Well, it is most distinctly that time of year; the time when you begin to wonder what you ever did to make the wind hate you so much, when you start to doubt that summer ever really existed. In short, the time when you think that it is COLD.
And, as your cracking hands and wind-chapped face can attest, this does not make bodies happy. Cold basically leeches moisture from the air (and thus from the bodies that come in contact with the air), and the heat that is pumped into buildings to counteract the cold only makes this worse. And for singers, this can be a terrible problem – in addition to making the voice sound hoarse, dry vocal cords run the risk of developing nodes down the line, and that is no good for anyone.
Thus, hydration is key. And while the best way to hydrate will always be drinking water and liquids (a good guideline is that if your pee is clear, you’re drinking enough!), in the winter months especially it is helpful to get a humidifier to combat the dryness in the air. Some, like Celine Dion, may be able to afford to have a machine created large enough to make sure that the theater in which she performs maintains an ideal 55% humidity level. But, for the rest of us, something more like this will have to do:
Well, okay, maybe it doesn’t have to look QUITE like that (although isn’t that cute?)
Seriously, though, Froggy above does prove just how many types and forms of humidifiers there are out there. So we thought we would provide a little guide to what you should be looking for in a humidifier:
1. Cool or Warm Mist – these are the two main kinds of humidifiers, so called because of the temperature of their respective mists (duh!). There isn’t much difference between the two in terms of benefits to the voice or effectiveness at humidifying the air, so it’s really up to you. Here in freezing New York, anything with the word ‘cool’ in it seems unthinkable, so we would say go for the warm in this particular climate.
2. Anti-bacterial – These models are a little more expensive than the regular kind, but they are key. Any environment that is wet can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, and you’re not helping yourself out if you’re hydrating the air with buggy mist.
3. Easily cleanable – This is a must. Almost all humidifiers require their tanks to be cleaned and their filters changed, or else you’re back to the gross bacteria-laden air. It is vital to find out how easy both of these tasks are; pay special attention to the tanks, which, if they fill from the bottom, might require bizarre arm-twisting exercises in order to get the gunk out.
4. Loudness – Another key feature to consider. While some humidifiers are nearly silent, others can sound like a jet engine taking off. If your humidifier is going to be on in your bedroom while you sleep, make sure to get a quiet one.
Beyond these guidelines, it’s up to you. There are big humidifiers and small ones, noisy and quiet, ones shaped like frogs and ones shaped like Hello Kitty. But whichever you choose, consider it a good investment in the maintenance of your voice!