Cool Mist Vs Warm Mist Humidifier: Everything You Need To Know & Which Humidifier Is Best

Kenneth Wilson

Humidifiers have been a common household item because of the benefits it promises to people. Humidifiers have a useful function which is to provide moisture in the air, ultimately, this would prevent dryness in different areas of the skin. Moreover, humidifiers are also used for relief when people are feeling under the weather.

So it is clear that this household staple is a reliable item to keep at home, however, there is more than one type of humidifier, and this makes it difficult for people to decide which one to get.

The two main, and rather common, humidifiers would be the cool mist and warm mist humidifiers. Both humidifiers each have their own set of benefits and drawbacks, the question is, which one is better than the other?

What is a Cool Mist Humidifier?

A cool mist humidifier is regarded as one of the most popular types of humidifier in the market due to the safety it provides for people. A cool mist humidifier will never cause burns as well (these would usually happen with hot water), which is a good thing.From the name itself, cool mist humidifiers work by releasing  cool moisture in the air, at room temperature, and provide more humidity in a home.

With that being said, cool mist humidifiers would be useful during cold seasons since there is a lack of humidity during these times. Low levels of humidity can cause congestion, asthma, asthma attacks, flu, etc. (Related: The Ideal Indoor Humidity To Keep You Comfortable At Home)

Luckily, cool mist humidifiers can help alleviate these problems. If an individual were to purchase a cool mist humidifier, they can choose between two types of said humidifier; evaporative and ultrasonic.

There is not much difference between these two types of cool mist humidifiers. The only thing that differentiates evaporative from ultrasonic, and vice versa, would be the technology it uses. Apart from that, both give the same results.

Benefits of a Cool Mist Humidifier

  • Relief for several sinus problems such as congestion, colds, flu, and allergies. Cool mist humidifiers also help in alleviating asthma attacks during cold seasons like winter.
  • Helps families save in the long run. The reason behind this is most humidifiers do not require a lot of electricity to perform their primary function. Most often than not, humidifiers make use of fans, and this does not consume much electricity. Furthermore, heating water will not be necessary since cool mist humidifiers can release cool moisture in the air without undergoing any heating process.
  • Easily fills a room up with moisture. No matter how large a room may be, it will be able to provide humidity quickly. Needless to say, even small cool mist humidifiers perform way better than warm mist humidifiers.
  • Guarantees safety for families since these do not make use of any hot water (this eliminates the chances of burns) and they will not ruin furniture as well.
  • Perfect choice of humidifiers for babies. Babies will have difficulties in taking cough medicines when their noses are stuffy, so an easy solution to solve this kind of problem would be to use a cool mist humidifier. The cool mist can help with a stuffy nose by passing through a baby’s nostrils and lessen the congestion.

Drawbacks of a Cool Mist Humidifier

  • Easily accumulates bacteria and molds if not cleaned regularly. Evaporative humidifiers are a bit tedious in terms of maintenance since the filters need to be changed regularly to prevent any bacterial growth. Ultrasonic humidifiers on the other hand require simple cleaning such as rinsing the components inside the humidifier itself. However, while cleaning this, it can get a bit messy since water puddles will most likely happen, so this should be raised off of the ground while it is being thoroughly cleaned.
  • The fans that cool mist humidifiers use tend to get a bit loud compared to warm mist humidifiers which are a lot quieter.

What is a Warm Mist Humidifier?

A warm mist humidifier is everything a cool mist humidifier is not. This type of humidifier undergoes a heating process, by boiling water, to produce warm steam and spread moisture in a home.

This makes a warm mist humidifier dangerous for kids and pets since they have the potential to accidentally spill things. Accidents like these will lead to burns, so do remember to keep warm mist humidifiers out of reach of children and pets.

Moving on, the function of a warm mist humidifier is to provide as much moisture saturation in a home as possible. Moreover, the great thing about warm mist humidifiers is they can keep bacteria and germ levels low. Like cold mist humidifiers, warm mist humidifiers are also used in relieving problems such as cough.

Furthermore, warm mist humidifiers do not make use of fans so they are much quieter, however, as aforementioned, these humidifiers make use of a heating process, so that generates more electricity. This would end up being pricier for families.

There are three kinds of warm mist humidifiers; steam humidifier, evaporative humidifier, and aerosol humidifier. All three of these are effective in providing moisture to a home, so the decision would all boil down to the family itself.

Each warm mist humidifier type also has its own set of drawbacks. For instance, a steam humidifier’s ducts will form rusts over time, evaporative humidifiers hold stagnant water and that would make room for bacteria and molds to breed in, lastly, aerosol humidifiers tend to have clogged nozzles which would affect their overall function.

Benefits of a Warm Mist Humidifier

  • The mineral dust build-up is minimal when it comes to warm mist humidifiers.
  • Warm mist humidifiers are a lot quieter than cool mist humidifiers because they do not use fans.
  • Inhalants can be added in warm mist humidifiers to enhance the effectiveness of treating several problems such as colds, flu, and cough. This should not be done in rooms where there are kids and infants though.
  • Warm mist humidifiers are more hygienic compared to cool mist humidifiers since the steam that comes out from these humidifiers is boiled first before being released into the air as clean and warm moisture.
  • Warm mist humidifiers can make cold air warmer. This would be useful during the winter season.
  • Perfect for reducing the likelihood of bacteria and molds building up inside a home.

