Environments with high levels of humidity can be toxic for its inhabitants. These spaces are prone to having mold grow in them. This is dangerous, as prolonged exposure to mold gives rise to severe health issues such as – headaches, joint and muscle pain, respiratory problems, flu-like symptoms, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. It can even lead to death.
Therefore, it is crucial that we maintain the relative humidity levels in our homes within acceptable ranges (between 30% and 50%).
Although buying a dehumidifier is probably the only really effective way to fight humidity in your home, this solution can be costly and sometimes noisy. Therefore, we have chosen to show you some alternatives, that is, to create environment- friendly and cheap handmade moisture absorbers using locally and easily available resources.
But first let’s take a look at how you can check for excessive humidity in your spaces.
Signs of excessive humidity
The best way to check for dampness in your home is to check for the presence of mold growth. You can spot mold growing in the corners of your rooms or on the ceiling.
Other signs to look out for include –
- Musty odors
- Rotting wood
- Water stains
- Condensation droplets on window panes
Battling humidity the natural way
Here are some simple natural tips and tricks to help you keep the humidity levels at bay in your homes:
Salt and essential oil dehumidifier
Surprised? Yes, you read that right! Salt, an ingredient easily available in every household is a simple, yet effective dehumidifier.
Rock salt or Sodium chloride is a desiccant; meaning it has the property to absorb and store moisture from the air.
In other words, it works quite well as a dehumidifier, sans the consumption of electricity. This natural, cheap and non-toxic resource can be easily used to create your own Do-it-yourself dehumidifier. Here’s what you need:
- A container, either a small bottle or two buckets (5 gallon)
- Rock salt, a bag or small quantity, depending on the intended area for use.
DIY Process (with Bottle) :
If you are using a small bottle, cut off its mouth and stretch a cheesecloth, gauze or fibreglass screen around its opening, allowing it to sag a little inwards. Place the salt over the screen (around 1-2 inches thick) and cover it again with another screen. Secure both the screens around the rim of the bottle using rubber bands. Place it in the intended spot. After a while, you will observe water collected within the bottle. Remove the water and reapply the salt as needed. This arrangement is ideal for small areas like cupboards or closets.
You can also add essential oils of your choice to add fragrance to your room. Pour a few drops of the oil onto a cotton and place it at the bottom of the bottle to do the trick.
DIY Process (with buckets)
To dehumidify a large area, use a bucket arrangement. Take two buckets and punch holes on the sides and bottom of one bucket. Place this bucket inside the other one. Fill the inner bucket with rock salt and place the arrangement in the desired spot.
Just as with the bottle arrangement, here too, you will find water collecting in the bottom bucket. Drain the bucket and replenish the inner bucket with more salt, continuing to dehumidify the area as needed.
Charcoal is another commonly available resource that can work well as a dehumidifier. Studies have reported that charcoal is hygroscopic (ability to absorb moisture from the atmosphere) in nature as it is a porous substance.
The larger the pores of the charcoal, the more the absorbent capacity of it. Besides removing excess dampness from spaces, charcoal also removes musty odors caused by poor air circulation in the rooms.
Charcoal based dehumidifier
To make your own charcoal-based dehumidifier, you can use both briquet or lump charcoal. Take a large clean coffee can or a box with a lid and punch holes on it (both can and lids). Place the charcoal inside and close the can well. Your dehumidifier is ready for use.
You can place the can in humid areas such as the bathroom, attic, basement and closet. For best results, remember to replace the charcoal every few months.
Baking soda as a dehumidifier
You can also use baking soda as a quick fix dehumidifier. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate, although less effective when compared to table salt, is still a wonderful natural alternative to store-bought dessicant substances. It is highly useful for dehumidifying small spaces like cabinets, drawers and bathrooms.
Put the baking soda in an open bowl, cover it with a thin cloth and place it in the area which has excessive dampness. You might have to occasionally stir the mixture, once it starts absorbing moisture.
Using silica gel packets
You must have surely received small packets of silica gels along with your new shoes or packaged goods like vitamins, dry fruits etc. Instead of tossing them away the next time, save and reuse them as a natural dehumidifier.
Silica gels are highly porous and are reported to be capable of adsorbing up to 40% of its weight and are highly efficient in reducing dampness in drawers and cupboards.
Silica gels are non-toxic and is also considered to be more effective and a safer method of dehumidifying the environment as compared to calcium chloride.
Calcium chloride, a type of salt is also sometimes used as a dehumidifier. However, prolonged use of this substance can cause adverse affects on one’s health, effecting the respiratory system and causing lung damage. It also has a caustic reaction with metals, resulting in its corrosion. Thus, it is better to avoid using calcium chloride as a natural dehumidifier.
However, it should be noted that silica gel packets must be kept safe and away from the reach of children and pets.
A clay-based dehumidifier is a good alternative to one made of coarse salt. Clay is commonly made by drying calcium bentonite, and the substance which is non-corrosive and non-toxic as compared to calcium chloride, has a high affinity towards water. Clay has a good adsorption capacity at normal temperatures and relative humid levels. Desiccant clay is quite cost-effective and is preferred by most companies to protect their goods from moisture.
To make a clay-based dehumidifier, you may need a :
- Five-litre plastic bottle and a container
- 250 grams to 300 grams of natural clay
- An old cotton cloth.
Cut the top off the container and place it vertically inside the bottle with the neck facing down as if to make a wasp trap.Cut a piece of cloth to match the size of the can and pour the crushed clay onto the fabric so that it can absorb the moisture as it enters through the neck of the container.
You can also use chalk as a dehumidifier. Place some powdered chalk in an old stocking or place chalk pieces tied together in your cupboards and drawers for a nice and dry effect.
Additionally you can combat humidity by:
- Ventilating all your areas. Increasing air flow through your spaces can help reduce humidity.
- Check and fix all leaks. This includes leaking pipes and other fixtures.
- Find a new space for your indoor plants. If not, try covering their exposed soil, to reduce the water from evaporating and to decrease the frequency of watering plants.
- Avoid hanging wet clothes to dry inside. Sometimes even dyers can contribute to increased dampness indoors, despite being vented outside. Try line drying your clothes to reduce the humidity inside.
- Set your air conditioner settings “dry” instead of cool to remove humidity.
Each of these natural dehumidifier method is easy to create, use and is highly effective in reducing the humidity levels within your spaces. Try them out today, and create healthy and safe living spaces for both you and your family.
FYI: The Air Geeks' top-rated dehumidifiers tested in 2019:|
1. Frigidaire - FAD954DWD : the best of the best (very large rooms)
2. Homelabs - 70 Pint: great value (large rooms)
3. Homelabs – 50 Pint: good brand, good price (avg. rooms)
4. Black+Decker - BDT30WTA: a very good entry-level option (small rooms)