A steam vaporizer is one form of humidifier. Unlike a cool humidifier, the steam vaporizer heats 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 to your health, and heating the water may allow for certain chemical reactions that would not be possible with a cool water humidifier.
Steam Vaporizers vs. Cool Mist Humidifiers
Both steam vaporizers and cool mist humidifier units have one primary goal: to add water to the air to increase its humidity. The difference between these types of humidifiers is how the goal is accomplished. A cool mist unit uses pressure to expel water molecules. For example, an impeller humidifier produces mist by way of a rotating disk. Steam vaporizers, however, heat water to create a gas. A cool humidifier produces a mist, not a gas.
Humidifiers, in general, offer many health benefits. When the air lacks humidity, skin and mucus membranes can dry out. This leads to an increased risk of infection due to lower natural defenses. Increasing an area's humidity bombards dry tissues with water, which can then be absorbed.
Steam vaporizers help alleviate problems associated with a cold or the flu. Use of a steam vaporizer can reduce congestion by thinning any 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 additions to vaporizer mist when you have difficulty breathing or feel congested.
A vaporizer can work 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 air. This is a good way to improve the aroma of your home in a very subtle way. In addition, research suggests that 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 might even be able to improve moods.
While there are benefits to a steam vaporizer, there are risks, as well. Steam vaporizers are not suitable for use around children. The water inside a steam vaporizer must reach a boiling temperature to generate steam and is therefore a burn risk. In addition, all humidifiers must be properly 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 and disinfect frequently.
Writing since 1999, Darla Ferrara is an award-winning author who specializes in health, diet, fitness and computer technology. She has been published in "Mezzo Magazine" and Diet Spotlight, as well as various online magazines. Ferrara studied biology and emergency medical technology at the University of Nebraska and Southeast Community College.