Unfortunately the answer is: Depends
And for that I’d put a quick infographic here if I were feeling like it, but I’m not… so we’ll have to go with the fancy bullet-point version of the two in an theITbaby faceoff.
- use tap water and salt
- heat the water to a point where it’s sterile
- burn the crap out of anyone in the steam path
- Have to be kept away from small ones lest they burn themselves
- Require $0.003 in salt per year to run effectively
- Can be had from $8-$15
- require distilled/purified water or they become bacteria farms
- provide cool mist that can’t hurt anything
- probably safe to put an infant in
- become bacteria farms if you don’t clean regularly
- Can produce a lot more humidity than a vaporizer for less energy
- Can be had from $26-$80
Water in a pan left out
- work about 1/15th as well as vaporizers
- will get stepped in
- become bacteria farms
Humidity is important to skin, sinuses, and also can help you save on heating bills as you’re less likely to be cold in 70 degree temperatures if it’s humid. To repeat – if the humidity is right, you won’t feel as cold. You also don’t get shocked by static electricity every time you touch something.
You’re most likely to be comfortable in a 35-45% humidity range, and in winter that can drop to as low as 5% due to heaters burning the moisture out of the already cold dry winter air.
Vaporizers can burn the crap out of a baby, possibly killing them. Humidifiers will spread bacteria if you don’t use distilled water and clean them regularly (bacteria float in and multiply,) also possibly killing baby.
While you can keep a vaporizer out of arm’s reach, you can’t stop bacteria by placing a humidifier away from your baby. Now, a baby’s significantly less likely to have a problem from a common mold allergy vs burning when touched with a vaporizer, so do the math and figure it out for how it works for you.
I’m currently using a Vick’s Vaporizer in Maggie’s room away from anywhere she could reach. It’s stopped her snoring, it doesn’t require expensive distilled water (only tap water and some salt,) and it’s not putting any bacteria into the air.
When she gets older I’ll probably swap that out with an ultrasonic and distil my own water as I’ve ruined multiple $50+ humidifiers by not heeding the requirement to use distilled..