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Thread: Humidify

  1. #1
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    Default Humidify

    How does everybody handle humidifying their instruments? Does a regular home humidifier work? Does anyone use those in case humidifiers for their manndolins? (Like the ones used for guitars.)

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    Better late than never walt33's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidify

    I use a very simple in-case humidifier: a small, damp, kitchen sponge inside a two-piece plastic soap dish. Seems to work fine, and the price is right. You just have to think to check every week or so to make sure the sponge hasn't dried out. Only downside so far has been that this summer, the case started to stink. So I put it out in strong sunlight for a couple of days and it seemed to be OK after that.

    Walt

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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidify

    Replace the sponge and clean the soap case if either gets moldy.
    Eastman 605, Strad-o-lin, and Kentucky 300e mandolins.

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    The Bloomingtones earthsave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidify

    Quote Originally Posted by walt33 View Post
    I use a very simple in-case humidifier: a small, damp, kitchen sponge inside a two-piece plastic soap dish. Seems to work fine, and the price is right. You just have to think to check every week or so to make sure the sponge hasn't dried out. Only downside so far has been that this summer, the case started to stink. So I put it out in strong sunlight for a couple of days and it seemed to be OK after that.

    Walt

    To avoid mold and such, just buy a gallon of distilled water. The impurities in tap and filtered water will eventually promote mold.

    A digital hygrometer (humidity meter) by the case will give you a good feel for the humidity in the room and when it starts changing. Like as the weather gets colder and people begin using forced air heat and the air gets drier.

    I get out the room humidifier when this happens.
    Scot
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    Default Re: Humidify

    Thank you for the replys! I am assuming you keep the soap dish in the cpmpartment. The compartment in the Collings case I am wondering if it will fit. Does anyone else use any othe technige for humidity control?

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidify

    Quote Originally Posted by earthsave View Post
    To avoid mold and such, just buy a gallon of distilled water. The impurities in tap and filtered water will eventually promote mold.
    With all due respect, that is a myth. I have some experience here using distilled water in medical breating devices. Mold spores are in the ambient air, all the time. They thrive on moisture, any kind of moisture, to create the physical manifestation we call "mold." I think this myth has spread due to various makers of products that use water requiring distilled water in thier product instructons. They do that to cut down on warranty claims. "You didn't use distilled water and got mold? Well you didn't follow instructions, so you're out of luck!"

    I have used most of the humidifiers on the market at one time or another over many years. The only time I got mold in a humidifier was with a Planet Waves unit that I only used distilled water in, in order to comply with the product instructions. I now use the "sponge in a soap case" method, with tap water, and I have never had a problem.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Humidify

    I think the distilled water is about mineral build-up, not mold, but it has been misunderstood in the Cafe's periodic humidifier discussions. I also suspect that the chlorine in tap water may, if anything, inhibit cooties.

    Most homemade or store-bought humidifiers are cheap enough that you don't need to worry about what kind of water you use. I like Perrier in mine.

    Some strong Cafe opinions usually emerge about the uselessness or danger of humidification, but my bet is that these come from people who don't live in particularly dry conditions. Another faction will push room or house humidification, which may be the only way to go if you leave instruments uncased.

    I'm in the apparent minority that likes the readily available and frequently maligned "Dampits." They are easy and safe to use: dunk it, squeeze-blot it with a rag, and throw it in a corner of your case (doesn't have to be in the strings and hanging in the body). I like that they don't hold a ton of water, and that they are small and soft (I use the violin size), and unlikely to beat up the instrument.

    They won't work for uncased instruments, and they do need to be tended near-daily, at least where I live. That tells me they're working.
    Last edited by San Rafael; Oct-31-2008 at 2:34pm. Reason: Felt like it.

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidify

    Quote Originally Posted by Ctone View Post
    Thank you for the replys! I am assuming you keep the soap dish in the cpmpartment. The compartment in the Collings case I am wondering if it will fit. Does anyone else use any othe technige for humidity control?
    No, don't put them in the accessory compartment. That will only humidify your picks. The soap case should either fit sideways at the end of the case, possibly held in place by the very end of the headstock; or under the headstock just ahead of the accessory compartment. If that won't work, an alternative is to find plastic 35mm film cannisters (remember those?), poke many holes in the top and bottom and put a piece of sponge in each. You should be able to fit 2-4 of them in your case, around the headstock, and around the neck heel. There is no problem with them rattling around a little in there. The plastic is soft enough that they won't harm the instrument. You can probably get some at a camera store. You can also find similar sized plastic containers at camping stores. Be creative...

  9. #9
    The Bloomingtones earthsave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidify

    Then it is a myth pervasive through the cigar community. Humidors are maintained from 60-70% humidity and temps around 70 degrees. You may not get mold growth in an instrument case at the lower humidities you would want for instrument storage, but I guarantee you will in no time in a humidor if you do not use distilled water.

    At less than a dollar a gallon and available anywhere, that is pretty good insurance.
    Scot
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  10. #10
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidify

    Well, not being a cigar guy, I can't argue from direct experience, but a quick search of the cigar.com message board had two posts complaining that they got mold using distilled water, following all other instructions. I also know that when researchers study mold, they use distilled water to grow the spores. According to the EPA website, mold will happen with enought moisture, period. It does not differentiate what kind of moisture. So who knows?

  11. #11

    Default Re: Humidify

    I prefer to use an automatic room humidifier in my bedroom. I keep my mandolin hanging on the wall in there where it is easy to grab and play whenever I am inclined. Humidifying the whole room keeps both the instrument and myself comfortable.

    Extremes of low and high humidity are what really can cause havoc with wooden items - like mandolins. One example: I have a crack in an oak stair landing in my house which opens up about 3/8th of an inch every winter, and closes up entirely every summer.

    My view is that a basic case humidier like the soap dish items mentioned (homemade or store bought) introduces a good deal of moisture into a small enclosed area when it is 1st placed in the case, and if it is left to dry out completely, before reintroducing the soaked sponge again, you are allowing for a fair amount of fluctuation. Probably not enough to cause buckling or cracking, but certainly not as good as being kept in a relatively constant room environment.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Humidify

    the only benefit to distilled water that there may be is that it should be significantly lower in micro-organisms than tap water is, so you seed fewer mold spores. The water doesn't need to provide food for mold, that can come from the objects the mold grows on. Whether this small difference in "mold seeding" matters is another argument.

    If you live in a desert and have high-mineral content water I guess you could eventually grow salt crystals in your sponge. Or in the case of Pittsburg, iron nuggets.

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