How to Find the Best Essential Oil Diffuser for You

Updated: Oct. 28, 2019

There are hundreds of essential oil diffusers you can choose from that cost anywhere from $10 to $100 or more. We spoke to an expert to guide you through the buying process, so you can choose the right essential oil diffuser for you.

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What is an essential oil diffuser?

Diffusing essential oils, or releasing them through the air, is one of the most popular ways to use essential oils. The diffuser is an electrical device that spreads the essential oil of your choice throughout your room or your house for the time you choose. It creates a very inviting fragrance and is safe—as long as it is being used properly.

The most popular type

Hope Gillerman, an essential oils expert in Los Angeles, CA, and the author of Essential Oils Every Day: Rituals and Remedies for Healing, Happiness, and Beauty recommends using an ultrasonic diffuser. “These come in all price ranges, are easy to clean, and don’t usually break.” This type of diffuser uses electronic frequencies to vibrate quickly—creating an effect like boiling water but without the heat. The vibrations break down the essential oils into tiny microparticles which then disperse into the air as a fine mist.

Prefer a stronger scent?

If you want a stronger fragrance from your oils, you can choose a nebulizing diffuser instead. This type of diffuser vaporizes the oil before releasing it in a mist. “Use a nebulizing diffuser if you like a more intense aroma and especially if you like citrus oils,” says Gillerman. “These can be $100 and up and are very fragile since they are made of glass and take more cleaning to prevent clogging.” Check out these 7 essential oils for a good night’s sleep.

Avoid the heat

With so many different diffusers on the market, it’s easy to get lost when choosing one for your home. “Avoid steam diffusers, candle diffusers, or hot plate diffusers as these heat the oils, disturbing their delicate chemistry,” says Gillerman. “Heat makes your essential oils less effective and ultimately you will have to use more to get results.”

Traits of a good diffuser

Don’t fixate on the cost: You want to make sure your diffuser is easy to clean and has a timer built in that will allow you to release the right amount of oil. The time increments can run for an hour or more, and they can have the option of cycling on for, say, 10 minutes and then cycling off for 10 minutes. “A good diffuser will disperse enough aroma to scent a room in under 30 minutes,” says Gillerman. “After that, you can get overexposed and irritate breathing passages.” Here are 30 genius uses for essential oils in your house.

The truth about car diffusers

Thinking about purchasing a car diffuser? Gillerman advises against it. If you want to enjoy essential oils throughout the day, put them “on your body, not in your car. In your car, they pick up the toxic perfumes called ‘new car smell’ or the off-gas from synthetic materials and increase their harmful effects.”

How much you’ll need to spend

At the end of the day, you have to choose what works best for you and your budget. If you plan on using the diffuser for many years to come, you may want to invest in something sturdy, says Libby Vlasic, a clinical aromatherapist and a certified essential oil educator and faculty member at The New York Institute of Aromatic Studies in New York, New York. She recommends ArOmis. “If you are going to use it regularly, ArOmis is a great investment as it is glass and wood and uses vibration to diffuse the molecules in the essential oils,” she says. “However, if you only plan to use it for a while and can avoid heating elements and plastic materials, a cheaper one will suffice.”

How to use your diffuser

After plugging in the device, you may need to fill the tank with water (some diffusers, like ArOmis, don’t rely on water) and anywhere between 10-15 drops of oil. Set the timer, hit the power button, and enjoy. The instructions for most devices will let you know how long they can run before the tank goes dry. To ease anxiety, try these 7 essential oils.