Wood-burning stoves can create some serious toastiness along with a real need for adding moisture to the air. If you're a wood-burning stove owner living a rural existence or are about to embrace the pioneer spirit by living off-grid, get familiar with some clever ways to humidify your humble abode. No matter how resourceful you are, it's a safe bet that you'll find something you haven't tried before.
Are Wood-Burning Stoves Always Drying?
Things can get dry when you use a wood burner, but its presence in your home is only part of the equation. The real cause of low humidity in homes with wood-burning stoves is the lack of weatherization, which is normally found in older homes or log homes. A new home that's effectively sealed has to have constant dehumidifying by way of a sufficient ventilation system that controls humidity produced by activities like washing and cooking. But older homes with wood burners and lots of spots where cold, dry outside air is sneaking in often need humidifying.
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If you use a wood stove, use a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your home. An ideal reading will fall between 30 and 50 percent. With humidity higher than 50 percent, condensation begins forming on interior surfaces, which can cause mold and harmful bacteria to grow. A reading below 30 is too low and can cause wood furniture and flooring to crack and wallpaper to loosen, in addition to irritated throat and nasal passages, nosebleeds, cracked lips, and dry, itchy skin.
Begin with some basic weatherizing. If humidity levels are still too low, experiment with some of these tricks until the level of moisture in the air begins to rise. You may find that you need to incorporate all of them into your daily activities to make a difference.
Create Steam Whenever You Can
When using your wood-burning stove, fill a tea kettle with water and set it on the stove to steam. Make sure you use a cast-iron kettle that can handle the heat. You can also buy decorative stove steamers that are made specifically for this purpose.
Boiling water on your kitchen stove is a very effective way to create steam, but don't forget to keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil dry. Whenever you can, cook foods that use boiling water like pasta, potatoes, or rice.
Your slow cooker can even be recruited to add moisture to your dry air. Fill it with water and place it on the high setting. Once the lid shows steam, remove it, turn it to the low setting, and let the steam do its work. Just don't leave an uncovered slow cooker unattended.
Double-Duty Cleaning and Bathing
Several daily kitchen, bath, and laundry activities can do more than leave things cleaner. After your dishwasher runs, open the door and let the dishes air-dry so the steam can help humidify. Leave your bathroom door open when you shower and, instead of immediately draining the tub after a bath, let the hot water cool before pulling the plug.
Do Some Humidifying Decorating
Needing to add moisture to the air in your house is the perfect excuse to buy a beautiful indoor fountain or add a unique water feature to your home. These can make a significant contribution to the humidity level. Just let your imagination and budget be your guide.
Fill your favorite decorative containers with water and place them all over the house — especially in windows on sunny days. Set them on elevated surfaces away from pets and children.
Houseplants expel most of the water they take in as water vapor through a process called transpiration. If you're already into plants, get some more to up that humidity level. If you've never had a green thumb, try some easy-care plants. Houseplants in a low-humidity environment can do poorly, so water them when they need it and create a plant humidifier that will add moisture to the environment as the water evaporates. Simply fill a tray with pebbles and add water to the tray. Leave the top layer of pebbles dry and set your potted plants on the pebbles.
Spritz With Spray Bottles
Finally, keep spray bottles around the house. Fill them with water and get into the habit of spritzing into the air a few times throughout the day. Just make sure that any children helping with this measure don't harm furniture with too many misdirected spritzes.