How to Choose an Essential Oil Diffuser

by Cynthia on March 8, 2012

Young Living Essential Oil Diffuser

Based on feedback I receive from clients, there seems to be confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to choosing an essential oil diffuser.  There are many kinds of diffusers.  What kind is best for you and your particular needs?

Simple!  That can be determined by your reason for diffusing essential oils.

Let’s begin by establishing what is an essential oil diffuser.

An essential oil diffuser is any device which allows an essential oil to evaporate and be dispersed into the surrounding environment.

This process of diffusing an essential oil is typically accomplished in 4 different ways:

  • heat:  heating an essential oil, either through a burning candle or an electrically heated vaporizer, increases the temperature, causing the essential oil to evaporate into the air.
  • ventilation:  a small fan will evaporate essential oils when the airflow is passed over a wick or absorbent pad which has been saturated with the essential oil
  • humidification:  a mist can be produced with either a fan, heat or ultrasonic waves of energy and a mixture of water and essential oil
  • nebulization:  using a high velocity, pressurized air stream and a specially designed jet nozzle forces the break down of essential oils into very tiny particles in the air.  This process is also called cold air diffusion or cold air atomization.

Before going any further, I beg you not to use any form of heat to diffuse essential oils.  Plain and simple, heat will alter the chemical composition of the essential oil which can destroy the oil’s purity and therapeutic value.

“But I am diffusing low grade essential oils from the health food store as an air freshener.  I am not concerned about the therapeutic value.”

Even worse!  Essential oils from the health food store or bath and body shop are laden with synthetic chemicals and solvents.  When you heat these essential oils, you are putting these toxins into the air and inhaling them.  Please don’t.  You are scaring me!  If nothing else, make sure the essential oils you are diffusing are therapeutic grade.

Why are you diffusing the essential oil?

If your only reason for diffusing essential oils is as a room freshener, a ventilation type of diffuser offers an economical and simple way to provide evaporation.  Because it does not break the oil down into smaller particles, it offers very little therapeutic benefit.  You would choose this type of diffuser if you were looking to replace your toxic commercial plug-in air fresheners with a healthy alternative.

If you are looking to humidify your living space while adding a light scent, the humidification or ultra-sonic diffuser would be ideal for you.  Again, it has limited therapeutic capacity because the amount of essential oil is so small.

Finally, if your intention is for therapeutic value, nebulization is by far the best essential oil diffuser to use.  It does not alter the chemical composition of the oil, it is not diluted in mist and it breaks down the pure essential oil molecules without separation of the mixture.  It produces a particle size small enough for the lungs and body to absorb quickly and thoroughly.

Suffice to say, whatever type of diffuser you choose, promise me that you will only diffuse therapeutic grade essential oils.  Therapeutic grade insures that the essential oil has undergone laboratory testing and is free of synthetic additives and harmful solvents.  Please remember, you will be breathing these oils into your body.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Katybeth Jensen March 8, 2010 at 6:10 PM

I love my Young Living’s Home Diffuser. It works great, there is a great video that explains how to use it, and I think its kind of cute.
And…..after using a lesser brand grocery store Lavender….I will take the essential oil pledge and only use therapeutic grade essential oils! The “other” brand smelled awful.


Cynthia Kasper March 9, 2010 at 4:22 PM

I am glad that you have taken the therapeutic grade essential oil pledge, Katybeth. And I am sure your campers are too!


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