Aroma diffuser with essential oils have been used by people around the world for centuries for everything from religious purposes to healing the sick.
Today, people rely on essential oils to improve health, including to improve relaxation and sleep, to improve digestion, and to improve the skin. Because of their high concentration, essential oils often are used with a diffuser that releases molecules of the essential oils into the air that you inhale and come into contact with.
The oils enter your body and immediately begin to work to help improve your health.
One of most popular ways to enjoy essential oil is by scenting the air, using an aroma diffuser. But how do you select an aroma diffuser that is suitable for your needs?
As a daily essential oil user and a researcher in the field of aromatherapy technology, I have used most types of aroma diffusers. I have summarised my experience and research results from interviews with other aroma users in this blog post:
- Evaporative Diffuser
Examples of this type of diffuser are reed diffusers (as illustrated), or diffusers that use scented beads. This is the most hands-off diffuser available because you do not have to do anything, just leave it to nature to evaporate the delicious aroma into the air.
However, most evaporative diffusers need extra materials such as the reed or beads, which influence oil purity and in some cases may interact with the essential oil chemistry. Some reed diffusers also add extra chemicals onto the oils, so that the aroma can travel up the reed sticks more quickly. Without the help of fan or sufficient air flow, it is hard for aroma from evaporative diffuser to spread in your room.
- Heat Diffuser
Examples of this type are burning diffusers that come in pretty glass containers, or candle diffusers that heat up essential oil. While heat diffusers are very popular in spas, partly because of the warm glowing light, they are in my opinion the most dangerous type of aroma diffuser. Dangerous because it involves open fire, and the heat also changes the molecular makeup of essential oil. Essential oils are very delicate, and in the pure form they have many benefits for the human body and mind. However, with heat, the delicate intricate molecules get destroyed. These diffusers may smell nice, but they really waste the goodness of essential oil.
- Humidifying/Ultrasonic Diffuser
Ultrasonic diffusers use water as medium for the essential oil, and you can spot them in most electronic/lifestyle shops from their distinctive cool mist. Some of them even come with speakers and mood light. Ultrasonic diffusers add humidity into the air, making them the perfect choice for dry regions or constant users of air conditioning. However, this added humidity can also cause problems starting from moldy furniture, wet stains and clammy feeling especially for regions with humidity. This type of diffuser also needs frequent water refill and cleaning. With the high volume of water needed to diffuse essential oil, usually ultrasonic diffusers have a larger size, and can spill easily.
- Nebulizing Diffuser
Nebulizing diffusers pump air to blow and transform the essential oil into fine vapor. It does not require water or heat, allowing nebulizing diffusers to preserve the purity of essential oil. This diffuser is perfect for frequent users of aroma, or people who want to benefit from the therapeutic properties essential oils, beyond the nice smell. The drawback of this diffuser is that it has somewhat more noise than other diffusers, which may bother some in a quiet bedroom, but otherwise would be barely noticeable.
As a strong believer of therapeutic effects of aromatherapy, I believe that the benfits come from the intricate molecular makeup of essential oils, directly extracted from nature. Preserving purity of essential oil is my top priority, which is why nebulzing diffusion is my preferred way of diffusing essential oil.
As for my brand Aromeo’s smart aroma diffusers, we selected the nebulizing diffusion method to be the basis of our technology, to come together with flexible manual and app control. But knowing that other types of diffusers are more suitable for some users, such as ultrasonic type for dry regions/weather, we plan to keep designing innovative new solutions by giving a twist to users’ favorite technologies. Stay tuned!
Many people use essential oils to boost their immune system, improve their mood, increase energy, relieve stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and ease congestion. It is important to note that you may experience an irritation if you put the oil directly onto your skin or ingest it, and people often get better results when they use it with an essential oil diffuser. That’s why we have rounded up some of the best essential oil diffusers to use at home or in the office.
Searching for the best home or office aroma diffuser? You type “aroma diffuser” or similar into your browser search bar and wham! Instant overwhelm!
What’s the difference? Why do some cost more? Are they safe for my family and friends?
Many diffusers look exactly the same on the outside, but on the inside, they are completely different. Consider the photo below. The diffuser on the left is a nebulizing diffuser that emits pure essential oil in bursts. The other is a humidifier and vibrates water to put out fog that you drip scent into. They couldn’t be more different, but how would you know that by looking at them?
Left: An essential oil nebulizing diffuser. Right: An ultrasonic vapoizer that emits mostly water.
The shopping sites I visited offered little help. I did four searches on a well known site. I searched “waterless scent diffuser” and “nebulizing aroma diffuser” and “best scent diffuser” and “essential oil diffuser”. All four searches returned the very same diffuser selection – only varying the order! And worse yet, every diffuser that appeared used water – even though I had typed “water free” and “waterless” as search terms. Geez!
I’m a diffuser expert! How would a non-professional know what they were seeing?!
Fortunately help is here! We’ve been building and providing diffusers to hotels, businesses, aquariums and even hospitals since 2005. So here’s your quick expert guide about the types of aroma diffusers with pros and cons of each.
