Can you use tap water in a humidifier and save the money that you would have used to buy distilled water?
Using regular tap water in the humidifier will not break it down. Therefore, the answer is yes, you can use tap water in your unit if you do not have distilled water.
You should change back to distilled or purified water as soon as possible. Used in an ultrasonic humidifier, there will be white dust on your surfaces.
Tap water, even if the municipality tells you it is soft water, can mess up your unit in the long term. That is why you must desist from using it, if you can.
In another article, we saw how you can use humidifier tablets to soften your water. We would recommend you use these tablets even if you have soft water in your home.
It will help remove all mineral traces so that they are not pumped out into your air with the mist.
Also Read: Is 70 Percent Humidity High Outside?
Why using tap water in humidifier might be a bad idea
It is okay to use tap water in a humidifier a few times, but do not make a habit of it. Here are a few reasons why you should avoid it:
1. It makes the humidifier require cleaning too often
Tap water will have minerals such as magnesium, calcium, fluoride, copper and sodium. These are added in quantities that meet the recommendations of the Safe Water Federal Act. That is why you can drink tap water in the USA without concerns for health.
While these minerals are in the lowest quantities, they will form scale on the walls of the humidifier tank.
Scale is the mineral deposits that stick on the walls of the tank. Since most humidifiers such as Pure Enrichment units come with clear tanks, when scale forms on the walls of the tank, it can make it look bad.
2. You have to change the filters more often
Unless you are using a filterless humidifier, the water in the tank will go through the HEPA filters. These filters remove other contaminants from the water.
If the water has too many minerals, you might have to change the filters more often than a person who uses distilled water.
In most cases, humidifier manufacturers such as Honeywell recommend changing the filters at least once every six months.
If there are too many minerals in the water, you might have to change them earlier, or clean them more often.
3. The minerals in tap water cause mold and bacteria
This is another reason why you should not use tap water in a humidifier. These minerals can provide food for bacteria, viruses and mold. The constantly wet condition of the unit makes it a good environment for bacteria to thrive.
Whatever grows in the humidifier is going to be pumped out with the mist. Mold can also cause humidifier sickness symptoms.
If you are using the humidifier in the baby’s room, be careful to use the right water. Children have delicate airways. If they inhale contaminated air, they can experience breathing problems.
The humidifier might also leave humidifier white dust. While this dust is not harmful, it might irritate the airways of your baby.
If you have been using tap water in the unit, check for mold symptoms in humidifier. This usually manifests in the form of brown or pink stains on the walls of the tank.
4. Minerals might cover the heating elements
This most applies to using tap water in the warm mist humidifiers. When the water boils, the minerals settle on the heating elements, covering them. This will prevent them from working correctly.
For the heating elements to work again, you have to clean them often to remove the scale. This gives you extra work to do, so it is best to use distilled water in the unit.
How to make tap water safe for humidifier: 3 simple ways
From the above section, you can see that it is not entirely safe to use tap water in a humidifier.
However, if this is the only water available for you, or you are running on a low budget and you cannot buy distilled water, you can make the available water safe for your unit.
Here are a few things you can do to make your home water okay to use in your mister:
1. Purify the water
In a recent article, we said that boiling humidifier water might not help much. We still insist on the same thing here, because boiling water does not remove minerals.
Today, there are many reverse osmosis filtration systems that you can buy and use at home. You connect these to the water line, just before it gets to the taps.
They will filter out the minerals from the water, softening it enough and making it “almost” safe for your mister unit.
2. A demineralization cartridge can help
A demineralization cartridge can help you a great deal. As its name suggests, the work of this cartridge is to remove minerals from the water. This is especially vital if the water coming through your faucets is hard water.
A demineralization cartridge works in a very simple way. It removes minerals from the water before it can be converted into mist.
We need to repeat something here … if the water in your home is soft (with just the regular, allowed minerals), you should not worry about it too much.
You can use it in many humidifiers without too much trouble.
3. Boil the water
When you boil the water for your mister, you are really not going to remove minerals from it. However, tap water passes through long piping and along the way, it can collect germs and bacteria. Most of them will die if you boil the water.
The warm mist units will kill bacteria when they boil the water. Thus, only boil yours if you are using a cool mist mister.
Minerals need to be removed physically from the water. This is why filtration and purification processes are best for making home water safe for misting.
Can You Use Tap Water In A Humidifier? FAQ
The debate about using tap water for humidifying your indoor air is a bit complicated. If you can drink this water, why can’t you use it in your unit?
To clear any doubts lingering in your mind, here are a few frequently asked questions and their answers:
Can you use tap water in a warm mist humidifier?
Vicks humidifiers are pretty resilient. They come with a scent pad for essential oils and they pump out mist nicely. If you use tap water, check the heating elements regularly and clean the unit at least twice a week to remove mineral deposits.
Can you use tap water in a cool mist humidifier?
100 percent yes. Misting units are not as delicate as people would have you believe. In fact, some of the models from Everlasting Comfort can even handle hard water, but don’t use it. If you do, clean the unit more often than you would one using distilled or purified water.
Also read: Why is my dehumidifier blowing cold air?
Is it bad to use tap water in a humidifier?
If you have a budget for distilled water or you can buy a reverse osmosis water purifier, DON’T use tap water in your mister. If the only water available is from the tap, go ahead and use it. Just don’t make a habit of it. The mineral content in home water is minimal so it is not necessarily going to damage the unit.
What kind of water do you use in a humidifier?
Your priority should be distilled water, purified water and if you don’t have that, you can use tap water. If you have hard water at home, use humidifier tablets or a demineralization cartridge to remove excess minerals.
How do you make distilled water for a humidifier?
To make distilled water, boil water and then capture the vapor and condense it, and collect it back as liquid. You can use a specially designed apparatus with a collection pan and ice pack to condense the vapor. That is your distilled water.
Can I use boiled water instead of distilled water?
If the user manual says to use distilled water specifically, use just that and not boiled water. Distilled water is 100% pure and it has no minerals. Boiled water might have no bacteria or germs, but it will still have minerals.
Is distilled water good for humidifiers?
Many humidifier manufacturers recommend using distilled water for their units. You can make your own distilled water at home, or you can buy it. You can also use a home filtration system to filter your tap water and use it in the unit. Distilled water does not contain minerals so it will not cause white dust. It does not have bacteria and it will not cause mold in the tank.
Final Thoughts: Can You Use Tap Water In A Humidifier?
Once again, we reiterate here… if the only water you have at home is from the tap, use it in your unit. It will not necessarily damage it.
If your budget allows, you should use distilled water or purified water. That way, you do not have to clean your unit too often. There will also be no minerals to clog the filters or create scale on the tank of your unit.
Also, using distilled and purified water is a good way to prevent humidifier white dust. Using the recommended type of water can prolong the life of your unit.
So, can you use regular tap water in a humidifier? Yes you can! Just make sure you clean the unit more often.