One of the most common questions we get asked about essential oils is which diffuser to use. Whilst there are many different styles and prices to choose from, it’s best to find out what each diffuser does and choose one based on your needs. If you understand a little bit about how aromatherapy works, it’s easier to make an informed decision. So here’s the short version of the scientific garble: When you inhale the scent of essential oils, you are actually inhaling the molecules that make up that oil. These molecules are then transported to the limbic system in the brain and the blood stream, affecting emotional and physical aspects of the brain. Since essential oils each have their own properties, they affect our systems in different ways, such as lowering heart rate, restoring hormonal balance and enhancing your mood. So if aromatherapy is basically treating conditions with scent, why can’t we just open up a bottle and take a whiff? The answer in short is…you can. But you won’t get the same results. At least not long term. After a certain amount of time, your body will process the molecules and the effects will be gone. In order to maintain desired conditions, it’s important to be able to inhale those molecules for extended periods of time. Enter diffusion. Listed here are the main methods used today for diffusing essential oils and each of their benefits. Any of the methods will work, but choosing one based on your desired results is the best way to go.
A heat diffuser also uses evaporative methods to release essential oil molecules into the air. Like the fan diffusers, they can also fractionate the oils, making them less potent. Like reed diffusers, there are no fans or steam to generate heat diffusers, so they release a small amount of essential oil. They are best used in small spaces. Heat diffusers are still a more economical choice for diffusing, and are also completely silent. Some forms of heat diffusers are car diffusers and ceramic tea light diffusers. If you choose to go this route, be sure to buy one that uses lower heat levels to retain more of the essential oil quality. These will need to be cleaned often.
Pendant diffusers are the least expensive diffusing method on the market. This type of diffuser is made out of terracotta or ceramic and is usually hung in a small room or worn as a necklace. They work by releasing essential oils into the air as they evaporate. Terracotta is a porous material that will retain the essential oil for most of the day, so it’s great to wear to work or school. It’s a great way to keep the benefits of aromatherapy close to you when diffusing electronically is not an option.
A nebulizer uses a cool air flow and a small tube to create a vacuum that pulls liquid to the top, creating a fine mist. This is considered the strongest method of diffusing as it does not break the oil down and quickly releases a large amount into the air. While powerful, these types of diffusers can be pricey and noisy. They also use a larger amount of oil more quickly, making it a less efficient option than others. When using a nebulizing diffuser, it’s important to use a timer and only diffuse for 10-15 minutes each hour. This will conserve your oils a little and also give your body the time it needs to process them. These can be good options for stronger therapeutic needs prescribed by a practitioner.
Probably the most common way to diffuse essential oil is with an ultrasonic diffuser. These efficient little beauties create vibrations in the room temperature water bath using electronic frequencies. The vibrations break the oils down into micro molecules and create a fine mist, releasing essential oil into the air. Because the molecules are broken down, they enter the olfactory system faster, speeding the effects in our blood streams and organs. Ultrasonic diffusers use very little oil, making them the most efficient option for diffusing as well as the most effective. 1-5 drops will infuse the air for hours. They are also easy to clean, quiet and cover large areas making them great for living spaces of almost any size.
Also known as an evaporative diffuser, these machines work by blowing cold air through a pad or filter that you drop essential oils onto. These diffusers work well for getting essential oil molecules into a room quickly, but also evaporate and fractionate the oils into different components. So, lighter, less dense components are released before heavier components making it a little less efficient for therapeutic benefits. Fan diffusers can come in many varieties, such as wall plug-ins or counter units.
Reed diffusers use naturally porous reeds to release essential oils molecules into the air. They are placed in a glass container with essential oil in the bottom. Reeds have multiple cellular channels that open up and pull the oils from the bottom to the top. Because there is no air or steam to force the molecules out, they release a very small amount. Because there is no system to break down the molecules, reed diffusers don’t have quite the same effect for aromatherapy as other types of diffusers. But they’re great for small spaces and scent. Reeds in these diffusers must be replaced occasionally as they will become clogged with oil and dust and fail to release any oil. Essential oils will have to be replaced often in fan diffusers because they will evaporate more quickly. They can also be noisy to run, depending on the model purchased.
Wrapping it Up
Don’t let choosing a diffuser overwhelm you into delaying your essential oil experience! We’ve found that most families start out with one diffuser and eventually purchase another one. There are so many affordable options out there that you shouldn’t feel limited to one diffuser if you have more than one need or more than one space you wish to use it. Basically, you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose, so pick one and get oily