Humidifiers are common household appliances that are designed to increase humidity. The most common type of humidifier is an evaporative humidifier. It filters water from a reservoir. The water evaporates, and it is released into the air. While humidifiers' evaporation rates are based on rooms' humidities, all evaporative humidifiers utilize wicks to absorb and release evaporated water.
Sponge wick humidifiers are typically the least expensive. This wick absorbs water like a dish sponge. Use this type of wick in homemade humidifiers. Purchase a 1-inch-thick sponge, and attach the sponge to a skewer. Position the sponge above a bowl of water, so ½ inch of the sponge is dipped in the water. Place a fan directly behind the sponge. As this wick absorbs water, the fan circulates its moisture throughout the room.
Foam humidifier wicks are found in more expensive humidifiers because they cost more to manufacture, and the foam wick is more costly to replace. The foam material may vary. Common foam wicks are manufactured out of webbed or pleated fibrous material. Compressed cellulose foam is gaining popularity due to its ability to maintain high air flow when wet. Check your humidifier owner's manual to determine if you may use a foam wick.
Cloth wicks work by using the same principle as other wicks. As the cloth absorbs water, a fan circulates, evaporating water throughout the room. Cloth wicks are commonly found in less expensive humidifiers. Cheese cloth is typically used because it can absorb water. Due to the small holes located in the fabric, water can easily pass through, enhancing the amount of moisture delivered to the room.
Because sponge, foam and cloth wicks are continually exposed to water, they are breeding grounds for unwanted organisms, such as mold. Mold issues are more common in sponge and cloth wicks. The type of water used plays a direct role in mold and mineral development. For example, water with a high mineral content increases the likelihood of exposing high levels of minerals in the air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.