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Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-02-25 03:17

I'm grappling with this again as the air in our home has dried out over the past couple of months. We run a whole-house furnace humidifier and have added smaller humidifiers in specific rooms. The hygrometers I have show a whole range of relative humidity levels that can differ by as much as 20%. I have four in my practice studio - three digital and one analog - that right now read 28%, 33%, 38% and 48%. About all I can conclude is that we are under the 50% the furnace humidifier is set to provide.

I have checked two of my meters and one other we're using in a different room in sealed zip lock bags with Boveda humidipacks, but none of them reach the 72% level the packs are supposed to maintain. Leaving me with not knowing if the problem is the hygrometers or the humidipacks (which are a little old but until now unused and stored in their own sealed bags).

What do all of you who monitor your indoor humidity levels use to measure it?


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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2021-02-25 05:30

I don't bother. Just the reeds and one wood clarinet to protect.
Would a fan better distribute the humidity for more even numbers? Or more expensive Hygrometers? Not an expert, only throwing out some thoughts.

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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-02-25 07:17

Ken Lagace wrote:

> I don't bother. Just the reeds and one wood clarinet to
> protect.

It has as much to do with static shocks and dried nasal passages as with keeping my clarinets and reeds (and my wife's viola and violin) at proper humidity.

> Would a fan better distribute the humidity for more even
> numbers?

Three of them are next to each other on the same file cabinet. No distribution to improve.

> Or more expensive Hygrometers?

Well, that's a major part of my question. But, apparently, relative humidity is an elusive thing to determine. There are a number of ways to do it and there's not a really foolproof way of checking an individual hygrometer's accuracy. There are meters that are used by professional meteorologists, which are pricey (four digits left of the decimal point), and many home models seem designed more for decorative value. I'm hoping others may have actually discovered reliable meters.

> Not an expert, only throwing out some thoughts.

That makes at least two (probably many more) of us. :)


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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: Nelson 
Date:   2021-02-25 11:34

In Australia the humidity levels are all over the place so a few months ago I purchased two very small digital hygrometers through AliBaba. The size is close to 5cm long by nearly 3cm wide with the main display being humidity % with the temperature quarter-size in the top right-hand corner. The cost was unbelievably low at AU$2.50 each with free to Aust. Quite well made but not sure of accuracy although the two are registering the same reading (and changing !!)


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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-02-25 13:59

When I was using cane I just had s simple $10 thermometer/hygrometer from the hardware store and noted what was happening in a central room of the house at good reed times vs bad reed times. 20% was really bad and not uncommon during winter and home heating months. 60% and above was good and not uncommon in Summer.

While in Orlando I ditched both the hygrometer and cane..........but cane was ALWAYS good down there. The only thing that was good about Orlando.

.....................Paul Aviles

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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-02-25 18:12

Paul Aviles wrote:

> When I was using cane I just had s simple $10
> thermometer/hygrometer from the hardware store and noted what
> was happening in a central room of the house at good reed times
> vs bad reed times. 20% was really bad and not uncommon during
> winter and home heating months. 60% and above was good and not
> uncommon in Summer.

I take it as axiomatic that 20% is too low either for reed health or my nasal and skin comfort. And I can only get a hygrometer to budge beyond 40% if I open the windows and let the outdoor moisture in during a rain storm or, right now, when the foot or so of snow we had over the course of last week is melting furiously in our current daytime highs of 40°-50°. In summer the AC dries the inside air out. In winter, it's the forced air furnace. There are maybe a few weeks during the fall and spring when neither is turned on and we have the windows open.

I know what relative humidity levels I want to shoot for, but I'm becoming increasingly frustrated trying to find an accurate way of measuring it. I can tell if it's really low - static shocks whenever I touch anything made of metal and the skin develops cracks around my finger knuckles. I can tell if it's higher than really low - the shocks stop and my skin stops cracking around my knuckles. And of course, my reeds reflect the difference to a similar level of accuracy. So I can read two levels - "way too low" and "not way too low" without mechanical or electronic help. I just feel driven to a more reliable, accurate way to refine that higher level a little. The goal is to be able to apply a little prevention instead of having to react after bad effects begin to appear. I guess I can just take the two readings that are only a couple of percentage points apart and assume they're right by majority vote. :)

One funny thing is that I'm starting to notice the weather apps on my phone have begun reporting "Indoor relative humidity" levels. I can't figure out how they know or whose home they're measuring it in.


