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What is a Diffuser-A Guide to Get the Most Benefits.

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In this post we’ll talk about the basics of aromatherapy diffusers. Whether you’re an avid essential oil user or it’s your first time in the world of aromatherapy, you’ll want to find out how to get the most therapeutic benefits out of diffusing. The benefits of aromatherapy are vast but are you utilizing your diffuser to get the best home and health benefits? In this post I’ll break down different methods of diffusing essential oils. 

Diffuser sitting on books in front of a window.

What is a Diffuser?

An oil diffuser is a device that breaks down essential oils into smaller molecules and emits them into the air. A diffuser’s job is to fill the air with tiny aromatherapy particles that are then inhaled by the people in the living space. Several benefits of diffusing essential oils are improved sleep, less congestion, increased concentration and cleaner air quality. 

But first, before we go any further-let’s discuss exactly what is an essential oil…

An essential oil is a plant extract that is taken from a plant by pressing or steam distilling certain parts of the plant. These extracts have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful with many different health and mental issues. There have been countless studies showing that the use of essential oils are effective for calming anxiety, improving sleep, lifting depression, improving respiratory issues, relieving nausea etc. 

Using an aromatherapy diffuser is a great way to harness the therapeutic benefits of essential oils as well as formulate special essential oil blends to suit your scent preference. Experimenting with your favorite essential oils is like making a perfume but with diffuser blends, you can experiment with little to no waste. If you don’t like the blend you added to your diffuser, you can try a new one next time! 

Related Post: Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils

4 different types of diffusers

Different types of essential oil diffusers:

  • Nebulizing diffuser
  • Heat diffuser
  • Ultrasonic diffuser
  • Evaporative diffuser

A nebulizer diffusers does not use heat or water to diffuse essential oils. They blast a high pressure air stream into a small tube which creates a suction effect. Essential oils are then drawn into a glass reservoir and the molecules are released into the air. Because there is no water to dilute or heat to destroy beneficial properties, you are inhaling unadulterated essential oil particles. The nebulizer diffuser is more suited for small spaces and has a stronger scent intensity then other types of diffusers. I have never owned or operated a nebulizing diffuser so I can’t speak to it’s efficiency. I have noticed that they seem to be much more expensive than any other type diffuser and according to my research, they require more essential oils to run but they typically are only run for short increments of time rather than hours like an ultrasonic diffuser.

A heat diffuser is typically powered by a tea light placed below a small dish that contains essential oils. Lamp ring diffusers are also included in this type. Using heat to reap the benefits of essential oils isn’t the most effective practice since heat can destroy the properties of essential oils. 

The most common type of diffuser are ultrasonic essential oil diffusers. Ultrasonic diffusers require water and several drops of an essential oil and uses ultrasonic waves to disperse the oil into the air. These types of diffusers are simple to use by filling the water tank with filtered or distilled water up to the fill line then adding up to 10 drops of essential oil or an essential oil blend of your choosing. The diffuser will then emit a fine mist into the air. The ultrasonic diffuser is more suited for a large space. 

Evaporative diffusers include reed diffusers which consist of a glass bottle that contains essential oils. Reed sticks are then placed into the glass bottle where the oils then saturate the sticks and the scent is emitted into the air. Essential oil jewelry is also a great example of an evaporative diffuser. 

Related Post: How to Make and Use an Essential Oil Inhaler

A hand picking up an essential oil next to a diffuser

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefits. It is an ancient form of holistic therapy. 

One way to practice aromatherapy is by inhaling essential oils. When essential oils are inhaled, the scent molecules travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and especially effect the amygdala which is the emotional center of the brain. Another way to benefit from aromatherapy is to apply essential oils directly to the skin. 

Benefits of Diffusing:

There are many therapeutic uses of diffusing. 

  • Makes your home smell fresh without using harmful fragrance.
  • Relieves nasal congestion
  • Encourages better sleep-Diffuse lavender oil while you sleep to induce sleep. 
  • Encourages good habits with scent association. For example, diffuse peppermint when it’s time to read or study. Not only will it increase your ability to concentrate but once you smell peppermint, you’ll associate it with reading.
  • Decreases appetite-Grapefruit, peppermint and spearmint essential oils have been shown to curb the munchies!
  • Kills airborne pathogens-Use the blend Germ Fighter to rid your air of harmful molecules that could cause illness.
  • Lift mood during the winter blues.
  • Boosts energy levels with oils like peppermint and rosemary!

Related Post: Benefits of Diffusing Essential Oils You Might Not Have Guessed

Diffuser and essential oils

How to Use an Ultrasonic Diffuser:

Ultrasonic diffusers are easy to use. It takes seconds to set up and enjoy the pleasant scent and positive effects of your essential oil diffuser! 

First rule of diffusing is do not use tap water. Tap water is often hard water and can erode a diffuser quickly. You always want to use distilled water or filtered water. 