Drawbacks of a Warm Mist Humidifier

  • Makes use of heating elements that would generate more electricity, therefore, it would be more costly compared to other types of humidifiers.
  • The heating process in warm mist humidifiers is dangerous, especially around kids and pets, since these tend to spill when kids or pets play with them. The spillage of hot water from the humidifier would cause burns to kids and pets alike, so do be extra cautious about this.

Cool Mist and Warm Mist Humidifier: Differences

The differences between a cool mist humidifier and a warm mist humidifier would centralize on the following factors shown below:

  • Air Temperature: Cool mist humidifiers tend to make a room chillier, on the other hand, warm mist humidifiers can make cold air drop in temperature, thus making a room warmer.
  • Cost: Warm mist humidifiers cost more than their counterparts since they use up more electricity. To be specific, warm mist humidifiers use 10 times more electricity than cool mist humidifiers, this is because they use heating elements to boil water and eventually turn it into steam. The general wattage that warm mist humidifiers use is based on its mist setting. Low mist setting would use about 125W while high mist setting would use around 250W.
  • Mist Coverage: A small cool mist humidifier provides more moisture coverage in a room compared to a large warm mist humidifier. Cool mist humidifiers are perfect for providing cool humidity in large rooms and even an entire house. Warm mist humidifiers on the other hand are only suitable for one small room like a bedroom or an office room.
  • Noise: Warm mist humidifiers are quieter since they do not use fans while cool mist humidifiers tend to create a lot more noise due to the fans that they use.
  • Safety: Cool mist humidifiers are a go-to product for parents since they are safer to use compared to warm mist humidifiers. Cool mist humidifiers use fans while warm mist humidifiers use a heating element to create mists. This type of process has safety hazard concerns since the spillage of boiling water would cause burns. These would be incredibly dangerous for unsupervised children and pets. This is why cool mist humidifiers are preferred.
  • Process Of Releasing Air: Cool mist humidifiers either release mist through wick filters absorbing water and blowing it out from the fans to create a mist, or, ultrasonic vibrations are being used to produce mist. As for warm mist humidifiers, heating elements are used to release warm steam into the air.

Cool Mist and Warm Mist Humidifier: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Warm or Cool Mist Humidifier better for Sinuses?

Both cool and warm mist humidifiers are good for sinuses, however, the latter is more effective in clearing out sinus problems. Warm mist humidifiers emit warm steam and that acts as a decongestant for people who are congested. Moreover, inhalants can be added to the boiling water to increase the effectiveness of decongestion.

Which Humidifier works best for Cough?

Cool mist humidifiers work best for coughs, although researchers are conducting more studies to prove just how effective these are for relieving cough and congestion symptoms due to colds. As for warm mist humidifiers, it is not recommended to use in cough relief since it is not the safest humidifier option.

Which Humidifier works best for Colds?

The majority of humidifiers in the market that are great for colds are a mix of both the cool and warm mist humidifiers. Some humidifiers have both cool and warm mist functions and these are a great alternative for people who cannot decide which humidifier to get for their homes.

Which Humidifier works best for Sore Throats?

A cool mist humidifier would be the best option for sore throat relief. Since cool mist humidifiers are able to fill up a room with moisture quickly and are able to cover a larger area, it is recommended for people with sore throats. This is to make them feel relief wherever they are in their homes.

Which Humidifier works best for Dry and Wet Coughs?

A warm mist humidifier may provide more comfort when it comes to dry cough, however, this is not recommended since this cannot be used for children. Therefore, the next best thing would be the cool mist humidifier, it is safe and provides cool moisture in a room in a fast and efficient way.

Which Humidifier works best for Dry Skin?

Cool mist humidifiers would be a more viable option for dry skin, the main reason behind this mostly concerns safety. It is safer to use cool mist humidifiers compared to warm mist humidifiers. It is common sense too, who would want to be exposed to the possibility of getting their dry skin burnt due to spillage, right? Another factor that makes a cool mist humidifier a better choice than its counterpart is its ability to fully provide moisture in large areas. Still, the decision would rest on the one who is going to purchase a humidifier since their preference and room size will determine what type of humidifier they need.

Which Humidifier works best for Babies?

A cool mist humidifier would be best for babies since these are a lot safer than warm mist humidifiers. This would ultimately prevent accidental hot water spillage and burns. The only downside with choosing cool mist humidifiers over the other is this one creates more noise.

Which Humidifier is best during Winter?

A warm mist humidifier is a clear answer for this since it is able to provide warm air during the winter season. Cold mist humidifiers are known for making rooms a lot chillier than normal and people would not want this during winter.

Which Humidifier works best for Asthma?

According to the Asthma Society of Canada, humidifiers are not recommended for people with asthma. People diagnosed with asthma must consult a doctor before they decide to use a humidifier to provide relief for their asthma and/or asthma attacks.

Which Humidifier is good for Congestion?

Warm mist humidifiers are great for congestion since people can add inhalants in the boiling water. Once this is done, it would amplify the decongesting properties of the inhalant used since it has been converted into warm steam, and warm steam is easily absorbed by the body.

Kenneth Wilson
September 3, 2021

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

Ask The Author Your Questions In The Comments!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

More From This Author