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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: Luuk 2017
Date:   2021-02-25 20:03

You can check and adjust a hygrometer in the following way:
- wrap it in a really humid cloth (not dripping, but almost) and leave it for some hours. It should read about 98-100%. Use this reading for adjusting the offset.
- put plenty of salt (just the houshold type) in a jar or pot, add water so it gets really wet (half a cup of salt plus a quarter cup of water). Put the hygrometer above the wet salt (f.i. by means of a small plastic block put in the middle) and close the lid, airtight (alternatively put all in a sealed plastic bag). Leave it overnight. It should read 75%. Use this reading for adjusting the range.


Philips Symphonic Band
The Netherlands

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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-02-25 21:33

Thanks! I've been mistrustful of the Boveda packs because of their age. Some of the ones I have feel slightly granular even though I've kept them in the ziplock-type bags they came in.

I once had instructions given to me by my first clarinet teacher for making a reed humidor that involved a salt mush like this. I've long ago lost those instructions and had forgotten (or maybe the instructions didn't say) that it would maintain the humidity inside the container at 75%.


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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2021-02-27 05:35

I also don't bother.

What concerns me isn't keeping the humidity in a certain range, but rather making sure that there are no abrupt changes, like what happens when you move an instrument from a humidified case into a dry environment.

Same holds true for abrupt temperature changes.

Sixty years playing. About ten clarinets in blackwood, rosewood, and mopane. One cracked bell shortly after purchase. I think what I'm doing (or not doing) works.

(I don't humidify reeds either.)


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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2021-02-27 13:22

My office/music room convection (hot water) radiator is stuck off but the distribution pipes pass through the floor and the temperature is 19-20°C all winter (mild weather usually in low-altitude-sort-of-to-the-south-of France). I keep the door closed and humidify with a unit suggested by my guitar luthier, a 5L baby room humidifier with an automatic setting. I keep it on a low output and 50% trigger. Sometimes I use a fan that I have anyway for our very hot summers. It just kicks in whenever necessary. Humidity readings are between 48 and 55% for a 50% setting and very consistant across the digital meters and in the cases (got some neat mini-meters from earspasm). This seems to do the trick and once I am in the room to work or play clarinet, humidity also goes up. Too bad for the cats ! Their long coats need daily brushing and we get a lot of uncomfortable sparks doing that but they are NOT allowed in the music room !

And just a thought : once upon a time I saw a dried plant material hygrometer that curled and uncurled quite dramatically as humidity changed. This seems like such a good visual, so easy to read even from a distance, I'd love to find one of these again (or make one) if anybody remembers how this is done and what plant material to use.

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 Re: Hygrometers
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-02-28 00:04

Karl: unlike your talk about humidity, mine centers here only around that of my reeds.

That said, as I'm sure you would also conclude, the humidity levels you are reading, at least in the confined space that your resting reeds lie, if in fact wrong, could be a product of 0 - 3 factors: hydrometer, Boveda pack, and storage case.,

I use this for my reed storage as opposed to a plastic zip lock bag:

This was the product Rico rebranded a few years back, I think before D'Addario get in the business, to store their reeds.

Maybe its your plastic bag (or your hydrometer or Boveda packs :) ).

FWIW, and I suspect little, I got my hydrometers from Michael Lowenstern over at and my packs directly from Boveda. I say this to no way disparage either vendors, but I'm sure Mike isn't in his kitchen quality controlled his hydrometers (probably laughing if he's reading this) but what he sells seems to me to correspond well in humidity readings with the humidity level Boveda packs I'm using and serves as my indication that it is time to change packs.

I put two packs in the aforementioned case with Vandoren reed holders holding all my brands of reeds (Behn, Vandoren, Dolce, etc.)

And I have extra Vandoren cases not because any reed I've ever bought from Vandoren wasn't perfect right out of the box and lasted years (NOT!!) but because I have one or two extra (moving boxes worth of) reed cases.

Post Edited (2021-02-28 00:14)

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