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Buying Guide: The Best Aroma Diffuser - how to choose?

Wondering which Diffuser is right for you? Looking to buy an aromatherapy diffuser but are not sure where to start?

It seems like there are so may styles and types of essential oil diffusers on the market today - and it can quickly become overwhelming when trying to decide which one is right for you - especially if you are new to essential oils. We aim to teach the benefits of electric diffusers, nebulizers, atomizers, ultrasonic diffusers, fan diffusers and oil warmers; how they diffuse aroma oils into the air, and how each product can have vastly different results. Furthermore, we will explain why passive methods of diffusion (aroma spray, inhaler, ceramic bowl or steam pot) to diffuse therapy oils may be a waste of money - even though these methods costs little to nothing! Mechanical Diffusers are a much more practical, efficient and cost effective method of utilizing mother nature's oils.

Let's start by looking at the various types of essential oil diffusers on the market today. The most popular items are:

~ Ultrasonic Aroma Diffusers
~ Fan Diffusers
~ Electric Aroma Diffusers (Aroma Lamps)
~ Essential Oil Nebulizers
~ Oil Warmers
~ USB Diffusers
~ Steam Pot
~ Aroma Spray



Ultrasonic Aroma Diffusers

(Also know as an Ultrasonic Nebulizer or Ultrasonic Atomizer) This style uses water and ultrasonic technology to break aroma oils into microscopic particles - Does this really make a difference? Some believe that it can because the ultra fine oil particles are suspended in the air - providing an long lasting and "easy to absorb" method of diffusion without damaging the aroma chemicals with heat. In addition, most units also provide fresh active oxygenized air and additional moisture - improving the air quality. In most cases, using carrier oils is not recommended, so be sure your essential oils are undiluted.

  • The cost of ownership on a diffuser of this type is relatively low - just add water. Replacement caps/covers may be helpful depending on model selected
  • Best used in spas, salons, doctors office, dentist, reception area, hospice center, massage parlor, nursing facilities, holistic settings, home because the unit is programmable and can be intermittent - lasting all day.
  • Price Range: ~ Moderate-Expensive @ $50-$300

Pros:
~ Stylish - offered in a wide range styles and materials
~ Easy to operate
~ Easy to clean
~ Auto Shut-off
~ Timers with multiple speeds
~ Can be used as a humidifier (or add hot water for a warm mist facial)
~ Quiet
~ Broad coverage (250 ml capacity typically covers 300-500 Sq Ft)
~ Little to No Wasted product!
Cons:
~ Moderately expensive
~ Smaller units have shorter run-times and smaller coverage

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Fan Diffusers

- Fan powered aroma diffusers come in a variety of shapes. This type of diffuser typically uses an aroma pad of cotton or compact-pressed paper material and a fan. You put 10-20 drops of oil on the pad, insert into the unit and let the fan pull air across the scent pad. No heat or water required. The pad can usually be reused several times, and work with any type of oil - thick or thin.

  • The cost of ownership on a diffuser of this type is relatively low - but replacement pads are required
  • Best used in the office, reception area, massage room, dorm room, bedroom, bathroom
  • Price Range: ~ Inexpensive @ $40-$60

Pros:
~ Easy to operate
~ No Cleaning required
~ Most have Multiple speeds (hi/low)
~ Moderate coverage (typically covers 200-300 Sq Ft)
Cons:
~ Not programmable settings - usually on/off & high/low
~ No Auto Shutoff
~ Does not disperse EO particles as finely as ultrasonic units - thus the scent is not as strong
~ More oils needed to reach the desired level of scenting - so the ultimate cost can be higher due to waste

 

 

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Electric Aroma Diffusers

- This style is mainly comprised of units known as aroma lamps - that is, the unit is warmed using a light bulb. It is typically made of glass or ceramic material that surrounds a 10-20 watt bulb that gets hot. As the bulb gets hot, it warms the container holding the oil. Once the oil warms, it begins to fill the air with the desired scent. Some aroma therapists argue that this method of diffusion can alter the aroma constituents with heat - making the resulting product less effective.

