Is an essential oil diffuser the same as a humidifier?
Oil diffuser vs Humidifier. This debate has been going on ever since the popularity of essential oils gained speed.
I get asked the question, what is the difference between an essential oil diffuser and humidifier?, all the time and can I save money by just using my humidifier as an aromatherapy diffuser?
I understand asking these questions about humidifiers vs diffusers because I'm thrifty and if I can save some money I want to do that. Plus one more thing to take up space and clutter my home is not what I need.
But is there really an ultrasonic humidifier out there suitable for diffusing essential oils?
In this post, I'm going to cover:
- Why humidity level in our homes is important
- The differences between humidifiers and diffusers.
- Do essential oil diffusers increase the humidity level?
- Types of essential oil diffusers and the ones that have a large water reservoir
- Can you use essential oils in a cool-mist and/ or warm mist humidifier?
- Do humidifiers change the chemical makeup of essential oils making them not work?
- Different types of humidifiers
- How you can save money by picking the best humidifier diffuser for your needs.
- Best choice diffusers and humidifiers for your room size
*This post contains affiliate links to the essential oils and other products I talk about in the post. Purchasing them here from my blog is no extra cost to you but I do earn a commission that helps in the cost of running this blog. Thanks for your support!
If your curious (or in a hurry):
Why humidity level in our homes is important.
According to the Mayo Clinic. The ideal relative humidity in your home is somewhere between 30-50% humidity.
Low humidity can cause dry skin, irritate nasal passages and throat, and make eyes dry and itchy.
High Humidity can cause increased bacteria and mold growth in the home. resulting in allergy, sinus congestion and respiratory issues.
Areas of dry climates aren't the only places that need to be mindful of dry air. Homes with wood stoves and other heat sources can also become low in humidity. To check and monitor your home's relative humidity you can use an indoor thermometer/ hygrometer to measure humidity.
My favorite indoor thermometer/ hygrometer are these little ones and if you can get the set of three for less than $20 that is a great deal.
Humidifier vs Diffuser
So let's first talk about how humidifiers and diffusers are the same.
- They both add moisture to the air by putting out water vapor into the air.
- They both can use tap water
Beyond this, they are completely different.
Let me explain the main differences.
- typically smaller devices that are made of smaller water tanks. they typically hold around 150ml – 300ml of water and run for up to 4 hrs with a small amount of moisture.
- A diffuser's purpose is to create a small stream of mist using ultrasonic technology to break essential oils into fine particles that can then be carried with the water molecules into the air for a therapeutic effect.
- The most popular type of essential oil diffuser for doing this is an ultrasonic diffuser. The vibrating plate inside the water tank mixes and vaporizes the water and oils by shaking. this makes it easier to breathe in essential oils.
- There are no tubes or enclosed areas where water sits making cleaning a diffuser and maintenance typically easy.
- Typically are larger machines with bigger water tanks that hold around 1 gallon of water.
- A humidifier's purpose is to help control a set level of moisture in an entire room.
- They typically do not have the ability to mix essential oils and water. Although some do have what is called an essential oil tray, more on this later in the post.
- Can be difficult to keep clean and maintain.
- Warm mist humidifiers typically use a heating element to create their fine mist. There are more expensive ones on the market that are cool-mist humidifiers.
Do essential oil diffusers add moisture to the air and increase humidity?
Yes, Essential oil diffusers do put moisture in the air but, most essential oil diffusers will only add a small amount of humidity to the room.
An essential oil diffuser's purpose is to disperse a small amount of essential oil into the air by allowing the oil to “ride” the water droplets.
So typically only a small stream of moisture is actually released into the air.
There are a few essential oil diffusers that add moisture to the air in a large enough amount to be thought of as a humidifier. I actually own one of these diffuser humidifier combos and it's the one I use in my girls' bedrooms.
We heat our home with a wood-burning stove so our house can get pretty dry if I'm not running a mix of diffusers and humidifiers.
I find that the Young Living Desert Mist diffuser is just the perfect size diffuser humidifier combo to run in their bedrooms.
The Desert Mist is recommended for use in a 330sq ft room and its output is the perfect amount of humidity for when they are sick and I want them able to breathe in moisture-filled air.
Will a nebulizer diffuser add humidity to my room?
No nebulizing diffusers do not use water to help disperse essential oils so they will not help add humidity to your home. A nebulizer diffuser is a great diffuser to create a strong scent because of the way they release essential oils in the air. They would be the perfect diffuser for someone who already has high humidity in their home and their main concern is getting the benefits of essential oils.
Another great way to add essential oil scents to your room is by using a reed diffuser which also does not add unneeded humidity to a room.
Can you use essential oils in a cool-mist humidifier?
I personally suggest not using essential oils in a cool-mist humidifier because of 2 reasons.
