What Type of Water Do You Use In A Humidifier?

Whether it be the dry winter air or the stuffy nose and cracked lips, a humidifier is just the solution to all of them. But what type of water do you use in a humidifier? Do you need anything special? Or any common sources of water will do?

Your humidifier needs some distilled water. Now, this does not completely rule out other usual options like bottled water, purified water, etc., and we’ll get into the details in a minute.

What Type of Water Should I Use in a Humidifier?

We already know that distilled water is the best for humidifier water. It has been proven over and over with actual logic behind it.

So, what is distilled water, and why is it considered the best when it comes to humidifiers?

Distilled water is a type of purified water that has been treated to remove any minerals, particles, and bacteria that are usually present in common water sources.

For this, water is boiled into an evaporated state and then condensed back into liquid form in a different container.

Simultaneously, the minerals and particles previously existing in it are separated from the condensed water to use as distilled water.

4 Reasons Why Distilled Water is Best for Humidifiers

The preference for distilled water in humidifiers is backed up by a few pieces of logic.

  • Efficiently Improves Air Quality

The first one is the performance of your humidifier. Distilled water is proven to increase the humidifier’s performance and improve the air quality at your home.

  • Doesn’t Evaporate Minerals Inside the Water

Most humidifiers tend to create white humidifier dust, which basically evaporates dissolved minerals inside the water. But distilled water, having no particles or minerals, solves this problem.

  • Reduces the Chance of Mold Spores

The next reason you should use distilled water is that it has the least chance of mold spores. And who wants their humidifier to have a whole mold colony growing in it just because of the wrong choice of water?

  • Requires Less Maintenance

And the final one is simply because it helps you keep your humidifier clean for much longer. Fewer minerals or particles, less build-up, and less effort for maintenance!

What Type of Water We Should Not Use in A Humidifier

We’ve seen what type of water we should use in a humidifier. But what type we should not use?

Actually, there are a few common sources of water that many of us use but are not recommended.

1.    Tap Water

The most common question a new humidifier owner asks themselves is, “can you use tap water in a humidifier?” I, myself, have used them for my humidifier a few times until I knew better.

Tap water is not, in any way, recommended for use in a humidifier. This is because they contain a good amount of dissolved minerals which can and will damage your humidifier if used long enough.

And let’s not forget about the humidifier dust from the dissolved minerals that are bound to worsen the air quality.

Moreover, the particles and solids from the water can deposit on the interior wall. And the build-up is bad enough to leave scales which, let me tell you, is an absolute horror.

Also, imagine doing the clean-up more than average, as you’ll need to clean them more frequently.

If the crusty scales are not yet to convince you, the molds growing in them definitely will. Build-ups are basically the get-go needed for the birth of different microorganisms. And before you know it, your humidifier will be full of growing molds and bacteria.

However, if you ABSOLUTELY have to use tap water for some reason, a demineralization cartridge helps minimize the minerals and the related problems to some extent.

2.    Bottled Water

Another common question regarding this factor is,” can you use bottled water for a humidifier?”. Still the same answer: yes, but not recommended.

Most of our drinking water is from bottled water, and I’ve seen the manufacturers claiming that they come from natural springs, wells, and surface water.

So, even though they are later treated to remove any solid particles, there are still dissolved minerals in them. This leads us to the same problems we face with tap water.

Now, it might be okay for you to use drinking water for a while if you don’t have any access to distilled water. But switching back to distilled water as soon as possible is advised.

3.    Boiled Water

Boiled water is another controversial choice for humidifiers. This one is highly debated since most people think they are similar to distilled water since they are also boiled. 

So, can boiling water be used as an alternative to a humidifier? The answer, yet again, is yes! but not recommended.

Distilled water, when condensed, is collected in a DIFFERENT container to separate the minerals.

However, boiled water stays in the same container, so they still contain dissolved minerals.

They are, however, free from bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. But the dissolved minerals are still there. In fact, as the water evaporates, the mineral concentration rises by a few percent. So, now you have MORE minerals in LESS water.

Humidifier Water: Hot/Cold?

Let’s talk about the water temperature. There’s a reason why it is advised to use the humidifier water at room temperature.

For starters, hot water dissolves solid particles. If that’s not bad enough, hot water from the tap will seize minerals and scales from the inside of the pipe.

So, it’s even worse than using normal tap water. This will effectively mess up your humidifier if done long enough.

Besides, hot water is never good for electrical and mechanical components for obvious reasons. So, it’s wise to refrain from using it so as not to cause any potential damage.

Then there’s the fact that warm water will kick start the growth of molds and bacteria in the cozy environment.

As for cold water, they cause the humidifier to work much harder to warm up the water to a comfortable temperature. Especially since most humidifiers these days, are warm-mist types.

Make Your Own Distilled Water at HOME

Imagine this, you have no distilled water at home, and getting some soon enough is not possible either.

Don’t worry; you can make your own distilled water at home with just 3 simple things;

  • A large pot
  • A glass bowl small enough to fit inside the large pot
  • And some ice

Step 1- Arrangement

First, you gotta fill the pot halfway and place the glass bowl inside so it floats on top of the water surface.

You can also use a baking rack to support the bowl. Make sure there is enough space inside the pot for the steam to circulate.

After that, place the lid upside down on the pot, so it’s inverted, and half your work is done.

Step – Boil the Water

Now put the pot with the whole setup on the stove and start boiling the water. As the water inside starts to evaporate, put some ice cubes on the lid.

Step – Condensation

Wait as the water steam inside circulates and comes in touch with the inverted area on the top. The ice cubes will cool down the steam, and simultaneously the cooled water will drip down the top into the bowl.

Step – Collect the Water

This collected water inside the bowl is separated from the dissolved minerals inside the pot water. And there you have your distilled water.

How to Stop Bacteria from Growing in Humidifier Water?

Sometimes, you can use distilled water in your humidifier and still have molds and bacteria growing in it. For that, we have some effective tips that can help you.

Tip 1 – Frequent Water Changes

First and most importantly, change the water often. Distilled or not, water sitting in the tank for a long time will definitely cause build-ups and spikes in mold growth.

Changing and cleaning the water more often is definitely worth the effort if it saves you from the nightmare of molds and bacteria.

Tip 2 – Monthly Deep Clean

Besides changing the water, do a deep cleaning of the whole unit once a month. You’ll thank yourself.

Tip 3 – Avoid Damp Areas

The damp area around the humidifier is a no-no. Leaving it on all the time will lead to a higher moisture content that can effectively lead to mold growth.

Tip 4 – Necessary Replacement

Replacing an old and worn-out humidifier is always a good decision. Old worn-out parts have crooks and crevices which tend to host mold spores.

Also, most old ones have mineral deposits that are just too stubborn to remove and stimulate bacterial growth.

Frequently Asked Question

  • What can I use instead of distilled water in my humidifier?

Mineral water is a good alternative to distilled water. You can also make it with the glass bowl method mentioned in this article.

  • Is distilled or purified water better for a humidifier?

Distilled water is way better for a humidifier. While purified water is processed to remove any impurities, they still contain minerals, unlike distilled water.


Hope now you are fully aware of what type of water should you use in a humidifier. Remember, distilled water is always the right option to go with. However, you can use mineral water temporarily.

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Billy J. Weber

Hi. It’s Weber, founder and author of this site Currently you are reading. I am dedicated to provide valuable insights and practical tips to air enthusiasts and anyone interested in improving their indoor air quality.

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