  • The cost of ownership on a diffuser of this type is relatively low - you just need to replace the light bulb once in a while and have a spare glass dish if it should break or crack. (this can happen if cold water is put onto a hot dish)
  • Best used in the home's main living area - not recommended where pets and kids play
  • Price Range: ~ Inexpensive @ $10-$25

Pros:
~ Stylish - offered in a wide range of colors, styles and materials
~ Easy to use
~ Easy to clean
~ Doubles as a night light
~ Adjustable light/heat output
~ Silent
~ Medium coverage (typically covers 100-200 Sq Ft)
Cons:
~ No auto shut-off
~ Diffuser can get hot
~ Must add water to prevent burning/dry-out
~ Must check on the oil every 15 minutes
~ Can be messy/difficult to clean
~ Fire Hazard

 

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Essential Oil Nebulizers

- also known as Cold Air Diffusers. These diffusers are more like atomizers - dispersing an ultra fine mist of aroma particles into the air much like the ultrasonic's but without the added benefit of moisture. A specially designed glass piece disperses the mist into the air with the help of an aquarium style pump - it works quickly and fills the room evenly throughout - covering a large area

  • The cost of ownership on a diffuser of this type is relatively low - although replacement glass nozzles can cost $20-$25
  • Best used in large spaces such as spas, salons, massage parlor, nursing facilities, holistic settings where extra coverage is required.
  • Price Range: ~ Moderate - Expensive @ $60-$300


Pros:
~ Large coverage areas of up to 800 Sq Ft
~ Little to No Wasted product!
~ Easy to clean - with rubbing alcohol
Cons:
~ The aquarium style pump can be noisy
~ Can "spit" when clogged
~ Not programmable settings - usually on/off & high/low
~ Glass parts can be fragile

 

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Oil Warmer

- AKA - Aroma burner. We've all seen these style units in your local craft store. They are typically made of glass, soapstone or ceramic material with a built-in bowl and a space for a tea light candle. As the candle burns, it warms the container holding the oil. Once the oil warms, it begins to fill the air with the desired scent. Some aroma therapists argue that this method of diffusion can alter the aroma constituents with heat - making the resulting product less effective. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on children and pets around an open flame!

  • The cost of ownership on a diffuser of this type is low - candles are inexpensive at the craft outlet.
  • Best used in the home's main living area - not recommended where pets and kids play
  • Price Range: ~ Inexpensive @ $5-$15

Pros:
~ Stylish - offered in a wide range of colors, styles and materials
~ Easy to use
~ Easy to clean
~ Silent
~ Medium coverage (typically covers 100-200 Sq Ft)
Cons:
~ No auto shut-off
~ Open Flame
~ Must add water to prevent burning/dry-out
~ Must check on the oil every 15 minutes
~ Not programmable settings
~ Messy - can spill, damaging furniture

 

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USB Diffusers

- Convenient USB drives that have a space for a few drops of oil. Simply plug the USB drive into your computer, add a drop or 2 of oil and you will have a nice little waft of fragrance. The unit uses heat generated from the drive to warm the oil. Be mindful not to leave it unattended so that the oil does not burn.

  • The cost of ownership on a diffuser of this type is low.
  • Best used in the office, dorm or traveling with a laptop (on the plane, train, Metro, etc)
  • Price Range: ~ Inexpensive @ $3-$5

Pros:
~ Stylish - offered in a wide range of colors
~ Easy to use
Cons:
~ Personal space only

 

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Steam Pot and Aroma Spays

- we have put these 2 types together because they are easy ways to diffuse oils at home and they have many things in common. They can be done with simple equipment you already have (a spray bottle or metal pot), they do not cost much at all, and they are just about the same in terms of effectiveness.

Steaming Pot - add water and bring to a boil - turn down the heat and add a few drops of essential oil. Let the steam vapor spread throughout the room - but remember not to leave the pot unattended. This is not the optimal method of diffusion because heat is involved, which could alter the aroma constituents and there is no blower or fan to help spread the aroma evenly throughout the room. But in a pinch- this method works just fine!

Aroma Spray - add your favorite aroma oils to water in a spray bottle- shake vigorously and spray. Be mindful not to spray directly onto furniture or fabrics as some oils may stain. Spray in any area including the garbage can, toilet, shower, and on solid surface counter tops. This is not the optimal method because the particles are not the ultra fine mist that is easily absorbed through inhalation - and the spray does not stay suspended in the air for long but this works great for many household needs.

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