Because many essential oils are not consumable, it's much safer to have them diffused through an oil diffuser. These devices disseminate essential oils into your surroundings, facilitating easy inhalation of the oil's essence to influence your emotions, cognitive function, and immune system.
That's why we researched some of the best oil diffusers out there and came up with a list of our 10 favorites. Our favorite was Aromis' Nebulizing Essential Oil Diffuser because it's plastic-free and can diffuse potently in small or large rooms. Read on for nine other great options, as well as a buying guide full of helpful shopping tips!
Essential oil diffusers work by releasing a mist of essential oils into the air surrounding you. When you inhale the released mist, the oil particles are absorbed into the body.
This can improve your cognitive function, reduce stress levels, and help you to relax. They're often used to accompany yoga or meditation, but you can reap the benefits of aromatherapy anywhere you want by using a diffuser.
Besides, regular inhalation of certain essential oils like eucalyptus can boost your immune system; the pleasant fragrance that is dispersed into the air through the diffuser purifies the air by killing the bacteria and germs that can cause illnesses. Regular diffusing of oils like rosemary and lemongrass can keep insects such as mosquitoes, houseflies, moths, and more at bay.
Oil diffusers are a great way to take advantage of your essential oils and fill up a space with aromatic scents. You can choose different types for different settings or locations - powered or not - so that whether you're in the office, kitchen, or bathroom, you have one that's appropriate for your needs.
Here are some major points you should keep in mind when looking for an oil diffuser, including where and how you'll use it.
With a range of oil diffusers to choose from, understanding the difference between each and what each can do differently than the rest can help you decide which diffuser suits you.
Ultrasonic diffusers use ultrasonic vibration to diffuse essential oils into the surroundings as negative ions. The vibration the oil is subject to breaks it down into minute particles, thereby dispersing these particles as a very fine mist of essential oils.
They work quietly and are great for meditating, relaxing, working, and sleeping. With no heat involved in the process, they are great at diffusing oils while retaining their potential therapeutic benefits. Some ultrasonic diffusers also have various lighting options, so they can also function as mood lighting.
Nebulizer diffusers require no heat or water to disperse the oils into the surroundings. They have a motor or an air pump and a reservoir. The air pump works to sends a stream of compressed air through a tube that is placed in the glass reservoir that holds the essential oil.
With no water added involved in the process, these types of diffusers are the most preferred for aromatherapy since they tend to give off stronger scents. This makes them better suited for larger spaces, especially if you're sensitive to strong smells.
Product descriptions often state how much ground they can cover, with some ranging as small as 150 square feet, all the way up to 700 square feet. So unless you want a blast of scent in a small space, look for coverage in the higher range (think living rooms or studios) when considering a nebulizing diffuser.
Many electronic evaporative diffusers use a fan to disperse a mist of air into the surroundings. An absorbent material such as a pad or a wick, or sometimes a filter holds the oil. Then, the wind generated by the fan facilitates the evaporation of oil in a controlled way.
However, the therapeutic effect of this type of diffuser is comparatively less, especially with lighter oils like citrus oils that diffuse faster. It can also be a bit noisy as the fan runs as long as the diffuser is on.
Another type of evaporative diffuser is a reed diffuser that uses channeled sticks placed in an oil diffuser bottle. The oil travels up the stick and is released through the channels and to the room; like electric diffusers, lighter oils diffuse faster than heavier ones. If you want a quiet diffuser, you can't get any quieter than this! Both fan and reed diffusers are great for smaller spaces.
Heat diffusers operate in a way similar to evaporative diffusers. However, instead of the fan, the heat diffusers use heat (often from a candle) to evaporate the oil. You only need a few drops of oil, so it can save you money! When the candle is lit, its flame will heat the oil, which then evaporates and releases a mist of oil and water into the air.
Heat diffusers are not recommended, however, if you are looking for therapeutic benefits. This is because heat alters the composition of the oil. That can interfere with the properties of the oil, making them less effective. Ultimately, you end up using more oil to get the desired results. They're better for dispersing scent in general.
Make sure you consider the size and the typical temperature of a space before you make your diffuser purchase. Almost all diffusers will list the "max capacity" space the manufacturer thinks the diffuser can effectively spread scent in.
