Essential oil diffusers and humidifiers may seem like two peas in a pod, but you’ll be surprised to know how different they are. They generally used for similar purposes, but usually vary in size and efficiency. Although it’s possible to substitute a diffuser with a humidifier, there are certain factors you need to consider.
Diffusers are often cheaper than most humidifiers. Thus, if you’re limited by your budget, or if you just love the aroma of essential oils in your room, you might rely on a diffuser.
Differences Between Diffuser and Humidifier
To answer your question, we first need to look at the subtle and the major differences between a diffuser and a humidifier. Both of these appliances are used to moisturize the air and raise the humidity in a particular area. However, they each have their own ways of doing it.
What is a Humidifier?
Humidifiers are ideally used in areas with cold climates to keep the temperature crisp and comforting. During winter, most people in cold countries have their furnaces running throughout the day. Thus, a humidifier consists of a reservoir that contains around a gallon of water.
They are usually larger than diffusers and have higher storage capacity. Out of all the different types of humidifiers, ultrasonic humidifiers are the most similar to essential oil diffusers. These devices break the water with the help of ultrasonic waves and convert it into a fine mist.
The mist is then generously spread into the atmosphere, which eventually increases the humidity level. Humidifiers are usually larger and can create more mist compared to a diffuser.
What is Diffuser?
A diffuser is a small but useful home appliance that comes with a 150-300 ml reservoir. This reservoir contains a mixture of water and essential oils that are converted into the mist. An ultrasonic diffuser (that resembles a humidifier) is equipped with a vibrating plate that quickly breaks down the mixture.
The water and oil are then vaporized and dispersed into the atmosphere in the form of mist. However, a diffuser can’t produce the same amount of mist as a whole-house humidifier. Hence, they are more suitable for raising the humidity in small rooms. Diffusers are also much easier to maintain as they don’t contain tubes.
Can a Diffuser Raise the Humidity Level of a Room?
A diffuser is mainly used to produce a fine mist of essential oil. The oils are carried by tiny droplets of water and spread across the room. This also introduces some moisture in the air, but it’s only a byproduct of the process. The amount of mist produced during this process may not be enough to raise the humidity noticeably.
On the other hand, there are certain limitations to using an essential oil diffuser. If you wish to use essential oils, you can only keep the diffuser running for 30 minutes at a time. You can only turn on the diffuser a few times a day for it to work efficiently.
Besides, considering the small amount of mist it can produce, it’s not always enough for altering a room’s humidity significantly. Fortunately, certain diffuser models on the market can produce enough steam to cause a noticeable difference. These models tend to be more expensive than usual.
Alternatively, you can also use a diffuser with only some plain water instead of the oil-water mixture. This will allow the diffuser to run constantly for as long as it needs to humidify the air efficiently.
Are Essential Oils Compatible with Cold Mist Humidifiers?
It’s usually not recommended to use essential oils with cold mist humidifiers. There are a couple of reasons why they can’t be used together for optimal performance.
First, essential oils have some strong properties which can be harmful to certain types of materials. Different humidifiers consist of reservoirs made from different types of plastic. Thus, essential oils are strong enough to break down certain materials due to prolonged use.
Likewise, diffusers are equipped with reservoirs that are made from high-grade plastic materials. This plastic can withstand the corrosive properties of the essential oils. Cold mist humidifiers aren’t capable to withstand the oils and can be damaged over time.
On the other hand, cool mist humidifiers need to be installed directly to the plumbing system of your house. The appliance draws cold water from the very bottom of the water tank and converts it into a form of mist. It’s spread out into the atmosphere until it reaches the desired level of humidity.
Even though this might be an efficient way to add moisture to the air, there is a slight problem as you might already know that oil and water don’t mix. Hence, diffusers are equipped with certain mechanisms that can instantly mix the oil and water within its reservoir.
Accordingly, humidifiers lack this mechanism, and as a result, all the oil remains on the water surface. This means that the water that’s converted into mist doesn’t contain any essential oils. The oil is only dispersed after all the water in the reservoir has been spread into the atmosphere.
It takes several hours for all the water to be used up in the process. You would have to wait for a significant amount of time to reap the benefits of the essential oils. Therefore, it’s not a smart choice to use essential oils with cool mist humidifiers.
Why are Essential Oils Used in Diffusers?
Essential oils are extracted from plant essences such as rosemary. These are highly beneficial for people with certain physiological conditions. Breathing in essential oils has positive effects on your body, and allows you to stay healthy regularly. They are also very volatile in nature.
This means that they can easily evaporate without the added temperature, and can be dispersed with minimal air movement. Once the diffuser starts distributing the essential oils, they eventually spread out to cover a larger area. This allows everyone in your house to experience its positive effects.
To summarize, yes, you can use an essential oil diffuser as a humidifier in your household. When used with oils, the diffuser can distribute some moisture in the air. The amount of mist produced will not be as much as a humidifier. If you want a noticeable change, it’s recommended not to add any oil to the diffuser.
Essential oils are natural and can be helpful for treating certain medical conditions. However, using this oil will only allow you to humidify the air 30 minutes at a time. This might show an unsatisfactory result. So, to gain the optimum moisture from a diffuser, it’s better to just use plain water.