Humidifier or Diffuser - What's Right for My Child's Room?
When most people think of humidifiers, they also usually think of oil diffusers. That's because most people don't know what a humidifier or a diffuser is -- just that both appliances do something involving the air. Let's clarify what these two devices do before anything else:
- A humidifier keeps a room's atmosphere moist.
- A diffuser freshens the air with tiny essential oil droplets.
As you can see, the major difference is that humidifiers regulate the amount of moisture in the air, while oil diffusers improve the aromatic quality of the air. Both can be beneficial within a home, but for anyone with newborns or children, a humidifier is the right choice. Think of essential oil diffusers as a therapeutic small appliance for grown-ups, and of humidifiers as a home appliance that has proven health benefits for the whole family. Here's why.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils come from the plants. Various plant elements, such as the leaves, flowers, roots, etc., are distilled into a liquid usually by a steam or water process. The result is a very concentrated, natural oil that is used for aromatherapy purposes. This is because the oil retains the fragrance of the original plant. Many people use essential oils because they believe it stimulates their sense of smell and improves their overall well-being. These oils can be used in a variety of formats, from pure inhalations to baths to massages to diffusers.
How does an essential oil diffuser work?
When an essential oil is added to a diffuser, the diffuser works to break down the substance into tiny particles that are then dispersed into the air. There are four basic types of essential oil diffusers:
|Evaporative Diffuser||Heat Diffuser||Nebulizer Diffuser||Ultrasonic/Humidifying Diffuser|
|1. Oil drops are added to the diffuser filter/pad||1. Oil drops are added to the diffuser filter/pad||1. Works similar to a perfume atomizer||1. Essential oils are added to water in the diffuser|
|2. Diffuser fan blows air through the filter/pad||2. Heating element causes oils to evaporate quicker than usual||2. Oil is added to bottom of a tube||2. Oil remains on the surface of the water|
|3. Oils evaporate quicker than usual||3. Heat causes evaporated oils to diffuse into room||3. Air-jet blows across top of the tube||3. Disk vibrates and agitates the water|
|4. Evaporated-oil air is fan-blown into the room||4. Vacuum effect sucks oil to top of tube||4. Vibrations break the oil into tiny particles|
|5. Air blows across the oil's surface at the tube top||5. Oil is dispersed in a fine mist throughout the room|
|6. Tiny oil droplets are diffused throughout the room||6. Mist humidifies the air|
Of these four, nebulizer oil diffusers are generally thought to be the most effective. You'll notice that the ultrasonic/humidifying oil diffusers sounds strikingly similar to a humidifier. That's probably where the confusion first started about the difference between a humidifier and an essential oil diffuser.
What does a humidifier do?
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Colder air cannot hold as much water as warmer air. That's why low humidity is a natural problem during the winter, and it's exacerbated in indoor environments by the usage of heaters, which can dry out the air further. Low humidity makes things uncomfortable for us humans by causing parched lips, skin, throats, etc. It also increases static electricity, which can make things shocking to touch, and it can actually make you feel relatively colder. According to Mayo Clinic, the ideal humidity level in a home should be somewhere between 30 to 50 percent. This is why a humidifier is needed: to increase and maintain the indoor humidity level during periods of low humidity. In doing so, these appliances can relieve some of the symptoms of colds, such as clearing up stuffy noses.
How does a humidifier work?
There are a number of different humidifier types designed for residential usage. The most popular portable home options include:
|Warm Mist Humidifer||Evaporative Humidifier (Cool Mist)||Impeller Humidifier (Cool Mist)||Ultrasonic Humidifier (Warm or Cool Mist)|
|1. Boiling water produces steam||1. Water is added to the humidifier reservoir||1. Spinning disk puts water into a diffuser||1. Vibrating metal diaphragm produces sound vibrations|
|2. Steam is allowed to cool slightly||2. A wick/filter/belt soaks up the water||2. Diffuser breaks the water into tiny droplets||2. Vibrations propel tiny water molecules into the air|
|3. Warm steam is released into the room||3. A fan set next to the wick blows air through it||3. Droplets float into the room's air||3. Air instantly absorbs the mist|
|4. Moisture is expelled into the room|
Why should a portable humidifier be used instead of an oil diffuser in a child's room?
It seems like the essential oil diffuser that we mentioned above -- the ultrasonic/humidifying oil diffuser -- is the best choice for your home, right? After all, it combines the best of both worlds into one convenient appliance that provides both moisture control and aromatherapy...wrong!
While an essential oil diffuser may have therapeutic benefits for adults, some essential oils can cause serious health problems when they're used improperly, and children are especially susceptible. For example, the University of Minnesota explains that, "Some essential oils, such as peppermint, should not be used with children younger than six years old. Menthol-one of the major chemicals in peppermint oil - has caused breathing to stop in young children." If you aren't certain about how an essential oil may affect your child, it's better not to use it at all.
This is why a humidifier would be a better choice for a home with a newborn or smaller children. It provides the necessary increase in moisture in the air to keep your family comfortable, without the possible side effects of an oil diffuser.
What is the best portable humidifier for a child's room?
Even within the home humidifier spectrum, there are also certain humidifiers which are more ideal for a home with children than others. For example, pediatricians generally recommend not using warm mist humidifiers with small children in the home, to avoid accidental spills and burns from the boiling water inside the unit.
So, of the cool mist type, the best humidifiers for babies are ultrasonic humidifiers. Because these ultramodern appliances don't use a fan, and they work at a frequency higher than the human ear can hear, they're ultra-quiet -- which anybody with any young child knows -- is essential for helping both them, and you, get a good's night sleep.
The Luma Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier combines all of these elements into a product that provides soothing and cool moisture to dry environments, and that is just right for a home with children. Producing a micro-fine mist with ultrasonic technology, this home humidifier has an effective coverage area of 650 square feet, so it can be used in pretty much any room throughout the house, from the living room to the nursery. It produces 2.5 gallons of mist daily, and with a single tank fill, can control air moisture for up to 45 hours.
Importantly, this Luma Comfort Humidifier also includes a demineralization cartridge. When hard water, such as from the kitchen tap, is used in a humidifier, the mineral content from that water can be released into the air and create a coating of unhealthy white dust around the room. The mineral cartridge greatly reduces the amount of mineral content in the water to prevent its release into the air.
This particular nursery humidifier comes in white or black, and it sure doesn't look like any ordinary appliance. It's sleek and complementary wherever it's placed. After all, just because you have children doesn't mean your home has to be lacking in elegant decor. Other features of the Luma Comfort HC12W (White) and the Luma Comfort HC12B (Black) models include:
- 8 adjustable mist settings with musical alerts when changed
- ETL certified for safety
- Adjustable height
- 1.18 gallon tank
- Empty tank indicator
- Digital control
- Includes remote control
- Uses only 35 watts
- Weighs just 6.3 pounds
Overall, this is a lightweight, very quiet, and energy-efficient cool mist humidifier that can be placed on a floor or a table. It will increase the amount of water vapor in the air in your home, and in turn can help your family's skin stay hydrated, keep you from waking up with a dry mouth, and soothe coughs and sinus congestion.
What's the bottom line about humidifiers and oil diffusers?
If you're a newbie to both, still feel free to try an essential oil diffuser if you're interested in seeing how it can improve your wellness. However, if you're a newbie to both with a baby or a small child, it's a better idea to start with a humidifier for improving the humidity level in your home, and perhaps wait until the little ones are a bit older before you start diffusing lavender oil through the whole house.