Buying Guide – Shopping for the Best Essential Oil Diffuser
For all our recommendations, choosing the best essential oil diffuser ultimately comes down to your unique goals and personal preferences. To help you choose the right model, we’ve explored the different styles of diffusers and their pros and cons below.
What is an Essential Oil Diffuser?
Essential oil diffusers have grown in popularity over the last decade as public attention has turned to holistic therapies, ayurvedic medicine, and self-care in general. Recent research from the medical community has underscored the therapeutic benefits of essential oils on mood, sleep, and overall health. Although further investigation is needed, studies to date suggest that essential oils may be a powerful tool in treating mild sleep issues.
There are a variety of techniques for harnessing the positive benefits of essential oils, including sprays and facial steaming. Diluting essential oils with a diffuser is one of the quickest, simplest, and most enjoyable ways to do so. Essential oil diffusers are electronic devices that spread the oil’s therapeutic aromas throughout the surrounding environment to be easily absorbed by the body. Once the aroma is inhaled, smell receptors activate and interact with the brain and nervous system in a way that can affect emotions and health. The interaction may depend on the type of essential oil that has been defused; lavender, for example, can help calm the nervous system by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. Bergamot, for another, is thought to reduce anxiety and stress.
How Does it Work?
Today, there are four primary types of essential oil diffusers on the market. We’ve defined essential oil diffuser styles and outlined potential benefits and drawbacks below.
Ultrasonic diffusers rely on electronic frequencies to create vibrations and disperse a fine mist of water and essential oils into the air. Ultrasonic diffusers are preferable because they produce vapor using ultrasonic vibrations rather than heat, which can compromise the benefits of essential oils. Because ultrasonic diffusers release a mixture of water and essential oils, they also serve as a humidifier for dry air. In addition, many ultrasonic diffuser models can automatically turn on and off to control essential oil distribution and ensure user safety. This variety of diffuser is relatively quiet, durable, and inexpensive.
A variety of diffusers may rely on heat to diffuse essential oil throughout the air. Examples of heat diffusers include candle burners, electric heat diffusers, lamp rings, and steam inhalers. Although quiet and inexpensive, heat from these diffusers may alter the chemical composition and compromise the health benefits of essential oils.
Similar to perfume atomizers, nebulizer diffusers deliver powerful bursts of aromas into the air. Using an atomizer, the device breaks down essential oils into tiny molecules and distributes them throughout the atmosphere in droplet form. Because nebulizer diffusers don’t dilute the oils with heat or water, the devices are able to emit a stronger concentration of essential oils into the air than many other types of diffusers. And by breaking them into ultra tiny molecules, nebulizer diffusers may facilitate the absorption of essential oils into the body. However, this type of diffuser tends to be more expensive, more fragile, and noisier than other varieties. In addition, nebulizer diffusers may use up oils faster than other diffuser models.
Using a fan, evaporative diffusers transform oils from liquids to gas and disperse components throughout the air. With this type of diffuser, essential oils are dropped onto a pad or filter beneath the fan to be distributed. Evaporative diffusers can dispel oils quickly and are generally less expensive than other kinds of diffusers. However, the evaporative method can be unbalanced, releasing lighter oil components quicker than heavier ones and thus disrupting the therapeutic benefits. Because of this fractioning, evaporative diffusers may function best as personal diffusers and in small rooms.
What to Consider when Shopping for an Essential Oil Diffuser
In addition to type, there are a number of other factors to consider when shopping for an essential oil diffuser. We’ve discussed key considerations below.
- Diffuser type – The type of diffuser may be the first and most important consideration when making a purchase. The style of diffuser you pick could significantly impact the potency, effectiveness, and benefits of essential oil emissions. For example, choosing a nebulizing diffuser might allow you to unleash the most benefits from your essential oils, while an ultrasonic diffuser will let you enjoy the added benefit of a humidifier. Alternatively, a candle diffuser might add a warm ambiance to your room but with diminished essential oil healing capacity. An evaporator diffuser may be a sensible choice for those on a budget and planning to use their device in a small space.
- Design –To decide on the design of your diffuser, consider its intended use as well as your personal tastes. If you regularly plan to travel with your diffuser or bring it to work, yoga, etc., you’ll want a diffuser that is both compact and light. Alternatively, if you plan to keep your diffuser at home, you may want to choose a color and material that complements your interior design scheme and a size that doesn’t overwhelm the room’s square footage.
- Functionality – To avoid headaches and ensure you get the most out of your purchase, ease of use is another worthwhile consideration when shopping for an essential oil diffuser. Depending on the type and brand, different diffusers may call for simple to somewhat more complex setup. The vast majority of top-rated, modern diffusers are designed for user-friendliness and easy setup, but be sure to review instructions provided by the manufacturers. Also consider whether you are willing and available to regularly refill your diffuser with water, as an ultrasonic diffuser requires. Similarly, if your diffuser involves a candle or other source of heat, you may need to be available to regularly monitor the device for safety reasons. Many diffusers require regular cleaning; it’s worth taking a look to determine how often and thoroughly you’ll be cleaning yours before making a buying decision.
- Timer & Safety Features – Particularly when using a diffuser to fall asleep, a timer can be invaluable. Similarly, an automatic off function can be critical when it comes to ensuring household safety and preventing malfunctions, particularly with ultrasonic diffusers.
- Extras – Consider extra features like color-changing LED lights, touch sensors, and time settings, and which would be useful to your unique lifestyle and home environment.
Why Use Essential Oils
From origins in ancient Egypt, essential oils have grown into a $12 billion international industry. The use of essential oils, also known as aromatherapy, is a type of natural, alternative medicine associated with a number of benefits. While further scientific study is needed to truly understand aromatherapy, millions of people utilize aromatherapy to relieve pain, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and promote many other types of healing.
The practice of aromatherapy involves using highly concentrated extracts from different plants believed to help physical or psychological wellness. To access the purported benefits, users often inhale or apply essential oils directly to the skin. To inhale essential oils, users may use an essential oil diffuser, add a few drops to boiling water to create a facial steamer, or rub them onto their hands and inhale the aroma.
The benefits associated with essential oils may depend on the type of oil used. We’ve explored some of the most common types of essential oils and their associated benefits below:
- Chamomile: Thought to combat cold, fevers, and nausea.
- Eucalyptus: Used as a topical pain-reliever and decongestant.
- Frankincense: Considered useful in soothing anxiety, also as an anti-inflammatory.
- Lavender: Can promote feelings of calmness and induce sleep.
- Peppermint: Believed to boost energy as well as help prevent cold and flu.
- Rosemary: Thought to reduce joint pain while promoting skin and hair health.
How Can Essential Oils Help You Sleep?
Though more research is merited, essential oils are thought to help sleep in a variety of ways. Scents like jasmine, lavender, clary sage, sweet marjoram, and bergamot are thought to promote relaxation. Others, such as thyme, eucalyptus, and clove, can help reduce snoring and sleep apnea symptoms. Introducing these scents into your bedtime routine through the use of an essential oil diffuser or other method can also help train your mind to associate certain aromas with sleeping.
While many oils promote relaxation, others — like lemongrass and tangerine — are associating with energizing effects and should typically be avoided at bedtime. It’s worth noting that various essential oils have different effects on different people, so it’s advisable to experiment with different scents to find one that works best for you.