There are 5 common types of electronic aroma diffusers for home and office use. They are:
Ultrasonic vaporizers – the most common – are not really diffusers. They are humidifiers. Tell tale sign: They require water.
Evaporators – are the type that you drip your scent oil onto a plate or ring and it evaporates with heat. Tell tell sign: A heated plate.
Fan diffusers – have a fan that blows over gel or a scented pad. Tell tale sign: You guessed it…a fan.
Vacuum diffusers – the kind with the glass bulb and tiny tubes inside it. Tell tale sign: Glass and a loud buzz Spicoli.
Nebulizing diffusers – have a pump that and emits aroma from the top in bursts of mist. Tell tale sign: timed bursts of very fine mist.
Let’s quickly examine the benefits and drawbacks to each.
Ultrasonic vaporizing diffusers or UVDs: First the good. They are cheap! They can be quite attractive. They are quiet. They are easy to use: Fill with water and add a few drops of your favorite scent. Turn it on and a cool fog pours out with a bit of your aroma in it. The bad? Mold. Consumer Reports says that every UVD they tested grew and emitted mold. Even those marked as “germ free” and “anti-bacterial.” Consumer Reports said you have to clean them daily and let them dry completely before refilling. And a few drops of essential oil will NOT be enough to sanitize the water. Water and essential oils don’t mix – they separate. So what you see coming out is not aroma – it’s 99.9% water vapor – with a tiny bit or aroma.
“Every ultrasonic diffuser Consumer Reports tested grew and emitted mold”
Bottom line: Too much work for me. Lots of cleaning and drying. Little scent. I don’t need humidity and mold in my space.
Evaporating style diffusers: These include reed diffusers and the type with porous stones or shells on a heating plate. They are quiet and they can scent a very small space like a bathroom. I like how they look. The drawbacks are that reeds are not super effective if you want essential oils. And the plates – due to the aroma or essential oil poured on the rocks – will get dust stuck to them. If you are willing to clean the rocks are shells weekly, they are a good diffusers for small spaces.
Bottom line: Lots of cleaning. Little scent.
Fan Driven Diffusers: This type of diffuser can be very effective if the fan is powerful. Small units can scent a car or bath. Here’s what we hear from clients that use them: Whether battery driven or plug in, fans use a lot of energy – batteries or AC. They are probably the loudest type of diffuser. But there is more important problem: You can’t regulate the scent. Whether the unit blows over a chemical cartridge or has a pad you drip the scent onto, either way, it’s potent to start out and diminishes in potency each hour, day, week. How do you regulate that?
Bottom line: Loud. Not energy efficient. Tough to regulate scent.
Vacuum Style Diffusers: This type has a glass bulb with tiny glass tubes inside it. They usually have an LED light that changes color. They can have a wood base or a high tech exterior with the glass hidden inside. I think they’re kinda cool, retro looking – like a lava lamp. The downside is the glass is fragile. And the tiny tubes inside always become clogged. When that happens, the rubber bladder in the aquarium pump gives out. Game over. Then you hear the loud pump buzz, but no scent comes out. If you have one, I bet this sounds familiar!
Bottom line: Loud. Fragile. Lots of cleaning and soaking.
NEBULIZING DIFFUSERS DO NOT USE WATER. THEY USE A HIGH POWERED PUMP TO MICRONIZE THE SCENT.
In my opinion, the best diffusers for the price are nebulizing diffusers. They work with a powerful pump that causes the liquid aroma to micronize into particles of 1 or 2 microns in size (about 50 to 100 times smaller than aerosol). The tiny particles become scented air. They travel a long way. They don’t float down and coat floors and furniture. Nebulizers can be small and affordable or super powerful. Some scent up to 2500 square feet! They don’t use water – so no mold! 100% of the emitted aroma is pure scent. And every burst produces the same scent strength level from the first day to the bottom of the bottle.
They are ideal for pure essential oils, which are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-microbial. So you are actually cleaning bacteria, fungus, mold, microbes and many viruses from the air! Hospitals are saying that unlike synthetic anti-germ scent and disinfectants, essential oils are highly complex and effective at killing stubborn germs like MRSA!
Most nebulizing diffusers have programmable daily on and off settings, as well as burst and rest periods. They can be easily adjusted for the size of the space and cost only pennies per day to run. Set it and forget it until you refill. If it’s a good machine, it will last for years. Some you can even control with your phone.
Are there any downsides? Well, it depends on your point of view. They are usually a little more expensive. Prices range from as little as $69 to as much as $325 for all the bells and whistles. Once you have the scent in them, you must keep them upright or the liquid will pour out the top. Oh and I should mention, they make a little noise only when the scent is emitted – about the level of a whisper (15dB) on a good machine – a little louder on cheaper models. But that’s something to consider if you will use it when sleeping if you are a very light sleeper. It doesn’t bother most people, but consider that when locating it.
One important tip is to only use the essential oil and blends recommended by the manufacturer. Many blends will clog your diffuser and require service and may void its warranty. I’ve had this happen even with some I thought were reputable EOs.
So there you have it! An insider’s guide to diffusers. I look forward to questions and coments. I hope you found this info helpful so you can find the best diffuser for you! Thanks for reading! And be sure to check out our other blogs.