While the vast majority of us will be welcoming in Fall with pumpkin spice lattes, scented candles, and warm, soft hoodies, there are those of us who will unfortunately see this season as the perfect time for allergies to kick up a notch or for colds and flues to give us a visit.
Instead of pumpkin spice lattes, we’re buying packets of steamable cold relief, and in lieu of candles, we’ve stocked up on boxes of tissues. For so many of us, winter months mean agony.
Seasonal allergies that occur in winter can be intensified by the fact that cold and flu season happen at the same time. Prime flu season is between December and February, making the coldest, driest months the months we are most likely to get sick. Parched winter air can make allergies and colds worse. Nasal passages that are congested and dry cause us to use our mouths to breathe, which can lead to dry throats and the development of coughs that may not even be related to our illness or allergy!
Chest congestion is another very bothersome problem in arid, cold months. Coughs can feel dry and unproductive, unable to remove the mucous from our chests and help us breathe better. When we lie down to sleep at night, the conditions can get worse. Mucous can settle in the chest and in the back of the throat causing an irritating tickle that seems to never quit.
Another winter wonder is dry, chapped skin and lips. It seems like no matter how much water we drink or lotion we use, we can’t seem to adequately hydrate our skin. Our lips can become dry and chapped, and in extreme cases can even crack. This is largely due to the lack of moisture in the air in the winter. Even if you live in an area that has relatively high humidity in winter months, the use of indoor heating systems steal moisture from the air and dry out skin, lips, and even hair.
Fall and winter can wreak havoc on our bodies, but there are measures we can take to ensure we are more comfortable during these months. Everlasting Comfort offers products that produce comfort when comfort just can’t be found. Especially when the air is dry and you aren’t feeling well, our products can help bring you relief when nothing else can!
One of our favorite dry weather products is our ultrasonic cool mist humidifier, and one of the questions we get most revolves around what type of water should be used in it. Let’s dive in!
What is a Humidifier and What Can it Do?
A humidifier is a small home appliance that works by delivering water vapor into the air to create a more humid atmosphere. When air temperatures reach extreme highs or lows outside, it can prompt us to use our air conditioners and heating systems more. These systems provide us temperature comfort, but oftentimes dry out the air and make us otherwise uncomfortable.
The optimum level of humidity for indoor air should be between 30 and 50%. HVAC systems can create air that is much less moisturized and can in turn make us very uncomfortable. Using a small humidifier can keep moisture in the air and allow our bodies to stay hydrated better overall. This can mean skin that stays quenched, and more comfort while breathing through the upper respiratory system.
Can You Use Tap Water in a Humidifier?
Contrary to popular belief, it is safe to use tap water in your humidifier. As long as your tap water is safe to drink and cook with, it is safe for you to use it in your humidifier. However, you should know that you may experience some unwanted side effects by using tap water. Common side effects of using tap water in your humidifier are as follows:
- White powder residue. You may experience white powder residue collecting on surfaces near your humidifier. This white powder is simply the mineral content in your tap water which has calcified. Humidifiers use a system of heating water and then dispersing it when it is cool. When this happens the minerals in the water turn into a white powder which are sometimes disbursed with the water vapor.
- Pink mold. While you can experience pink mold even when using distilled water, it is most common to experience pink mold and bacteria growth when you are using tap water. This is again because of the mineral content of your tap water. In order for you to avoid frequent mold buildup, you can use distilled water instead.
- Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (Humidifier Lung). This is a rare condition that comes from breathing air from a humidifier that is actively expelling a buildup of bacteria. For your humidifier to be actively spraying out bacteria, it must be very dirty and have gone multiple weeks without cleaning.
These are all conditions which may occur by using tap water in your humidifier, but it does not mean you cannot use tap water with your humidifier, or that it is unsafe.
What is Distilled Water?
Distilled water is essentially water that has been boiled to remove impurities. Distilled water has been boiled in a closed container system. As the water boils into steam, it condenses. The condensation is then collected back into another container. That water is then considered “distilled.” Any impurities in the water that do not boil into vapor are left at the bottom of the original jar or pan that was used for boiling.
Can You Make Distilled Water for a Humidifier at Home?
You can make distilled water for your humidifier at home with just a few simple tools. There are three ways to make distilled water at home.
Glass Bowl Method
This method is the easiest to perform at home. You will need a large pot, a glass bowl small enough to float inside the pot, and some ice.
- Place the pot on the stove and fill it halfway with water.
- Sit the glass bowl inside. The bowl must be able to flat. If it does not, you can sit a small cooling rack under it.
- Boil the water. Invert the pot’s lid on top of it and put several ice cubes on top. This will create a condensation effect.
- As the water inside the pot boils, it will turn to steam and hit the top of the inverted lid, which will be cold from the ice. This will create condensation which will drip down and collect in the glass bowl. The water in the glass bowl has been distilled.
Glass Bottle Distilling Method
This method requires equipment you may not have on hand. You will need a glass bottle that has a curved neck so that condensation does not drip back down into the water that is being distilled.
- Fill one glass bottle with water.
- Attach the two bottles to one another at the curved neck with duct tape.
- Place the bottle with water inside a pot of water. The other bottle will hand off of the side of the pot.
- Place an ice pack on the side of the bottle hanging off the side of the pot to create condensation.
- Boil the water in the pot. As the water in the pot boils, the water in the bottle inside the pot will heat and begin to evaporate into the curved bottle . It will hit the top of the bottle with the ice pack, create condensation, and collect inside that bottle. This is your distilled water.
The last method of distilling your own water for a humidifier is using rainwater and later distilling it. This method is least preferable because it does not involve properly boiling the water to remove impurities.
In this method you would imply set a large collection container outside to collect rainwater. Over a period of 48 hours, the sediment in the water should settle to the bottom leaving water that is distilled.
The distillation of the water occurs because rainwater is water that has evaporated, condensated, and reformed into droplets on its own.
While you may enjoy distilling rainwater on your own, you can also simply buy distilled water in store. It is very inexpensive and may be a better use of your time to buy it for use in your humidifier.
If you’d still like to use the distilling method at home, you can get into a routine with it very quickly so it won’t take as much time to get done as it does the first time you attempt to do it.
You don’t have to use distilled water in your humidifier, but you may be able to avoid white powder residue from forming, and delay bacteria and mold growth in your humidifier’s tank by using distilled water instead of tap water.
Your manufacturer may prefer you to use only distilled water with your system, and if so, you’ll definitely want to refrain from using tap water as that could render any warranty you have null and void.
As always be sure that you take care to clean and inspect your humidifier once a week to keep it in good repair and prevent a buildup of mold or bacteria!