Types of Essential Oil Diffusers

by Joel Rubin June 18, 2015

Essential Oil diffusers are available in many shapes, sizes, colors – and types. Diffusers are popular for dispersing the scent of a specific essential for a health ailment, to create a better atmosphere (spa, party, or office), or to set the mood for a romantic evening or celebration. It is important to understand how an aromatherapy diffuser works before using it. Here's a quick look of some of the types of diffusers available.


How Essential Oil Diffusers Work

Essential oil diffusers work by inhalation. A few drops of an essential oil, or an aromatherapy blend, are added to the diffuser and, depending upon the type of diffuser, it will disperse the aroma into the atmosphere in a certain way. You don't need to add a lot of essential oils to experience a better atmosphere.


Traditional Essential Oil Diffusers

Candle aromatherapy diffusers were the traditional type of diffuser before electric diffusers became popular. Candle aromatherapy diffusers are simply made. Often made from a ceramic body with a holding tray at the top and a space for a tea light size candle underneath, candle essential oil diffusers require just the addition of water and oils to work. Fill the tray with a small amount of water, add a few drops of essential oils, and light the candle beneath; the heat from the candle will help to disperse the aroma around the room.

However, candle diffusers have a couple of drawbacks; if the tray runs “dry” the essential oils will burn. In addition, it is believed by some that the therapeutic properties of the essential oil are lost when they are heated up with the flame.


Modern Essential Oil Diffusers

Modern essential oil diffusers are usually some version of an electric aromatherapy diffuser. The essential oils or aromatherapy blend are placed inside of a glass container or vial. An electric diffuser pushes the essential oil molecules out at the same time. Some electric diffusers may have special technology which increases their resistance to mold and corrosion.

Nebulizing aromatherapy diffusers force air into the essential oils through an air pump. Through means of a nebulizer, the essential oil droplets are micro-sized when they are released into the atmosphere. These types of essential oil diffusers are suitable for respiratory problems.

As modern day technology advances, so does the means of dispersing essential oils; you can use a plug-in diffuser for your car to enjoy aromatherapy on-the-go, or purchase a specialized USB diffuser to plug-in to your laptop computer.

It is important to consult the manufacturer's guidelines in all cases, as methods of operation may vary.


Cautions for Using Essential Oil Diffusers

Before using an essential oil diffuser, bear in mind where you intend to diffuse it, and any cautions that you should be aware of; for example, don't diffuse around vulnerable groups (pets, babies, children, pregnant women, the elderly, or someone with a specific health condition). And always remember to ask before diffusing in a shared space; some people may be sensitive to particular aromas.


Question: What type of essential oil diffuser do you like to use?



  • Falsetto, Sharon, 2014, Authentic Aromatherapy, US: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Price Shirley, Price Len, 2012, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, UK: Churchill Livingstone
  • Worwood, Valerie, 1991, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, USA: New World Library

Joel Rubin
Joel Rubin


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