There certainly have been several technical advancements to what humidifiers are now able to affect and the scale. This is, obviously, quite different to what humidifiers were thought to be capable of. The electric fan was invented in 1892 by the simple expedient of fastening an impeller to the shaft of a motor, and the fan was the only electrically powered home appliance used for personal comfort in the first quarter of the 20th century. Large four-bladed fans turning slowly beneath ceiling-mounted motors circulated heat in winter and stirred up air for cooling in summer. Historically, the first iterations of humidifiers saw large bottles of specially distilled water being transported on carts for therapists and technicians to manually refill the humidifier available at that time, unfortunately this practice made bacterial cross-contamination more common than the medical community would like.
Things began to change when the first patent for a gas humidifier device was granted in 1934 to a F. A. Blashfield, a full two years after he first applied in 1932. Since then there have been steady improvements in the design and application of the humidifier which have improved upon the original idea behind its construction.
In the 1940s, refillable humidifiers were created by a threaded metal top and metal reservoir, making it, unfortunately, impossible for those put in positions to monitor the oxygen level to see where the water was in the reservoir. Afterwards, more patents were granted to companies who aimed to fix that particular problem.
Humidifiers like the Walton Cold Steam hospital humidifier which was described, at the time, as a centrifugal atomizer that provided high humidity in oxygen tents or hospital rooms. A true game changer as afterwards, all unheated hospital room humidifiers were referred to as cold steamers. Now remember the problem of not being able to observe where the water was in the reservoir that changed in the 1950s when oxygen humidifiers with refillable glass reservoirs were introduced. Humidifiers began to be recommended as supportive treatment for croup, bronchial asthma, poliomyelitis, bronchitis and other respiratory disorders so more cool vapor humidifiers found their way at the hospital bedside of those suffering from those ailments and needed a bit of help breathing.
In the 1970s as many hospitals switched over to single patient use, pre-filled, disposable humidifier reservoirs were introduced for convenience and an attempt at a reduction in cross-contamination. The MistO2Gen equipment company in 1978, trademarked the Humidilizer, a room humidifier which is seen as the precursor to the humidifiers currently on the market.
What are the different types of room humidifiers?
There are five general categories of room humidifiers available: cool mist, ultrasonic, evaporative, warm mist, and vaporizers. Complete with three variations from the general categories such as: airwashers and the ultrasonic, evaporative iterations from the cool mist set. Each has attributes that would work for each owner’s personal tastes. These qualities should be assessed before a purchase is made.
- Cool mist humidifiers – These humidifiers emit a cool vapor to add moisture to the air. They utilize a filter that captures water impurities and are easy to clean. They are used during warmer weather and in areas that experience a warmer climate. These humidifiers are easy to clean and generally require little maintenance. They are also able to add inhalants, making them ideal for cold and flu sufferers and helpful for people suffering from asthma and allergies. Cool mist humidifiers are also safer for children and pets and are generally quite cost effective.
- Ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers – these humidifiers rely on high-frequency vibration technology to dispense water droplets throughout the room. The vibration is silent and the moisture is expelled as a fine, cool mist. There is no heating involved, so there should be no worries about children or animals getting burn injuries from bumping into a unit and splashing boiling water on their skin.
- Evaporative cool mist humidifiers – they create an ultra-fine mist that’s released into the room. A fan inside the unit blows over a wick filter, allowing the room air to soak up the moisture and increase the humidity level.
- Ultrasonic Humidifiers – employs a metallic diaphragm that vibrates at high frequencies to create water droplets that are added to the air. They use very little energy and have no operating noise, so they are great to use overnight and in areas where someone wouldn’t want to increase noise.
- Evaporative Humidifiers – An evaporative humidifier operates much like a cool mist evaporator – it does not heat water to create humidity. It is a wick humidifier that uses a fan to circulate humidity. Evaporative humidifiers are, usually, portable and can be taken anywhere. They are also one of the cheapest humidifiers available and
they do not transfer salts in the forced air to the surrounding areas.
- Air Washers – help to clean the air while adding humidity to the room. They can remove different pollen and dust particles in the air. For air washers, they only have a cool mist option. Air Washers make cooling, humidification and dehumidification possible with just chilled water. This component can perform all three functions without much manual intervention and because it performs the tasks of three appliances at once, it saves space and reduces unnecessary clutter.
- Warm Mist Humidifiers – heat water to create vapor, which is cooled prior to being released. These systems are less likely to experience bacterial contamination because water is heated. Because the water is boiled before the vapor is released. The harmful particles of bacteria or mold are killed before the mist leaves the device. Warm mist humidifiers work best in small to medium spaces and the boiling process can create mineral deposits, making routine cleaning difficult. They are generally quiet when in operation.
- Vaporizer Humidifiers – A vaporizer may be either warm mist or cool mist. Inhalants can be added, making them a common choice to treat ailments. Proper humidification with a vaporizer can also reduce the irritation in a person’s nose, eyes and throat.
The moisture of the steam helps relieve coughing and reduce congestion in sinuses and the chest cavity. Vaporizers could also help people get a better night’s sleep, by keeping their nasal passages and throat moisturized.