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Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser – What You Need To Know About Them

Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Guide

If you are new to aromatherapy and essential oil diffusers there is a lot of information that you need to know about them.

I remember the first day that I bought an essential oil diffuser. I really didn’t know much about them. I remember going to Bed Bath & Beyond and just picking out one that was cheap. Over the years I have learned more and more about aromatherapy and essential oil diffusers.

There are a lot of different kinds of diffusers, different sizes, brands, and best practices. In this article, I will briefly explain the different kinds of essential oil diffusers and then talk mostly about electronic diffusers or more commonly known as ultrasonic diffusers.

Heated Essential Oil Diffusers

You should avoid using diffusers that use heat. Believe it or not, they are sold in the store. For instance, there are candle tea diffusers and lamp diffusers. For starters, they can be a fire hazard. But, the biggest reason you shouldn’t use them is that they heat up the essential oils will change the chemistry of the oils.  Also, essential oils are highly flammable. It’s been debated for years, but in general, most aromatherapists don’t recommend the use of heated essential oil diffusers.

Tea Light Diffusers

Now let me completely contradict myself and tell you about tea light burners. These burners can be used for essential oils. In fact, they don’t heat up the essential oil to chemically change compound enough. They are actually pretty good for filling large rooms which I have tested out.

However, if you are going to use a tea light burner I would make sure you get a ceramic one. You want to make sure that you’re pets don’t get anywhere close to it and you don’t want to leave it on overnight. Also, you can get a lot of tea light candles for cheap; the tea light candles last for 2-3 hours.  Also, if you want 72 10 hour candles you can get them for cheap by clicking here clicking here.  Make sure you put 4-8 drops of essential oil.  The oils will evaporate into the air pretty quickly and it stays around for a while.

Lastly, make sure you blow it out if the water has evaporated otherwise you could end up ruining your burner.

Evaporative Diffusers

These diffusers will put the essential oil in the air passively. Meaning, you can put a couple drops of oil on some tissue paper and the oil naturally gets into the air. For example, a reed diffuser and clay pendant can also be considered an evaporative diffuser. Typically, these diffusers are only for very small areas and don’t put a strong scent of essential oil into the air. Personally, I’m really not a big fan of these and don’t recommend you purchase them.

Don’t get me wrong they do look nice but I don’t really feel that they smell very potent and really just seem to be a waste of time and money.

Nebulizer Diffusers

Sometimes these kinds of diffusers are called atomizers. You don’t need any water, filter, etc. to use a nebulizer. Instead, you put in several drops of essential oil into the diffuser. There are some nebulizers that have a hose that hooks directly to a 5 to 10 ml bottle of essential oil. The nebulizer will then break the oils into smaller molecules and release them into the air.

Typically, nebulizers are higher priced than other diffusers.  They work great for larger rooms and don’t have to be run as frequently. Nebulizers can be kind of noisy. The strength of the oil that is released into the air is very potent, though. It’s highly recommended that you only use pure oils and don’t use carrier oils or diluted essential oils with nebulizers.

I highly recommend the Advanced Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser by DiffuserWorld.

Ultrasonic/Electric Diffusers

The rest of this article will talk about ultrasonic or electric diffusers. Electric diffusers or ultrasonic diffusers are the most popular diffusers used today. These diffusers are easy to use and don’t use any heat to diffuse the oils into the air. Typically, you add in some water and then a couple drops of essential oil. They can be used to help get humidity in the air and in the colder months.  An example would be the 500 ml URPOWER electronic diffuser.

Essential Oil Diffusers Sizes

There are several different sizes of diffusers. No, I’m not speaking about the size of the actual device. There is a tank which is measured in milliliters. Depending on the milliliters that the diffuser holds will determine how long it will last. Meaning, that bigger diffusers will be able to hold more water and last longer.

However, the size of the electronic diffuser has nothing to do with the amount of coverage you get. Meaning, a 150 ml device can cover as much area as a 500 ml device. The way you measure the coverage is by how many milliliters per hour the diffuser puts out.

Small Ultrasonic Diffusers

Small diffusers can be used for rooms that are 200 square feet or less.  For instance,  an entry way in your house or a small bathroom.

Capacity150 ml150 ml150 ml
Warranty12 month warranty12 month warranty18 month warranty

Medium Ultrasonic Diffusers

Medium diffusers can be used for rooms that are 200- 400 square feet.  For instance, an office, and smaller bedroom.

Capacity300 ml300 ml300 ml
Warranty18 month warranty12 month warranty12 month warranty

Large Ultrasonic Diffusers

Large diffusers can be used for rooms that are 400 square feet or more.  For instance, a living room or dinning room.