Cool mist humidifiers like the one I use for my family are an investment. They are made to disperse lots of moisture to large areas quickly.
Essential oils are so strong that you risk the chance of the essential oils breaking down the non-hospital grade plastic in your cool mist humidifier causing it to break or not last as long.
Cool mist humidifiers work by pulling water from the bottom of a water tank and then spraying it out.
If you will remember, oil and water don't mix and cool mist humidifiers do not have a way of mixing them.
This means that your essential oils will sit at the top of the humidifier not being dispersed until the water drops to almost empty. If your cool mist humidifier is like mine that would take hours for it to empty out and for you to see any benefits of the essential oils.
What about the humidifiers I see with that have an essential oil tray?
Some humidifiers come with what is called an essential oil tray. This tray is where you place drops of essential oils onto a pad and the essential oil scent is picked up by the mist. I believe that you miss out on the aromatherapy purposes and health benefits of the oils when you use this type of humidifier. But it will allow you to change the room’s aroma slightly.
A great option for this type of humidifier is the Crane Humidifier. It has the best reviews and is an excellent choice for a larger living space that humidity is a factor.
Can you use essential oils in a warm-mist humidifier?
I again, would not suggest using a humidifier with a heating element. The chemical makeup of essential oils is changed with an essential oil is heated. Possibly causing the pure essential oils to lose their therapeutic effects.
My favorite essential oil diffuser and humidifier combo
Like I talked about earlier, there are diffusers on the market that are both a diffuser and a humidifier. This is the way to go especially if you are looking to keep the number of appliances down in your space and adding moisture is important.
Diffuser and humidifier combos will have a larger water well than other diffusers and the output is generally a nice strong mist that will last for a few hours.
My suggestion is to purchase an essential oil diffuser and humidifier combo called the Desert Mist and it is made by Young Living.
I like the Young Living Desert Mist because it's perfect for a bedroom and is super quiet.
The Desert Mist is also my favorite baby humidifier diffuser to use for baby rooms. It keeps the room humidity not overly wet and you can safely use Lavender and other safe essential diffuser blends for babies.
Need ideas for the Best picks for Large water reservoir diffusers for use in large rooms such as living room? Don't worry I have you covered in this Guide for buying the right diffuser for your home.
Can you use an Essential Oil diffuser without Essential Oils?
Another great question is can you use a diffuser as a humidifier?
Yes! If all you need is a little extra humidity for a room, running an essential oil diffuser without including essential oils to the water is perfectly okay.
Of course, a diffuser will not run as long or put as much water in the air as a humidifier but the diffuser adds moisture to the air. Just add enough water to your diffuser and turn it on. I think you will be happy with the humidity it can add to small spaces.
Where can you buy a Desert Mist diffuser?
Don't worry I can totally help you get your hands on this super popular Diffuser! and I can save you money too!
You can get the Desert Mist for FREE when you buy the Young Living premium starter kit. (trust me this is the way to go as you get 11 oils and a diffuser for an amazing Wholesale price.)
You can also buy the Desert Mist at retail price but you will pay about 24% more. (retail link is at the bottom of the linked price page.)
Still not sure about a diffuser and need more in-depth help selecting the best aromatherapy diffuser for your home? plus you want more options for great humidifying diffusers?
I created a post that breaks down the most popular features of the leading essential oil diffusers and it shares our readers top 10 best essential oil diffusers on the market.
Once you get diffusing the right way in your home check out my favorite diffuser blends and recipes. I have 100s of the most popular diffuser recipes that you can download in a quick reference pdf.
Here’s the bottom line …Do essential oil diffusers humidify?
Yes, essential oil diffusers do humidify a room and are great for smaller areas. Although, the amount may not be as much moisture added to the air as you want.
Let's recap- essential oil diffuser and humidifier
the different purposes of essential oil diffusers and humidifiers.
Different types of diffusers release different amounts of your favorite essential oils and water into the air.
Ultrasonic diffusers release tiny particles of water and essential oil into the air. This diffuser uses the most water and will have the greatest effect and is similar to a small humidifier.
Nebulizer diffusers release only essential oils into the air by turning the essential oil into a gas by using a vacuum effect. The therapeutic benefits of the essential oils used are the greatest effect of using this type of diffuser. Nebulizer's can be costly but this Nebulizer is a great value with really good reviews.
Reed diffusers release mostly the scent of essential oils and are great for use in a small room like a bathroom.
A humidifier's main purpose is to raise the relative humidity of a room and the effect will be based on a room's square footage and the amount of mist it can release.
Recommendations for the best humidifiers.
Crane uses Ultrasonic vibrations and is compatible with essential oils.
The best option for cold air/ cold mist humidifier with a large tank and humidity reading controls.