What’s the Difference Between a Humidifier and a Purifier

There are many devices for home air control on the market and it may be difficult to know which is which and what they do. So here you can read what the difference is between a humidifier and a purifier. Keep reading.

A few words about air humidifiers

An air humidifier is a device designed to release some extra moisture in the room air. This can be beneficial for children and for adults who have congestion and this has benefits for the skin. So humidifiers are designed only to control the humidity level in a room, no more and no less. But these devices can improve air quality and can help in reducing the numbers of particles and germs in the air, more about this farther in the text.

Humidifiers work on a variety of principles, so you have cool mist humidifiers, warm-mist humidifiers, and there are some that can release both. They can be simple evaporators with or without a fan, or they can work on ultrasonic principle with a membrane that vibrates at very high frequencies, and this releases mist in the air.

In the case of water that contains a lot of minerals, such ultrasonic humidifiers will produce what people usually describe as “white dust”, most of the time this is just limestone. This can be prevented by using distilled water or use a demineralization cartridge.

In heated rooms you may experience low humidity, so this is of importance in winter when it may drop to as low as 10% only. But it may occur in other seasons as well in hot, dry, or desert climates. This may have adverse health effects like drying out mucous membranes in the nose and throat, and this can cause respiratory distress.

There are static electricity problems where humidifiers may help. The static buildup is stronger in dry air, and it rarely occurs when humidity is above 55%.

About air purifiers

On the other hand, an air purifier is designed to make the air cleaner. There may be dust particles in the air, mold, pollen, germs, chemical molecules, etc. So the basic design of a purifier is such that it forces the room air through the device and then these undesired components are separated and deposited in the device, and clean air leaves the device.

If you suffer from allergies, it is necessary that all the air in the room circulates through the device several times per hour. This implies that the device must have a fan, and this means it needs power. So this adds to the cost. In addition to this, dependent on what such devices target, there must be a filter inside that collects the harmful ingredients from the air.

This video demonstrates how an air purifier forces the room air to circulate and it cleans it in the process:

Air humidifier vs air purifier – do you really need both a humidifier and a purifier?

So you realize, these air purifiers typically have some maintenance cost that is not negligible. The same holds for air humidifiers, this all depends on the type. But there are some clever designs on the market that allow you to save money.

You can have 2-in-1 devices, a humidifier and a purifier in one device. Now, this sounds too good to be true, so are there really such things? The answer is yes there are. You can see these three to realize what I am talking about:

  • Honeywell HCM350B Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier: This is an incredibly affordable item with UV technology that kills germs, and it has a filter that wicks clean water, and a fan that forces the vapor in the air. The device is very affordable, it works with tap water so there are no extra expenses for this, but it has a filter that needs replacement. So if this is an issue for you, check the following option below.
  • BONECO Humidifier Air Washer W300: Now, this is a clever design without any filter. In fact, the water itself acts as a filter. Yet another good feature here is that it works with ordinary tap water. But it costs more than the device mentioned above. The same clever filter-less design is also in this Venta LW25 Airwasher 2-in-1 Humidifier and Air Purifier.

As you see, it does not have to be air purifier vs air humidifier, you can have both in one device.

I mentioned above that humidifiers can actually be useful against germs in the air. Details are described in my separate text, and here I will only point out the following:

It is scientifically proven that (at least some) viruses cannot survive long in a properly humidified air. The perfect relative humidity level turns out to be around 50%. But at a much higher humidity level, they survive longer, and the same holds if the air is dry.

Yet another reason for having this ideal humidity is that in dry air particles and other pollutants are lighter. Microbes can attach to such pollutants and they can be carried through the air to larger distances. More in my separate text. You might want also to see our separate list with best rated air purifiers for home. If you are not sure how to choose your air humidifier, please check our separate text, it may help.

Thank you for reading. This site is all about home air control, so please look around, also bookmark this site and visit occasionally. In the case of questions and comments please use the comment box below.

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