Capacity500 ml1,000 ml1,500 ml
Warranty6 month warranty18 month warranty12 month warranty

How To Use An Essential Oil Diffuser

InnoGear Essential Oil DiffuserNext, so you got the device and now you want to use the aromatherapy diffuser. But, what are the best practices for using it and how should you use it?

There are a lot of different diffusers to choose from. For this example I am going to show you how to do it with my InnoGear 150 ml diffuser. It might be slightly different depending on which electronic diffuser you have.

Twist the casing counter clock-wise to remove the casing.

Then you will see the plastic casing. This lifts off. Lay both of them somewhere clean.

Pour water to the diffuser. The one with InnoGear comes with a little plastic measuring cup. Do not over fill it; there is a max line which you should NEVER fill above it. Put the desired amount of essential oils after you put the water in.

Put the plastic container and casing back on. Make sure you line up the wholes so that the casing lines up with the plastic insert. Otherwise there will not be anywhere for the oil mist to escape.

Please note that a lot of essential oil diffusers just have a top that you remove and add water and oils to.  Again, I highly recommend that you don’t purchase any diffusers with a filter where you add drops to it.  Those diffusers are not very good.

Putting Essential Oils In Diffuser

You want to put the correct amount of essential oils into your diffuser. You don’t want the smell to be to weak. However, you don’t want to overdo it and make the scent extremely strong. The table down below shows the recommended drops of essential oil for the amount of water you are using in your diffuser:

100 ml3-5
200 ml6-10
300 ml9-12
400 ml12-15
500 ml15-20

How Long Should You Use A Diffuser

It’s recommended that you use a diffuser for 30 minutes on and then shut it off.  Let the essential oils circulate through the air for about an hour after that.  You can use the diffuser 3 times a day. Remember that essential oils are powerful and too much of a good thing can be bad for your health. For instance, with peppermint if you breathe it in too long it can cause difficulty breathing. Several electronic diffusers have auto-timers which diffuse the oil and shut on/off.  Also, some electronic diffusers do come with a remote control and you can adjust how much mist comes out of the diffuser.

How To Clean An Essential Oil Diffuser

It’s a good idea to clean your diffuser. This will keep it lasting longer and more efficiently.

You should clean it after 5-7 uses. Meaning, that if you have it on and runs completely out of water 5-7 times I would recommend cleaning it then. You don’t have to clean it if you use it for 30 minutes and turn it off 5 times.  That would be a hassle.

Optionally, a lot of manufacturers do state that you need to clean out your diffuser after every single use. This seems kind of obsessive to me. However, if you do decide to make sure you have a small plastic bottle where you can pour your water and oils in while you clean it.

Here are the steps you need to take to clean your diffuser:

  1. Fill the diffuser about half way. There is usually a “max line” on most electronic diffusers.
  2. Add about 10-20 drops of white vinegar. Make sure it’s pure white vinegar, though. This helps remove the oils from the walls of the diffuser and plastic pieces.
  3. Let the diffuser run for about 5-10 minutes. This will allow the mixture of vinegar and water cycle through the diffuser.
  4. Pour the water and vinegar mixture out.
  5. Use a cotton ball to dry all spots of the diffuser. Make sure there are not any spots with essential oil residue.
  6. Rinse the diffuser with clean water. Just the inside where you fill it with water.
  7. Empty the water.
  8. You can use a cotton ball to wipe down the inside or paper towels or a dry cloth.

Do make sure that your electronic diffuser is unplugged from the wall prior to cleaning it.

Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser Pros & Cons


  • Cheaper than nebulizers.
  • Not a fire hazard.
  • Easy to use and clean.
  • Very quiet.
  • Can put humidity in the air.


  • Less potent than nebulizers.
  • Can leak water.
  • The scent doesn’t stay around as long as nebulizers.

The Hopefully, this article has taught you all about aromatherapy essential oil diffusers. If you want to use them to inhale your essential oils they are required. If you don’t use an electronic diffuser you can always use a nebulizer, which is much more expensive. It’s vital that you have the correct size for the room that you are in, though; otherwise, you won’t be able to smell it. For large rooms, I would recommend using two smaller electronic diffusers. A lot of people will try to tell you to use lamps or heat in larger rooms. However, I don’t recommend using heat with essential oils.

There are a lot of essential oil diffusers on the market. I would highly recommend choosing a trusted brand name. Don’t just go with the cheapest diffuser you can find. Expect for them to last for a couple years if you use them daily. Some companies will actually replace them if they go out within their warranty.

