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Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist Humidifiers


A chieving proper balance when it comes to indoor humidity is, in most cases, impossible without the use of a moisture-enhancing or reducing system. If you are here, your issue is clearly with low humidity levels and you seek to acquire a humidifier to upkeep proper RH levels so that comfort and healthfulness indoors won’t be issues to worry your mind with. Dry air indoors is disruptive for our health, especially affecting the nasal passages, so the urgency for normal humidity is easy to understand.

However, one of the first questions you must ask yourself with the acquisition is – does cool or warm mist better suit you? Evidently, you first need to know what differentiates cool and warm mist systems, what both have to offer, and what their ups and downs are, and for this, we recommend you continue with us as we will dive into this subject further in the following.

Cold Mist Humidification 101

These systems disperse room temperature mist into the air to increase humidity and create a comfortable living environment. Among systems that produce cool mist in their operation are included multiple types, as follows:

  • Ultrasonic systems: These systems use an ultrasonic diaphragm that vibrates at high frequencies, breaking down the water into droplets as cool fog that is released into the air.
  • Impeller systems: Use a rotating disc to throw the water into a diffuser, breaking it into fine-size droplets.
  • Evaporative systems: Use a wick filter to absorb and evaporate the water, a fan aiding in the process of blowing the evaporation into the air.

See a ranking of the best cool mist humidifiers to find out what your best options are and draw comparisons to make an informed decision regarding the purchase that tailors to all of your needs.


  • Safe: As there is no hot water involved in the operational process, there is no risk of injury, and the system is a safer option to use in households with infants.
  • Year-round use: You are likely to use it year-round as the mist it emits is at room temperature, not affecting the ambiance or comfort in any manner.
  • Easy upkeep: Tank is easy to clean and there are no perils involved with the maintenance process either.
  • Quiet: Regardless of the type of system you opt for, what is a given is that it maintains a whisper-quiet operation, barely being able to notice its presence when it is turned on.


  • Doesn’t purify: The released mist might contain minerals, impurities, and microorganisms as it isn’t boiled for these particles to be eliminated. This is why it’s recommended to use distilled or purified water in the machine’s basin.
  • Mandatory cleaning: You have to clean the humidifier once per week, otherwise you risk bacteria and mold developing in the tank and inevitably being released into the air you breathe.
  • White dust: If the water contains minerals, the mist released into the air will settle on surfaces as white dust.

Warm Mist Humidification 101

These systems boil the water to produce steam with the help of a heating element, slightly warming the air in the room as a result of their operating process. As the water is passed through the boiling process, bacteria and germs are destroyed, which makes them a more sanitary option to go for. There is only one type of system in this category, and that is the steam humidifier.

See a ranking of the best warm mist humidifiers to find out what your best options are and draw comparisons to make an informed decision regarding the purchase that tailors to all of your needs.


  • Purified mist: As the water is passed through a boiling process, microorganisms and impurities are removed from it before the mist is released into the air, ensuring it won’t pollute the air indoors.
  • Quiet: The lack of a fan ensures whisper-quiet operation of the system.
  • Medical purpose: You can add medicated inhalants into the water for them to be diffused into the air.
  • Warmer surroundings: While it won’t make a major difference, the machine will make the surroundings feel a bit warmer, which comes in handy if you plan on using it during the cold season.


  • Harder to clean: As during the boiling process mineral deposits from the hard water are left behind, it is a tad harder to clean as opposed to its cool mist counterpart.
  • Frequent maintenance: Bacteria love warm water and chances for them thriving in the tank are high, regular maintenance being required for safety reasons.
  • Safety considerations: As it boils the water and features a heating element, you have to make sure that children and pets cannot access it to keep them out of harm’s way.
  • Power draw: The heating element within the system requires energy to run, which causes the system to waste more power in its operation.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Factor Cool Mist Systems Warm Mist Systems
Allergy relief Yes Yes
Cold symptoms relief Yes Yes
Safe around children Yes No
Can disperse inhalants No Yes
Year-round use Yes No
Silent operation Yes Yes
Maintenance costs Low Higher

Combination Systems

Some humidifiers provide both types of misting capabilities, allowing you to pick whether cool or warm mist is released at any given point for added convenience in use. The enhanced provided control makes these systems more popular among customers as year-round use is provided, which for those who live in arid areas is needed. Thus, if you are undecided between the two settings or you consider that you are likely to use the system all year long and want to suit the mist type to the current season, your best option is to go for a combination system that provides both settings.

Check out the full review of the Crane EE-8065 humidifier if you are interested in a combination system that comes at a fair price, is easy to run and maintain, and can cover quite vast spaces despite its compact design.


As you can see, both systems have their own set of pros and cons, and in the end, it is all up to you to decide what machine type is best suited for your needs and expectations. As aforementioned, you even have the option to choose a combo system in case you can’t make up your mind or you view both mist settings as beneficial under different circumstances. At the end of the day, both types of humidifiers do an exceptional job of raising indoor humidity, so it’s more of a matter of preference when you pick between the two. Now that you have all the data you need, you are bound to make an informed pick that complies with your specific situation.

Tobey Hunter
Tobey Hunter
Tobey is the editor-in-chief at Optima Institute, his prior experience as a niche product reviewer in air quality improvement systems helping shape his path to conduct thorough research toward selecting and analyzing products so that customers are satisfied with the provided recommendations. During his carrier, Tobey also gathered technical input that makes him well versed in understanding advancements in modern systems, helping readers in turn to better understand how modern devices help improve life quality.