A steam vaporizer is one form of humidifier. Unlike a cool humidifier, the steam vaporizer heats the water to create a gaseous state, much like a pot boiling on the stove. The unit cools the steam prior to releasing it into the atmosphere. Adding humidity to the room offers many benefits, and heating the water may allow for certain chemical reactions that you would not get with a cool water humidifier.

A steam vaporizer may help relieve congestion.

Steam Vaporizers vs. Cool Mist Humidifiers

Both units have one primary goal: They add water to the air to increase humidity. The difference is how the goal is accomplished. A cool mist unit uses pressure to expel the water molecules. For example, an impeller humidifier produces mist with a rotating disk. Steam vaporizers heat the water to create a gas. A cool humidifier produces mist, not a gas.

Health Benefits

Humidifiers, in general, offer many health benefits. When the air lacks humidity, skin and mucus membranes can dry. Increasing the humidity bombards the dry tissue with water that can be absorbed. Steam vaporizers help alleviate problems associated with a cold or the flu. Setting up a steam vaporizer can reduce congestion by thinning mucus that builds up in the respiratory tract. Some companies offer therapeutic additives that work well with a steam vaporizer. For example, camphor or menthol can be soothing when you have difficulty breathing or feel congested.

Essential Oils

A vaporizer works as a diffuser to deliver essential oils into the air. As the water heats up, the molecules from the essential oil bind to the gas. The vapor then carries the essential oils into the atmosphere. Using a steam vaporizer can add a bouquet to your home. Essential oils can work as a natural healing agent. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil or menthol to the water in a steam vaporizer may help sooth and improve moods.


While there are benefits to a steam vaporizer, there are risks, as well. Steam vaporizers are not suitable around children. The water must reach a boiling temperature to generate steam and is a burn risk. All humidifiers must be maintained to avoid bacterial contamination. A poorly handled steam vaporizer can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Read the directions on your unit for proper cleaning instructions.