If you are diffusing in a warmer room, keep in mind that a warmer room will spread scent faster. If you live in a drier environment, a diffuser that uses water might be helpful, and vice versa.
Not all oil diffusers come with the same features and properties. As discussed above, ultrasonic diffusers work differently than nebulizing types. While thinking of buying an oil diffuser, its features can also be great determinants in helping you with the right selection.
No matter which type you use, make sure to choose one that's aesthetically pleasing, easy to use when inserting essential oils, and is easy to turn on and off!
Also, check the length of the electrical cord if you choose to go with one that needs to be plugged in so that it will easily reach whichever surface you're planning on placing it on. This will encourage you to use it more often, and really enjoy your investment in both essential oils and a diffuser!
Good quality diffusers come with adjustable timers to control the oil diffusing time, with the exception of heat diffusers, which generally don't have timers. Some diffuser timers have an auto shut-off setting, which is a good feature to prevent any chances of a fire hazard in case the reservoir runs out of oil or water. This also eliminates the need to manually turn off the diffuser.
You can also find diffusers running on USB if you want to use it while you work on your laptop; some can run for up to 20 hours without stopping! These diffusers dispense oil at regular intervals measured in seconds or hours, making them great for fuss-free diffusing.
Diffusers that come with adjustable mist settings can help control the amount of mist that is dispensed. This feature enables setting the mist level to a high or low - a great feature to prevent your device from using a lot of oil.
The adjustable settings facilitate operating the diffuser intermittently or continuously; the intermittent setting allows you to set the mist to dispense for a certain interval - say, 30 seconds - and then turn off. If your diffuser has no mist control and you want to lessen the concentration of oil in the mist, try diluting the oil-water solution.
I'd suggest purchasing one that has mist control settings for stronger essential oil scents, and consider looking for one with a timer so that electrical appliances will automatically shut off.
Fan-based diffusers can let out some noise while operating, and some large diffusers can have a noise level of up to 54 decibels. So if you are particular about noise levels or want to use it while you sleep, go for a quiet diffuser that only gives out a hum. Those with a noise output level of 23 decibels or lower are ideal.
We have carefully assessed the needs of owning an oil diffuser and scoured through the top-rated products on sites like Amazon, Walmart, and more. We made our choices based on the points listed in the buying guide below, as well as reviewer comments when available.
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Karin Loo. For more on our selection process, check out our content policy.
Pure Daily Care
Nebulizing Essential Oil Diffuser
Remote Control Essential Oil Diffuser
Smart Oil Diffuser
Waterless Diffuser for Essential Oils
Waterless Portable Oil Diffuser
Himalayan Pink Salt Diffuser and 10 Essential Oils
Ceramic Tealight Oil Diffuser
Wooden Essential Oil Burner
Metal Flower Cutout Color-Changing Oil Diffuser
Tall Essential Oil Diffuser
Best Plastic-Free Nebulizer for Large Spaces
Best Large Capacity Ultrasonic Diffuser for Open Rooms
Best Budget-Friendly Smart Oil Diffuser
Best Portable Nebulizer for Taking Your Aromatherapy With You
Best Compact Evaporative Diffuser
Best for Combining Aromatherapy and Light Therapy
Best Heat-Based Diffuser for Yoga or Decorative Use
Best Heat-Based Diffuser With a Lower Risk of Burns
Best Ultrasonic Diffuser With a Bohemian Vibe
Best for Using Over Multiple Days Without Adding Water
|Material||Hand-blown glass and wood||PP hard plastic||BPA-free plastic||Aluminum||Wood, ABS||Plastic||Ceramic||Porcelain and wood||Plastic and metal||Plastic|
|Tank capacity||Not available||1,000 ml.||500 ml.||10 ml.||Not available||400 ml.||3 oz.||70 ml.||200 ml.||4,000 ml.|
