The Humidifier is a common sight in many households during the winter. The basic purpose of a humidifier is to increase the moisture in the air. Most homes become drier in the winter because of a few factors, but running heaters is the most common, especially the forced air type.

Dry air is bad for a few reasons. One is that your mucous membranes dry out more easily, leaving you susceptible to bacteria and virii. Another is that dry air allows the buildup of static electricity, putting you at risk for ESD. Not a big deal to some, hilarious to those who like to shock others, a tremendous pain to computer enthusiasts.

There are three main types of commercial humidifiers: hot mist, cool mist, and ultrasonic.

Hot mist humidifiers basically boil the water into steam, and vent the steam. This is a boon to people with the common cold. It loosens phlegm beautifully, and certain medicines can be delivered via a hot mist humidifier vector.

Cool Mist humidifiers work off the principle of evaporation. To work effectively, they must expose more surface area of water to the air. They accomplish this in a variety of ways, depending on the brand. Most also have a small fan, in order to increase airflow.

My favorite type of humidifier is the Ultrasonic. These things use sound waves to atomize the water in the chamber and then blow it out of a vent. They run very quietly because the sound waves are not a frequency audible to the human ear. These things are awesome because they can be used as fake smoke machines for a party if one runs them at max mist volume. The mist dissipates quickly, but it is a cool effect.