Humidity and Your Singing Voice – 2nd Edition

This was one of my more popular blog posts, so I have updated it with some new information as well as some buying suggestions.  Please enjoy.

Don’t Let Your Voice Dry Out

Every singer has experienced this:  you keep drinking water and yet your throat feels constantly dry.  This can be caused by low humidity levels in your environment.

Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air.  This can have a great effect on your voice.

Dry air is hard on the vocal cords – every breath you take is filled with moisture-starved air, which can dry the mucosal tissue.

In some areas it is so bad that singers have names for it such as “Vegas Throat.”

 

Sleep Time

Sleeping in a dry room is particularly hard on the voice.  How many of us wake up parched and croaky?

When sleeping, we spend a number of hours breathing through our mouths and not drinking water.

In winter you have already dry winter air, that has been further cooked in your heater, and now you have a real problem for your vocal cords.

 

What To Do

There are two items I recommend to monitor and combat this.  The first is called a hygrometer.  This is basically a device that can give you a reading of the humidity inside of a particular room.  Optimal is around 50%.  Below 45% becomes a problem.

You can find hygrometers at Amazon.com.

Hygrometer

 

If you find humidity is less than ideal you should use a humidifier.  These come in either cool or warm mist.  Both will work fine.  You can run it in your practice room and sleeping area to get humidity back to 50%.  Any higher than 55% is not a good idea as mold and other issues can occur.

Make sure you keep your humidifier clean as you don’t want it sending bacteria into the air.

Start running the humidifier an hour or two before bedtime.  This will help create a more ideal environment for sleeping.

There are two basic types of humidifiers, warm or cool mist.

Cool mist are more efficient, but can be noisier and less comfortable during cold winter nights.  Warm mist use more electricity due to boiling the water, and can be harder to clean because of mineral deposits, but the mist is more comfortable in a cold room and also cleaner due to the boiling process. Warm mist humidifiers work better in smaller rooms as they put less moisture into the air than a cool mist.

I also recommend a travel size humidifier when on tour.  If you are not used to desert or high altitude climates you can be in for a shock as to how dry they can get.

 

Nebulizer

This is definitely one of the most effective tools I have found lately.  A number of my high-profile clients have been taking a nebulizer on tour in order to keep their cords moist and healthy.

What is this nebulizer? It is a device that turns liquids into a very fine mist. The mesh nebulizer I recommend has a mesh with thousands of laser drilled holes that the liquid is pushed through, turning it into tiny, breathable droplets.

The key is to put sterilized saline solution into the nebulizer and breathe the mist.  This puts moisture directly onto your vocal cords.

Saline solution was found by researchers to be much more effective in staying on the vocal cords than just water.

Here is a short video demonstrating a nebulizer in use:

You can purchase the portable mesh nebulizer shown above HERE.

I have also found a less expensive version HERE that looks promising, though I have not used this particular model.

The saline solution is available HERE.  I use the 5 ml size.

Get Your Drink On

A humidifier or nebulizer is in no way a replacement for drinking enough water.  Proper hydration of the cords is extremely important. You want enough moisture in your body as well as your environment.

You need to keep in mind that any liquid you drink does not touch your vocal cords, in fact, if it does will will start coughing as it went down the wrong way!

The rule of thumb most Ear Nose and Throat Doctors will tell you is drink enough so that your urine is clear.  This will properly hydrate you at the cellular level.

Remember – hydrated vocal cords are happy vocal cords.