|Maximum runtime||12 hours||15 hours for high mist mode, 20 hours for low mist mode||16 hours||2 hours||30 minutes||Not available||Not available||5 hours||6 hours||50 hours|
|Mist control||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Not available||No||No||No||Yes|
|Dimensions||11 x 4 x 7 in.||7.8 x 7.8 x 4.7 in.||6 x 6 x 5 in.||0.7 x 1 x 2.3 in.||2.64 x 2.64 x 3.43 in.||10.04 inches x 6.5 inches x 6.38 in.||3.86 x 3.86 x 4.53 in.||4.8 x 4.8 x 4.8 in.||6.5 x 4.33 x 4.33 in.||7.5 x 7.5 x 13 in.|
Solum Lux Merus
|Material||Hand-blown glass and wood|
|Tank capacity||Not available|
|Maximum runtime||12 hours|
|Dimensions||11 x 4 x 7 in.|
|Material||PP hard plastic|
|Tank capacity||1,000 ml.|
|Maximum runtime||15 hours for high mist mode, 20 hours for low mist mode|
|Dimensions||7.8 x 7.8 x 4.7 in.|
|Tank capacity||500 ml.|
|Maximum runtime||16 hours|
|Dimensions||6 x 6 x 5 in.|
|Tank capacity||10 ml.|
|Maximum runtime||2 hours|
|Dimensions||0.7 x 1 x 2.3 in.|
|Tank capacity||Not available|
|Maximum runtime||30 minutes|
|Dimensions||2.64 x 2.64 x 3.43 in.|
|Tank capacity||400 ml.|
|Maximum runtime||Not available|
|Mist control||Not available|
|Dimensions||10.04 inches x 6.5 inches x 6.38 in.|
Set of 2
|Tank capacity||3 oz.|
|Maximum runtime||Not available|
|Dimensions||3.86 x 3.86 x 4.53 in.|
Set of 2
|Material||Porcelain and wood|
|Tank capacity||70 ml.|
|Maximum runtime||5 hours|
|Dimensions||4.8 x 4.8 x 4.8 in.|
|Material||Plastic and metal|
|Tank capacity||200 ml.|
|Maximum runtime||6 hours|
|Dimensions||6.5 x 4.33 x 4.33 in.|
|Tank capacity||4,000 ml.|
|Maximum runtime||50 hours|
|Dimensions||7.5 x 7.5 x 13 in.|
Like any device that you use, oil diffusers also need regular cleaning and maintenance. If not, the debris left over by oils can stick to the diffuser and interfere with its performance. The build up of debris and dirt can minimize the effects of the oils that you are using.
Ideally, essential oils should be stored in dark bottles or away from light as this prevents the oils from breaking down. If you don't know which oil to use in your diffuser, try using a premade oil blend. They're beneficial for meditation, relaxation, and sleep induction.
Adhere to the recommended diffuse time of the oil that you are using, which you can figure out by reading the bottle. Some oils are stronger than others and only need to be diffused for 20 to 30 minutes. Those with lighter concentrations can be diffused for an hour or longer.
Most diffusers can be cleaned using mild dishwashing soap, a towel, and warm water. You can also use a cotton swab soaked in vinegar to clean the corners and crevices.
We also recommend disinfecting the diffuser occasionally using white vinegar, alcohol, or peroxide; this prevents bacteria and mold buildup. You can add any of these to clean water and let the diffuser run for a few minutes, draining well when finished. Once done, rinse with clean water and wipe with a clean and dry cloth.
Be sure to consistently clean out your oil diffuser between each change in scent so that you get the full benefit of each essential oil. Sometimes certain oil scents blend well, and sometimes not!
I would also recommend completely emptying out and deep cleaning your diffuser at least once every one or two weeks since build-up and molding may occur without proper care.
You may still have some lingering questions about oil diffusers and what goes in them, so here are a couple of answers to some commonly asked questions.
Some oils like tea tree, peppermint, and eucalyptus can negatively affect infants and children and even have fatal consequences since they have a respiratory system that isn't fully developed, so you should consider avoiding those. Consult with your pediatrician or trusted medical sources to see which ones you shouldn't use.
For use with pets at home, it might be a good idea to check with your veterinarian before purchasing oils. Peppermint, clove, cinnamon, pine, and wintergreen can irritate the sensitive noses of some pets and are even considered toxic.
Now that you've got your diffuser, it's time to get some essential oils. Here are a few of our recommendations!
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
Author: Biji Bella Ravindran
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