I generally don’t like winter. Yes, winter is when powdays happen, but I dislike being cold. I apparently don’t have enough warm clothes so I spend most of my days moving slowly unless nearby heat sources…just like a lizard. Note to self, buy more wool sweaters.
My favorite heat source lately has been this slim electric radiator. But despite my love of its constant heat, I know it’s drying out the already dry air in the house. I realized what needed to be done. I need humidifiers. As many as I can get my hands on. Dry air causes dry skin, but also frizzy hair, static-y dogs, even nosebleeds and congestion. Sadly, I have all of those things.
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I searched for modern humidifiers and didn’t find much. Well, one that I liked was out of the budget right now (because I had just bought a cycledesk). I already have two of these cold-mist ultrasonic humidifiers, but I was looking for something that wouldn’t pull electricity. Then I saw the As Seen On TV ceramic ball humidifiers. Bingo.
All I needed was the concept, not the product. So I got to thinking about what I had on hand and was suddenly inspired by a self-watering planter that I got from IKEA. They don’t sell it anymore, and I can’t find other commercial versions. And sadly I don’t live near Tiny Badger Ceramics otherwise I would ask her if she could fire me a duplicate with her beautiful porcelain. So without her talents I turned to what I do have:
- terra cotta plant pots
- glass vases
I put the three together, et voilà – a simple humidifier that looks nice by the electric radiator. I might even add a few drops of an essential oil for passive diffusion. When I stopped trying to replicate the IKEA planter (which is filled with plain water in my Plant Hospice room), I saw that all you need is a object to wick away moisture and a water reservoir. This could be as low tech as clay bricks in a bucket. But if you have access to people and/or facilities you could make any shape clay wicks, and use any non-porous container for the water. Possibilities are endless.
- Related: Air Plant Placement & Care
If you enjoy this simple & neutral humidifier, here is what I did so you can follow along.
- Gather supplies:
- 5″x5″ cylindrical glass vase (I used this one)
- 4″ terra cotta planter (on-hand from a home improvement retailer, was $0.79)
- Clean your glass and terra cotta as needed, wiping with a damp tack cloth is plenty
- Wet the planter inside and out (optional; this is just to get the wicking action started ASAP)
- Place the planter in the vase
- Add water
That’s it. From here all you need to do is keep water in contact with the planter, so when you see the water line drop and the planter become more light than dark -add water.
Why? Water that isn’t being wicked up into the pot will become stagnant, but will slowly evaporate. If you want the water to simply evaporate into the air, remove the pot to promote air flow on the water’s surface. Mine is placed near a radiator, but away from curious dogs. Other good locations include open shelves, countertops, and anywhere else you would display objects.
That was the point with this humidifier -to be functional and display worthy.
We need to have a quick talk about mold.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that your damp, indoor, porous pot might harbor a mold spore. I don’t like it either – mold evokes a strong disgust reaction with me, so my tolerance for it is low. Just keep an eye on your terra cotta. If your otherwise clean pot appears to be growing mold it probably is.
No need to panic. Just dump out the water, and scrub everything with hot soapy water. If the terra cotta won’t be used for plants anytime soon, carefully dab some bleach on the pot and let it further disinfect in the sun if possible. If the pot (like mine) will soon be used for plants, use white vinegar instead, add more sunny days, and rinse again before adding potting soil.
Again, mold is gross. But it’s a natural product that loves these conditions. Happy humidifying!