How to Get More Steam From a Vaporizer

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Vaporizers help relieve the symptoms of cough, cold and influenza.
Vaporizers help relieve the symptoms of cough, cold and influenza. (Image: schnupfen image by Silvia Bogdanski from Fotolia.com)

A vaporizer, or steam humidifier, is a household appliance that uses a warm mist to increase humidity in a room. According to the American Lung Association, water in the holding chamber is boiled until it produces steam, which is released into the air through a top opening in the vaporizer. Vaporizers have many benefits, such as soothing a sore throat, moisturizing dry nasal passages and relieving cold symptoms. Some vaporizers do not release enough steam for therapeutic benefits, so it is important to know how to increase the output of your vaporizer.

Things You'll Need

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Distilled water
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Replacement air filter

Clean the vaporizer according to the manufacturer’s operating instructions. Minerals and residue can build up around the opening on the top of the vaporizer and block the flow of steam trying to escape. Most manuals suggest you clean the water reservoir well with a solution of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and water, then rinse several times with clean water to remove all traces of soap.

Fill the water reservoir to the indicated fill line with bottled water that has a low mineral content. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, distilled water should be used in vaporizers and humidifiers instead of tap water because tap water has a high mineral content, which can cause mineral buildup and block steam. Using distilled water instead of tap water increases the amount of steam from a vaporizer.

Add 1/8 teaspoon of salt to the water in the vaporizer’s water chamber. When water is very soft, it does not contain enough mineral components to yield steam. You may also add a half teaspoon of baking soda to the water for the same effect, with the added bonus of the baking soda's being a great cleanser and antimicrobial for the vaporizer.

Change the air filter in your vaporizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Many steam vaporizers have air filters that prevent impurities and microorganisms from entering the atmosphere with the steam. A dirty filter will cause the vaporizer to work much harder, resulting in less steam production.

Add a vaporizing steam liquid to the vaporizer if your model supports this feature and you are not allergic to camphor. Most vaporizing steam liquids contain camphor, which works by increasing the action of steam to boost vapor production. According to Drugs.com, camphor liquid is an effective cough suppressant and also helps to clear congested airways and sinuses.

Check your vaporizer’s heating elements or electrodes to see whether one needs to be replaced. Warm mist vaporizers use heating elements or electrodes to heat the water to a boiling point in order to produce steam, so the amount of steam decreases when an element burns out. Refer to your manufacturer’s instruction booklet on how to replace heating elements and electrodes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Place the vaporizer at least 4 feet away from draperies, bedding or any object that could block steam distribution.
  • Use extreme caution when using a vaporizer in a child's room. Place the vaporizer out of reach to prevent possible burns or scalding.

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