two parts water to one part vinegar, soaking for about 45 minutes should do the trick. Vaporizers should be cleaned after every couple of uses to prevent mold and bacteria from growing in the basin, while humidifiers can be cleaned every few weeks, with the filter soaked every few months.

Safety

Both are electric devices, and both heat up water to create vapor, but humidifiers have an advantage in this category simply for the fact that they cool the air before they disperse it, and in turn, cool the unit itself. The knock on vaporizers is that they can become extremely hot when used for long periods of time. For this reason alone, most people gravitate toward humidifiers, as they have less potential be become a safety hazard.

Cost

You can find vaporizers and humidifiers in a wide range of prices, so if you are looking at both from that perspective, it’s a wash. Obviously if you are buying something that has more bells and whistles, the cost will go up. Some humidifiers can also hold a few liters of water compared to vaporizers. Again, that will factor into the cost. Where you will find large differences is in their long-term use. As vaporizers use high temperatures, they require more electricity to run, resulting in a higher utility bill for you. Some humidifiers, on the other hand, require filters that need to be changed out, which is an added cost. Having said that, if you spend the money up front on a quality humidifier that lasts long, and has a durable filter that doesn’t need to be changed very often, the humidifier will be the cheaper option in the long run.

How Do They Work For Allergies

When it comes to people with allergies or allergy-induced asthma, either vaporizers or humidifiers will provide comfort so you can get some rest. The trick is to find the right level of humidity. If you oversaturate the air with moisture, the chances of your room becoming a breeding ground for dust mites and mold greatly increases. Higher end devices will come with a gauge on the unit to show you the humidity level of a room. You want to aim for somewhere in the range of 40 – 50% to keep things balanced. When the air is too dry, it irritates your nasal passages which can lead to sinus infections. In addition, dry air can cause your body to create an overabundance of mucus, as well as itchy, dry skin, and can induce eczema flare-ups. Humidifiers and vaporizers will relieve allergy symptoms by keeping you nasal passages clear of mucus, resulting in unobstructed breathing so your body can expel allergens that you are exposed to.

Conclusion

Every day, your overall health is affected by what is put into your body. This isn’t just limited to food, but also the air you breathe – air that is getting more polluted with each passing day.

With a wide range of humidifiers, vaporizers, and air purifiers widely available, you can be sure that any purchase you make will improve your quality of life.