Although it hasn’t officially arrived yet, Winter is quickly approaching the Northern Hemisphere, and cold air is already creeping in. Here where I live in Pennsylvania, we’ve already had nights where the mercury has plunged into the low teens (Fahrenheit) and days that have struggled to reach the freezing mark. With these lower temperatures comes much lower humidity levels, and for anyone who plays a wooden instrument, proper Winter humidity levels are a concern. In my house, it is not uncommon to measure humidity levels at or below 20% once Winter settles in, and this type of humidity level is very unhealthy for my fiddles.
A wooden instrument should be exposed to about 40-60% humidity, with 45-55% being the ideal humidity level. This range puts the least stress on the wood components. Extremes in humidity levels or frequent fluctuations (even worse) put stress on the wood and the seams and can result in cracks or splitting seams.
Last Winter, the first with my new fiddle, I used a Dampit which I would soak in water an insert into my fiddle each day after practice. I also used a small ultrasonic humidifier which struggled and failed to keep the humidity up and left white dust all over the furniture and electronic equipment in my practice room (a.k.a. my office) from the minerals in my well water. Now, I have two fiddles, and I didn’t want to deal with the same situation this Winter I found myself in last Winter, so I started looking for a better solution.
Researching all the different types of room humidifiers, I chose the Venta LW45 Airwasher 2-in-1 Humidifier and Air Purifier. This unique, German-made machine claims a coverage of 800 square feet. I figured I could put it in the hallway outside my office and kill two birds with one stone, not only humidifying my practice room, but humidifying my den and bed room as well, since dry winter air is not only unhealthy for fiddles, but humans as well!
The Venta LW45 Airwasher humidifies dry room air while simultaneously purifying it by removing dust, pollen, pet dander, and other airborne pollutants down to 0.3 microns in size. It is a filter-free evaporative humidifier and filter-free air purifier, all in one lightweight unit. It does not produce the white dust as it uses cold evaporation technology. It is hygienic, simple to use and easy to clean. It will help to reduce common cold symptoms caused by dry air like dry skin, chapped lips, and sinus congestion. It will keep allergies under control against dust mites, animal dander, and pollen. Properly humidified air will also eliminate static electricity and work to preserve wooden furniture and musical instruments. Famous violinists, Nigel Kennedy, not only uses Ventas in his home, but insists all venues provide a Venta for his instruments when on the road.
Here is a short video showing how the Venta works.
And, here’s one that goes into a little more depth if you might be considering a humidifier purchase for this season.
I set my Venta up about a week and a half ago when the night temps started dropping into the teens and the day temps have been in the 30’s. So far, my humidity level has stayed around 40% (in my office). This is still not ideal but a great improvement, but I’m sure the dryer air downstairs is “stealing” some of that humidity. (My house is 1700 square feet.)
I played with the idea of either buying a smaller Venta L15 (200 square feet coverage) just for my office or another Venta L45 for the first floor of my house. I decided to order another L45, and it should arrive tomorrow. With the two of them, I will have 1600 square feet of humidifying coverage, just about the size of my house. While the L15 would be less expensive and assure a proper humidity level in my office, another L45 should do the same while making sure my entire house is properly humidified this Winter, and hopefully many Winters to come since the Venta has a 10 year warranty, coverage unheard of when it comes to any type of humidifier. The cost is higher than most humidifiers, but I think the quality of construction and superior technology make it well worth the cost.
The first one I bought on Amazon for $290, but they are now charging $399 (probably because we are in the humidifying season – just like AC’s are more expensive in the summer). The second one I bought I purchased from Sylvane for $349 plus another 5% off with a coupon code, so the final cost was $332. A little over $600 for two. It’s a lot of money to fork out, but I am tired of using humidifiers that don’t really do the job, cause white dust, have to be filled multiple times a day, clog up or die after a couple of seasons.
I’m happy with my solution to the Winter humidity problem, and I’m sure my fiddles will be too!