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Aromatherapy diffusers allow you to infuse your surrounding atmosphere with the healing properties of essential oils. You benefit from the therapeutic properties of the oils when you inhale the aromas that are diffused.
Also known as essential oil diffusers, these devices come in a wide array of models in different shapes, sizes, features, and price points. Not all are created equal. Some work better than others but are much more expensive. The biggest challenge is choosing from among so many different types of essential oil diffusers? Should you should an inexpensive one with basic features or pay more for one with more complex features?
The truth is there is no one best type of diffuser for essential oils. While each device is designed to operate differently, they all perform the same job of diffusing the aromas into the atmosphere.
The best diffuser for you depends on your personal preference and the benefits you are looking for.
Understanding a bit more about the different types of diffusers, how each one works, and the pros & cons of each will help you make a more informed buying decision when looking for the best device for you.
Heat diffusers are the most basic type of essential oil diffusers. They work using either an electric power source or a flame such as a candle to generate heat. This heat converts the water and essential oil into a gas that disperses into the atmosphere.
Heat diffusers are the cheapest but they are also the least effective. Essential oils are highly volatile. Exposure to heat changes the chemical composition of these oils and damages some of their therapeutic properties. Lower levels of heat can help minimize the damage while still making your home smell good. With a heat diffuser you will be able to enjoy the aroma of the oil but you won’t get the full benefits of the oil.
Also, these diffusers do not break down the essential oils evenly. The simpler components in the oil break down quickly and are released first, with heavier components coming later.
Another downside of heat diffusers is that you cannot control the amount of oil molecules dispersed into the air. More often than not, the oil evaporates too quickly so you have to refill it within a shorter time.
Pros of heat diffusers– Heat diffusers are inexpensive and low maintenance. They work quietly and are convenient to use anywhere even when there’s no plug point. Just use a candle to generate heat and you’re good to go.
Cons of heat diffusers –Damaging the beneficial properties of essential oils is the biggest downside to using heat diffusers. They also work out more expensive in the long run because faster evaporation means you will be using more oils.
Upshot – Heat diffusers are a good alternative if you are looking for an affordable way to diffuse essential oils for an occasional burst of freshness.
Best Heat Diffusers – This Handmade Elephant Essential Oil Burner is one of the nicer-looking heat diffusers I found on Amazon. It has some good reviews too.
Evaporative diffusers operate at a very basic level. You place a few drops of essential oil on a filter, stone or pad and let the oil evaporate naturally. These devices do a really good job in immediately sending essential oil into the air in your room or nearby environment.
The downside is that some of the more volatile components of the oil evaporate faster, which diminishes the therapeutic properties of your oil to some degree.
Essential oil pendants and bracelets are the most common types of evaporative diffusers. Each piece of aromatherapy jewelry has a small pad on which you put a few drops of essential oil. The oil on the pad evaporates naturally and permeates the skin and hair. This offers a practical way to get the benefits of aromatherapy anytime, anywhere.
Reed diffusers are also a type of evaporative diffusers. They work by using reeds to draw the diluted oils from the container and expose them to the air. The exposed essential oil evaporates on exposure to the air and in the process infuses the space with its aroma.
Pros of evaporative diffusers– This “low tech” essential oil diffuser is very easy to use, quiet, affordable, and allows you to get the benefits of essential oils on the go.
Cons of evaporative diffusers– As with the heat method used for delivering the benefits of essential oils, evaporative diffusers too, deliver individual components at different times. This damages some or even all therapeutic health benefits that essential oils can deliver.
Upshot – While these may not be as effective as ultrasonic or nebulizing diffusers, they come in very handy sometimes. Wearing essential oil jewelry can help you get the benefits of aromatherapy when you’re out and about. You will need to refill the inner pad often but that’s a small inconvenience rather than the all-or-nothing alternative.
