Reviews and Tips on Buying Warm Mist Humidifiers

A warm mist humidifier produces clouds of warm, soothing mist that can help treat colds and the flu, and ease other respiratory problems. Steam humidifiers and vaporizers are both considered warm mist humidifiers. According to the Mayo Clinic website, warm mist and cool mist humidifiers are both equal in their ability to humidify the air. However, the warm mist models boil the water before expelling the steam into the room. The warm steam is easier to breathe, especially in a cool room, which makes warm mist humidifiers ideal for treating winter colds. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the features of these humidifiers and offer advice on choosing the best one to suit your needs.

Pros and Cons of Warm Mist Humidifiers

Following are some of the advantages of warm mist humidifiers:

  • Wicks do not need replacing, which means a lower long-term cost
  • May contain a medicine cup for steaming respiratory medications or essential oils
  • Generates heat for use during winter or in cold rooms
  • Runs more quietly than a cool mist humidifier
  • Often sold in small, portable units

Now, some of the disadvantages of warm mist humidifiers include:

  • Require more frequent cleaning to prevent bacterial growth in warm water
  • Higher risk of injury due to boiling water and heating element
  • Covers a smaller area than cool mist humidifiers

As you can see, the use of a warm mist humidifier over a cool mist model is strictly a matter of personal preference. Neither is really that much better than the other. However, people in cool climates or who suffer from respiratory ailments during cold weather may prefer a machine that produces warm mist.

Features to Look For in a Warm Mist Humidifier

When you're purchasing a warm mist room humidifier, there are a few things you should look for to make sure you get the most value for your money. The following recommended features are often found in the best models on the market:

  • Humidistat - A humidistat gauges the amount of humidity in the room and tells the machine to shut off when it reaches a certain level. Humidity over 65 percent can actually encourage the growth of mold and bacteria.
  • Automatic Shut-Off - In addition to the humidistat, a warm mist humidifier should have a features that automatically shuts off the machine when it runs out of water. The heating element becomes a fire hazard when the machine runs with no water.
  • Easy to Clean - Because warm mist models require frequent cleaning, they should be easy to take apart and clean.
  • Large Capacity - A large water capacity means you'll refill the reservoir with water less often, which is a good thing when you're sick and don't feel like refilling every hour.

The Best Warm Mist Humidifier: Reviews

Although there are many brands on the market, perhaps the best warm mist humidifier currently available is the SPT SU-4010 Ultrasonic Dual-Mist Warm/Cool Humidifier with Ion Exchange Filter. It performs as both a warm mist and cool mist humidifier, so you get the best of both worlds. It runs very quietly (advertised as virtually silent), provides bi-directional mist for wider coverage and covers rooms up to 500 square feet in size. The water tank holds up to 4 liters of water at a time, and it has overheating protection for added safety. This model has also been featured as a Consumer's Digest Best Buy and comes highly recommended by customers.

The SPT Dual-Mist humidifier has an average customer rating of 4 out 5 stars on (at the time of this writing) with over 180 customer reviews, and it only costs around $75. Although it does have a smaller capacity water tank, this is an advantage if you want to place it on a bookcase or other out-of-the-way area. It's not too bulky, like many other humidifiers of this kind. When used on the medium setting, the water should last about 12 hours before running out. The automatic shut-off prevents the unit from running without water.

After the STP model, the next best warm mist humidifier has to be the Optimus U-32010 3.0 Gallon Warm Mist Humidifier with Wicking Vapor System. It has a MUCH larger reservoir than the STP machine, and works very efficiently. It holds 1.7 gallons of water and runs on the highest setting for about 12 hours. It operates extremely quietly, with no bubbling or gurgling sounds that are common in humidifiers. It's low maintenance and doesn't require cleaning of the heating element. This model also has a variable humidistat, re-fill light indicator, automatic shut-off when the tank runs out of water, and covers up to 600 square feet of space.

At the time of this writing, the Optimus Warm Mist Humidifier has an average customer rating of 4 out of 5 stars on, and costs around $60 to buy. This is quite a value considering the extra features it offers. It is much larger than the SPT model, however, so you'll need a flat surface somewhere in the run to set it up. The only drawback is that some customers report malfunctions when the machine is used with hard water. For the best results, only put filtered water into your warm mist humidifier, regardless of the brand.