Essential Oils

Essential Oil Diffuser Vs Humidifier

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Essential oils are very useful not only due to their lovely scent but the many health benefits that they also bring. In order to benefit from them, you should know how to properly use them. Some people would add them to their lotions, salves, soap, shampoo, massage oils and other products. Others diffuse the essential oils directly into the air so anyone in the room benefits from it.

In this article, we’re going to look at two different methods of using essential oils: diffusers and humidifiers. Each will provide great aromatherapy, and deliver delightful scents throughout your home or office. But there are differences between them that are important to explain.

We’ll be looking at the topic of Essential Oil Diffuser Vs Humidifier and discussing which is the best way to disperse your essential oils.

Essential Oil Diffuser Vs Humidifier

essential oil diffuser vs humidifier

The two most common ways to release the smell of essential oils are essential oil diffusers and humidifiers. It is common for people to confuse these two methods because there are multiple types of diffusers, and only some humidifiers are compatible with essential oils.

Regardless, their use isn’t limited to essential oils alone, they also differ from one another in terms of water requirement.

One needs water to function while the other may or may not function without it.

Essential Oils

What Are Oil Diffusers?

Diffusers are the ones used to diffuse the essential oils into the air. This is best for people living with other people who don’t mind the scent of the essential oil. Diffusers are used to allow the scent of the essential oils to fill up the room or area.

Diffusers are also used for aromatherapy, similar to incense cones and incense sticks.

There are also different types of diffusers including heat, evaporative, nebulizing and ultrasonic. Typically these work by adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the unit for diffusion.

Benefits Of Using Diffusers

The best reason to use diffusers for essential oils is their compatibility. Different essential oils have different properties that may damage some humidifiers. With essential oil diffusers, the essential oils are introduced into the air and the mist can be absorbed by the skin or can be inhaled with the air that you breathe.

Depending on the essential oils used, they may have varying effects on the body. If you’re just getting started with Essential Oils, see our favorite essential oil starter kits.

Additionally, diffusers are also used to diffuse essential oils that have anti-microbial functions. These can help lessen the bacteria or viruses in the air to help prevent the spread of infection.

It is quite useful when there’s someone sick in the house and you want to lessen the chances of getting sick as well.

How Do Essential Oil Diffusers Work?

Diffusers work differently depending on the type. There are a wide variety of essential oil diffusers available, from heat diffusers to nebulizing diffusers to wearable diffusers. Let’s look at the basics of each of the major types of diffusers here.

Evaporative Diffusers

With evaporative diffusers, you have a pad where you drop essential oils on. This pad is blown by a diffuser fan that helps the essential oil to evaporate faster like the Tohsssik Waterless Oil Diffuser.

Some evaporative diffusers don’t even have a fan like this Maromalife Car Diffuser. It uses the air conditioning system to blow through the wick for the essential oil to evaporate. See our article on car diffusers for more information and recommendations.

There are even others that are designed as jewelry like the Mtlee Aromatherapy Necklace or the PAWALT Diffuser Bracelet. They only hold the essential oil and let it gradually evaporate on its own.

Heat Diffusers

Heat diffusers, just like evaporative diffusers make the evaporation of the essential oils faster by using heat. Some are electric, wherein a pad or an area where the essential oil is placed is heated. The Airomé Bamboo Pluggable Essential Oil Diffuser is a great example of that. The heat is controlled but it is still hot enough for the essential oil to evaporate.

There are also heat diffusers wherein you use a tealight candle to heat up the pan where the essential oil is placed. Just be careful with heating diffusers because they can be hot enough to burn the skin when touched.

Nebulizing Diffusers

TOMNEW Essential Oil Nebulizer

Nebulizing Essential Oil Diffusers, like the TOMNEW shown above, are most preferred by those who practice aromatherapy. This is because nebulizing it is the purest version of essential oil inhalation.

Nebulizers are made up of two tubes, one blows the pressurized air while the other sucks the oil. With this, tiny droplets of essential oil are mixed with the air due to a strong jet of air that blows through the essential oil.

There is no dilution with these units, and a few drops of oil are all you need.

See our article on nebulizing diffuser reviews for more information on Nebulizers.

Ultrasonic Diffusers

ASAKUKI Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser

Ultrasonic Diffusers, like the ASAKUKI shown above, are also a favorite when it comes to diffusing essential oils. This kind of diffuser is why some confuse humidifiers for diffusers. This is like a mix of the two and is also called as a humidifying diffuser. With this, a disk vibrates and the agitation of water and oil breaks it into tiny particles we see as a mist.

This mist isn’t only made of essential oils. It is also made of water so the air is also humidified through this device.

See our article on ultrasonic essential oil diffuser reviews for more information and recommendations.