Best Evaporative Diffusers – This Tree of Life Locket is my favorite of all aromatherapy jewelry styles. The 30 mm locket is beautifully designed and comes with a 23-inch adjustable chain and 5 black felt pads. The pendant and chain, are made from surgical grade stainless steel. It is available in gold and silver. I’ve bought several of them to use as stocking stuffers. These are a great hit with teenagers.
ULTRASONIC OR HUMIDIFYING DIFFUSERS
Ultrasonic essential oil diffusers work using water and essential oils. The ultrasonic technology generates a fine mist that contains micro-particles of essential oils mixed with water. The mist and micro-particles are gently dispersed into the atmosphere, activating the powerful therapeutic benefits of essential oils.
Ultrasonic diffusers do double duty as mini humidifiers and are especially beneficial in winter. The fine mist they release introduces small amounts of water into the air, adding some much-needed humidity to the dry indoor winter atmosphere. The amount of mist generated differs from one model to another.
Because no heat is used in this type of diffuser, the properties of the essential oil remain intact so you get its full therapeutic benefits. The downside is that the water dilutes the aroma of the oil a little bit.
These types of diffusers are considerably more expensive than heat and evaporative devices but there’s a good reason for that. Ultrasonic or humidifying diffusers have a more advanced mechanism for dispersing the therapeutic aromas so you can the maximum benefits of the oil. They also come packed with lots of useful features, from rotating LED lights and automatic shut-off to controls that allow you to adjust the aroma and mist settings, and more.
Pros of ultrasonic diffusers – You get the full benefits of the oil used with ultrasonic diffusers. The humidifying feature is useful when the weather turns chilly and dry. There are many options to choose from, at various price points. Most models are reasonably priced and come with several useful features.
Cons of ultrasonic diffusers – The aroma that these diffusers emit is slightly toned-down because the essential oils are diluted with water. These devices generate only a little mist, which may not be enough to humidify a large room. They n
Upshot – Ultrasound diffusers offer the best value for money and are the most popular of all. The larger water capacity also means a longer run time so you don’t have to refill the essential oils as often.
Best Ultrasound Diffusers – Rocky Mountain Oils and Plant Therapy make some of the best ultrasound diffusers for essential oils. All of their diffusers are beautifully designed and packed with useful features that allow you to control the rate of diffusion, misting, and lighting options. They also offer decent coverage areas.
Nebulizing diffusers are the most powerful type of essential oil diffusers. They use neither heat nor water to diffuse the oil. These devices work by using an inbuilt atomizer to generate ultrafine particles of essential oils, which are dispersed into the surrounding atmosphere. There is no loss of aroma and no dilution of therapeutic properties with a nebulizing essential oil diffuser.
Nebulizing diffusers are also the lowest maintenance of all. You do not have to clean it after every use as with the other types of diffusers.
This is the best type of aromatherapy diffuser to buy if you have the budget for it. Considering you would have paid a lot for your essential oils, it makes sense to invest a little more and buy the best aromatherapy diffuser. They do not let any of the oil components go to waste so you get to enjoy all of the goodness of the oil.
When buying a nebulizing diffuser, it is a good idea to purchase a model that has an inbuilt timer. This is because you can become immune to aromas if you consistently use them for more than 15-minute sessions. With a timer, you can set it for optimum use.
Pros of nebulizing diffusers– Because no heat or water is used in the process, you get the full benefits of the oils. They are also low-maintenance so you can just put a few drops of the oil in the holder and forget all about it.
Cons of nebulizing diffusers – Nebulizing diffusers use up oil faster than the other types of diffusers. They are also the most expensive of all.
Upshot – While these are the most expensive type of diffusers, they are totally worth it considering you get the strongest aroma and the full therapeutic benefits of the oils used.
Best Nebulizing Diffusers – Organic Aromas offers the largest range of high-quality nebulizing diffusers in a wide array of styles and colors. Sleek designs, high-quality materials, generous coverage area, and efficient operation make these some of the best nebulizing diffusers you’ll find anywhere.
How about you? What type of essential oil diffuser are you using? Do you find that it disperses the aromas well? Let us know in the comments below.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your physician before using essential oils. See Full Disclaimer here.