Hopefully, this article helps you when using essential oils for aromatherapy. If there is anything that you’re unclear about in the article please leave a comment down below.

14 thoughts on “Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser – What You Need To Know About Them

  1. I found this very useful. I have been using candle heated ones.
    Never really looked into other types. It was very good to learn of all the different types.
    I have heard that the diffusers are no good for animals. Do you know anything about this?

    Thank you for putting this information together. It has helped me a lot.
    Many thanks 🙂

    Di 🙂

    1. Hey Diane,

      Good question there are a number of essential oils you want to avoid around dogs and cats.

      For instance, for dogs you want to avoid:

      Tea tree.
      Ylang Ylang
      Sweet birch.

      The list of oils around cats is a lot longer. Here is list of oils you want to avoid:

      Tea Tree.

  2. You certainly opened my eyes. I was only aware of the heating versions such as candles. I had no idea that there were other types such as Nebulizers and diffusers. Should I stop using my candles for essential oils though?

    1. Hey Jim,

      It’s a common misconception when it comes to using essential oils. A lot of people are unaware that you shouldn’t heat up the essential oils. It changes the chemistry of them. However, they do sell them in the store and it’s been debated that they don’t heat them up enough to not become effective. I could argue that point. But, as a best practice I would avoid heating up essential oils. Sure you might be able to smell the scent, but it might or might not have any therapeutic benefits.

  3. Thanks so much for this information. I learned a lot.
    I didn’t know that we shouldn’t use diffusers with heat. I never thought about the heat changing the chemistry of the oil.
    I also learned how to measure the amount of coverage I’ll get out of the diffuser. Now I won’t be disappointed when I buy a 500ml diffuser and it covers the same area as a 150ml.

    1. Hey Malika,

      Heat is really bad news for essential oils. A lot of people are surprised because when you use heat it fills the scent quickly in a room. For example, if you boil water, pour it in a ceramic bowl, and than add a couple drops of essential oil it will fill the room quickly with a scent. The downside is it chemically changes the essential oils when you do that.

      It’s very common for people to buy a 150 ml diffuser and then a 500 ml diffuser without really covering anymore square footage. Sometimes you just don’t have to change the water as frequently, though.

  4. I really appreciate the information you’ve provided here – I learned a lot! I own a diffuser that was gifted to me, so don’t know a lot about what to purchase in this area. I found your tips on how to clean the diffuser especially helpful!

    With nebulizers do you save on essential oils, though? I mean since they cost so much?

    1. Hey Christen,

      Nebulizers disperse the essential oil into the air better. However, you don’t have to use them as frequently. For instance, with a ultrasonic diffuser it’s recommended that you use it for 30 minutes and then shut it off. With a nebulizer it’s recommended that you use it for 10 minutes and shut it off.

      Nebulizers will use the essential oils pretty quickly, though. Especially, if you leave it on all day, which I don’t recommend.

      So to answer your question no nebulizers don’t help you save on cost. They are just more potent.

  5. I am a big fan of essential oils and diffusers & had no idea there were so many different ones available on the market. Wow
    Thanks for an informative post, and taking it all the way to the cleaning aspect of it. I really like the tip shared of using vinegar & water.

    1. Hey Lelani,

      There are lots of diffusers on the market. But, there are a ton of electronic diffusers. It’s good to go with a trusted brand like InnoGear, URPOWER, VicTsing, etc.

  6. Thank you for this post. I didn’t realize how many different diffusers there are. I have used the light bulb diffuser oil ring pads they tend to burn and I tried cinnamon oil in tea light diffuser and it got so hot it started to boil and splattered all over my wall. That was a mess to clean. I never used that again.

    1. Hey Tami,

      Yeah, the heated diffusers are trouble and sadly so many people try them out just to learn that they are a waste of money. Not to mention the mess you have to clean up after using them. I avoid them completely, though.

  7. Wow, what a great article! I absolutely love essential oils as they are so marvelous for healing among many other things. We always have our nebulizer going at work and I must admit they do work so well compared to other diffusers we’ve tried. And lucky for us we sell essential oils so we have a full range to test out.

    It’s interesting what you say about the peppermint maybe causing breathing problems with long-term use. You wouldn’t think something like oils could be so powerful, but they are. I’m going to bear this in mind in future. Thanks

  8. Some great information 🙂

    I have been considering some options for essential oil diffusers, and your article was very helpful. Thank you for breaking down the pros and cons, and offering your personal opinion on which to use. I am glad I read it as I had not realized that you should not heat essential oils.

    Do you have any recommendations on using certain oils for certain things? Which type of essential oil would you recommend to use for stress relief?

    Thanks again

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