What Are Humidifiers?

Honeywell Essential Oil Humidifier

Humidifiers, from the name itself, add humidity to the air. These are best used by people who live in dry climates. Humidifiers are especially useful in wintertime when the air is cold and can’t hold as much moisture as it would during the summer days.

Like diffusers, there are also different kinds of humidifiers. These including warm mist, impeller, evaporative and ultrasonic.  Humidifiers may or may not be used with essential oils, and many of us use humidifiers simply for air quality.

In fact, you may already have a humidifier in your house that may be compatible with essential oils. If you have one, check to see if you can add oils to it!

Benefits of Humidifiers

Problems related to the presence of dry air can be tackled with the use of humidifiers. Humidifiers are essential for those with dry skin, nosebleeds, and even those who can’t breathe well because of colds. Humidifiers increase the humidity in the air so that it is easier for to breathe.

Humidifiers can also be used with water-based fragrances. These make the room smell fresher and nicer too. Depending on the humidifier you select, some can also be used with essential oils.

Just take note that not all humidifiers can be used with essential oils because some of the plastic parts of the humidifier will get damaged in contact with pure essential oils.

How Do Humidifiers Work?

Ultrasonic Humidifier

The main requirement of all humidifiers is water. Humidifiers aerosolize water so it can add moisture to the air. All the different types will have a water reservoir.

Most of the time, humidifiers are much larger than essential oil diffusers. They are typically less attractive and sculptural than diffusers.

For warm mist humidifiers, moisture is released to the air by boiling the water and producing steam. Evaporative humidifiers, on the other hand, produce cool mists like this MOVTIP Portable Diffuser. This is done by soaking up a wick with the water then a fan blows through it to evaporate the liquid and turn it into a mist.

The impeller humidifiers make use of a spinning disk, which breaks up the water into smaller droplets before it gets released into the air. The ultrasonic humidifiers are similar to the ultrasonic diffusers discussed above because they also make use of a vibrating metal disk.

The vibration agitates the water and turns it into either a cool or warm mist.

There are some humidifiers that also work as diffusers. They are compatible with essential oils and not only water-soluble fragrances.

Which One Should I Get?

There are lots of factors that come into play when choosing to buy a diffuser or a humidifier.


The main one is the compatibility with essential oils. If you plan to use it primarily for aromatherapy, then you should go for an essential oil diffuser. Nebulizing diffusers are going to produce the most potent, purest, most delightful essential oil scents, and they will also look the best visually in the room.

On the other hand, if you want essential oils, but also like the humidification aspect, a humidifier can make a lot of sense. You don’t need to purchase two units, and as mentioned above, you may already have a humidifier in your house. Check to see if it’s compatible with essential oils.

Go ahead, we’ll wait.

If your main objectives are to is to improve the humidity (especially during the cold season) and introduce a pleasant scent, then a humidifier should be your choice. Keep in mind that these objects are often clunky looking, and you may feel like you have a coffee maker sitting in on your nightstand (not a bad idea, now that I think about it…)


If you want a versatile device that you can use to diffuse essential oils and add moisture to the air, it is best to get a humidifying diffuser. These can function with or without the addition of essential oils. They are also tough enough to handle essential oils, unlike other types of humidifiers.

Just keep in mind that if you’re in an area that gets dry in winter, and humid in summer, combining your essential oils and your humidity may not make sense.


Aside from the need for moisture, you should also consider your budget. Both humidifiers and diffusers come in a wide range of prices. It is always best to find high-quality ones. Although they may seem expensive upfront, they’ll be useful for a longer time and you are less likely to replace them.

The size of the room you are to use it for also matters. If you plan to have one nearby while working on your desk, a personal sized one would do. However, if you need a large room essential oil diffuser and you wish to fill the room, then get the full-sized diffusers or humidifiers.

Similarly, you should also think about how long you plan to use the device per session. Diffusers usually have a smaller capacity than humidifiers so they won’t last as long. You’d also need to refill the water or oil more often when using a smaller unit.

Use Cases

Lastly, you should also consider the use of essential oils. If you plan to use them for therapeutic use, then it is best to get diffusers, especially those that don’t need water to run. This will make the diffused essential oils more potent and less diluted.

Final Words

Diffusers and humidifiers differ from each other. Each is beneficial for various use and selecting which of them to buy will depend on your goals upon using them. If you’re mainly looking to experience the scents and aromatherapy from essential oils, you’ll want a nebulizing diffuser. This gives the purest scent and is compatible with all essential oils.

However, there are humidifying diffusers that combine the functionality of the humidifier and diffuser. Just note that because these use water, the essential oil is more diluted than those that diffuse pure essential oil.