The first step is to add water to the diffuser. You might want to unplug your diffuser if you are filling it at the sink. There is a fill line that you will want to pay attention to. If you over fill, there will be very little to no vapor. You don’t have to always fill to the fill line if you don’t want to. Just don’t overfill. The next step is to add the essential oils. Typically I add 8-10 drops. Replace the lid and turn on the diffuser. Enjoy!!

The best place to place your diffuser is where ever you will be able to get the most benefit from it. Pay attention to room size and ventilation when young children or cats are in the home. Unless you are trying to protect young children or pets, keep your diffuser away from a fan and keep overhead fans off. I like to run my diffuser by my bed at night or where I work during the day. 

My Favorite Aromatic Essential Oils to Diffuse:

The Best Oils for Anxiety and Relaxation:

  • Lavender
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Lemon
  • Rose
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Roman Chamomile

The Best Oils to Boost Concentration and Focus:

  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Lemon
  • Rosemary

The Best Oils to Freshen the Air:

  • Lemon
  • Cedarwood
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Lemongrass
  • Tea Tree
  • Orange

When combining oils to make a diffuser blend, I use a top note, middle note and base note. Top notes are citrus oils. Base notes are woodsy scents and middle nuts are everything in-between. My DIY perfume post gives you a list of which oils are considered what notes. 

Hand dripping lavender oil into a diffuser

Diffusing Safety and Precautions:

Some people and pets are sensitive to diffusing essential oils. If you experience a headache, nausea, shortness of breath or a throat ache an oil you are diffusing could be the cause.

Take great caution diffusing around infants 12 months and under. Cats are also very sensitive to certain essential oils. While diffusing around sensitive people, children or animals make sure there is decent air circulation by not diffusing in a small closed in space. I leave windows open during most of the year or I diffuse in an open area of my home and may even turn an overhead fan on. I make sure my cats are able to leave the room or even leave the house if they choose. 

Cleaning Your Diffuser:

Ultrasonic diffusers need an occasional cleaning because essential oils and water minerals can build up on the base of the water reservoir which can cause the mist to be greatly reduced over time. An effective way to clean your diffuser is with a little soap and water and then run a cycle of water and a teaspoon of white vinegar. You can also use a q-tip or small paint brush and alcohol to clean the lid where the mist is emitted. 

Cleaning your diffuser thoroughly does not need to be done daily or weekly. Once a month is a good rule of thumb if you use your diffuser daily. How often you clean your diffuser depends on how often you use your diffuser. Once you notice a reduced mist flow, it is definitely time to clean your diffuser. 

Where to Get the Best Diffusers and Essential Oils:

The jury is out on the best essential oil diffuser. These days there are so many to choose from in all different price ranges. I have 3 in my home and none of them are still available on Amazon. So full disclosure, I am going off of which diffusers have the most 5 star reviews and are affordable. 

Diffusers with the Best Reviews:

When using essential oils, high quality, organic oils are a must. I typically get pure essential oils from Plant Therapy. I love that they offer organic oils that are affordable. Plus they offer fast and free shipping. You can use my code JENNIRAINCLOUD to get 10% off your order! You might be interested in my full Plant Therapy Review. They also have several certified in-house aromatherapist to analyze their essential oils to ensure consistent quality. I also like using Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils. They are also high quality and very affordable but their shipping is a bit slower. 

Bird's eye view of diffuser with vapor

Hopefully this post has educated you thoroughly on what a diffuser is, what essential oils are and how to benefit from both. Diffusing on a regular basis requires minimal effort and is an excellent way to boost your mood, your energy and even your health! Now you know about the four different types of diffusers and have most likely chosen which method will work for you.

Diffusing is a ritual that I incorporate in my daily routine. I find that it not only freshens my air, it also gives me a sense of calmness and peace. Diffusing when my family is sick is also a staple practice when it comes to isolating an illness to one person or relieving symptoms such as nausea and congestion. If you haven’t ventured into the world of diffusing, I encourage you to do so. You won’t regret it!

xx, Jenni


diffuser and a hand pouring water in a diffuser

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Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the green beauty blog, Jenni Raincloud and her natural skin care line, J. Raincloud Organics. Jennifer has been blogging full time for 9 years and loves to gain and share knowledge on how to achieve beautiful skin the natural way.

2 thoughts on “What is a Diffuser-A Guide to Get the Most Benefits.”

  1. Mountain Rose Herbs has since reformatted their shipping department. They now ship out MUCH quicker than in the past.
    I live where they are located. It used to be at least 2 weeks before they shipped to me, now it is within 3-5 days, and I get it within about a week

    I LOVE this diffuser of theirs. It only requires 2 small batteries or a USB connection. With the batteries, it runs seems like forever! And essential oils dropped on a pad. I use it on my toilet tank.
    $4.99 for the pads

    This compact diffuser is small but powerful, roughly the size of a grapefruit it will fill up to 100 sq. ft. with your aroma of choice. The Aromasphere comes with three replacement pads and an easy access compartment, simply add up to 10 drops of oil to a pad and push the button to begin the continuous run. Powered by USB (cord included) or 2 AA batteries (not included). With the ability to be battery powered this little diffuser is a great travel companion. 6 pack refill pads available.

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