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!
Karin is a certified yoga instructor and HR director in addition to running a successful Instagram account about fashion, lifestyle, and more. She describes herself as "a Boho Girl living in a Yogi World".
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Table of Contents
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.
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Nebulizing Essential Oil Diffuser
Best Plastic-Free Nebulizer for Large Spaces
Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser
Best Large Capacity Ultrasonic Diffuser for Open Rooms
Best Budget-Friendly Smart Oil Diffuser
Smart Wifi Essential Oil Diffuser
Best Portable Nebulizer for Taking Your Aromatherapy With You
Lemongrass Reed Oil Diffuser
Best Compact Evaporative Diffuser
Pure Daily Care
Best for Combining Aromatherapy and Light Therapy
Ceramic and Wood Aroma Diffuser
Best Heat-Based Diffuser for Yoga or Decorative Use
Earth-Tone Dollop Oil Warmer
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
Aromis' hand-crafted nebulizer is appealing to the eye and completely hand-crafted from natural wood and handblown glass. This unit is energy-efficient, as it turns on and off every 10 minutes. Mist and aroma intensity settings vary from low to medium to high, and the elegant, elongated spout provides the ideal conditions for wide-spread diffusion.
There have been some complaints that Aromis' diffuser produces an obvious humming noise when it runs, so it may not be the best for close quarters. However, most who bought this nebulizing diffuser are thrilled with how simple to use yet beautiful it is. They add that it provides a potent diffusion of oil, with a few even saying they've used it successfully in 1,000-foot spaces!
Urpower's Remote Controlled Essential Oil Diffuser holds enough water to last up to 20 hours. The diffuser activates with a remote, making it easy to turn it on from your couch or bed. The semi-translucent top can light up in seven different colors and has two mist output modes. It can also double as a humidifier.
Some who bought Urpower's diffuser warn that it doesn't have as long a lifespan as other products, with many of those reporting their diffusers lasted less than a year. However, this didn't seem to be a widespread issue, as many other people have confirmed theirs lasted just fine even with daily use. This diffuser is popular for its ease of use and wide diffusion area.
Asakuki's oil diffuser has a diffusion ability that's potent enough for a moderately sized room, and the LED light can be adjusted for brightness or for color. It's accessible for iPhone and Android users thanks to its app, which puts it above similar smart tech diffusers. On its lowest setting, this oil diffuser will create a soothing aroma in your room for up to 16 hours.
Quite a few people had trouble syncing the app to their local wifi, complaining that the instructions weren't easy to understand. On the other hand, hundreds are thrilled with Asakuki's product, saying that it's whisper-silent and runs as long as promised. Some have checked back in a year after purchasing to report the diffuser is proving to have a very long life.
Scentcares' nebulizing oil diffuser is about the size of a soda can, but it produces a potent, aromatic mist. This diffuser is battery-powered, chargeable, and has three levels of mist intensity. It's the perfect choice if you want to take your oils with you for an outing.
While the makers claim potency for up to 800 feet, some reviewers have found that the scent begins weaken at a distance of around 300 feet. However, most who bought Scentcares' diffuser are happy with how fragrant the immediate area becomes, with many saying they use it as a car diffuser. Others have added that it truly runs silently and that they enjoy using it for meditation.
AromaAllure's portable evaporative diffuser fits in your car's cupholder and produces undiluted, soothing aromas with the help of its quietly-running fan. Simply remove the wooden cover to apply the oil of your choice onto a microfiber pad. This oil diffuser is battery-powered, but it can also be plugged into your laptop for longer use. This is a good choice for studying or travel.
A common complaint about this diffuser is that it's not effective in large spaces and can really only be noticed when in close proximity. However, many who bought this diffuser are happy enough with its diffusion in a car or in small bedrooms. They say it only needs a few drops of oil to work and that it runs silently and doesn't spit oil as some fan-run diffusers do.
Pure Daily Care's diffuser comes in a bundle with 10 essential oils that include soothing tea tree oil and nutmeg oil, among other popular scents. Stored in the base of this ultrasonic diffuser are hand-carved chunks of pink Himalayan salt, which ionize the air to improve mist quality. These salt blocks also glow with a soothing ambiance when lit up as the machine is turned on.
A few users have complained that the mist output is very weak compared to other diffusers and that the scent doesn't permeate across large spaces. However, most were pleased with how beautiful the diffuser looks and how calming the glow of the salt blocks was. They added that depending on how many drops of oil they used, the smell could become quite potent.
So long as you take care in using them, these porcelain oil diffusers can be a stunning addition to your home or yoga studio. One tealight candle can burn for up to two and a half hours wherein the oil-water mixture can last up to six. Instead of producing a mist, these candle-based diffusers boil the water and oil mixture to create a relaxing scent throughout the room.
One or two users reported cracking in the porcelain after they lit the candles. It's recommended by the manufacturer to add the water and the oils before lighting the candle. Otherwise, these tealight diffusers are popular for how easy to clean and use they are. A few users say they bought scented candles in addition to the essential oils, and that the scent was lovely.
If you're worried about burning your fingers on porcelain, ComSaf offers a wooden option as well. This open air design preserves the wax allowing for longer candle life. The ceramic bowls are deep enough so that even if your oil mix begins to bubble, it won't splatter onto the surrounding area. The base is made of treated bamboo wood and fits nicely with a natural aesthetic.
One or two people said the fragrance created by these diffusers wasn't potent enough for their taste, but by and large, users were thrilled with how well the candles diffused scents throughout their homes. They added that even when unlit, the diffusers were a beautiful addition to their decor and could also be used as wax melters.
Opalhouse's ultrasonic oil diffuser is the perfect addition to any Bohemian-style decor. It has a 200-millimeter water tank and produced a steady, potent amount of mist.
A few people noted that the scent created by this diffuser wasn't as strong as they would have preferred. However, others recommended adding more drops of oil or simply selecting higher-quality oils for this diffuser. Most were thrilled with how well the design complemented their rooms and added that aside from a slight gurgling, the diffuser ran very quietly.
If you need a diffuser that will run for days without needing a refill, BlueHills has you covered. This large-capacity ultrasonic diffuser can run for as long as 50 hours with its gallon-plus water supply, although you may want to add more oil on the top along the way.
Quite a few people warned that this diffuser has a tendency to leak, so you may want to be careful about the tank's sealant when you clean or refill it. Still, many who bought BlueHills' diffuser were delighted with how long it could run without needing a refill, adding that the smell was potent and that despite its size, the unit was aesthetically pleasing.
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.
No. 1: Aromis | Nebulizing Essential Oil Diffuser | Solum Lux Merus
No. 2: Urpower | Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser
No. 3: Asakuki |
No. 4: Scentcares | Smart Wifi Essential Oil Diffuser
No. 5: AromaAllure | Lemongrass Reed Oil Diffuser
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