So, do essential oil diffusers really work?
There are many different types of essential oil diffusers dispersing aroma into the air. Here is a review of the varieties:
Cool Mist Diffusers
Cool mist essential oil diffusers, also called ultrasonic diffusers, typically involve adding about 5 ounces of water and a few drops of essential oil to a plug in unit that emits a micro-fine aromatic mist. These are very easy to use, affordable, and can fill a large room with pleasant aroma. The essential oils are not heated, thus protecting their therapeutic properties. Essential oils such as rosemary, peppermint, and cinnamon can be diffused to improve air quality, offering an antiseptic, antimicrobial action. While some essential oils boost energy such as the citrus aromas, other essential oils can have a calming effect, like lavender and chamomile. Look for a cool mist diffuser without parts in the water compartment, such as a fan, that can get worn and clogged over time.
Nebulizing essential oil diffusers require no water or heat, and involve dropping a small amount of essential oil into a glass blown tube leading to a small glass reservoir. The electric unit creates air pressurization that causes tiny essential oil particles to rise up and into the air. The spread of aroma is quick and effective, and the unit is typically only turned on for five minute intervals. It is a step up from the cool mist diffuser, but typically costs five times higher. Keep in mind to only add about 20 drops at a time into the diffuser, as this amount will last for several days and keeping essential oil in the reservoir for too long will cause oxidation and a lesser aromatic and therapeutic quality.
Potpourri diffusion involves sprinkling a few drops of essential oil onto wood, pine cones, and other dried plant parts. This can offer a beautiful appearance along with a pleasing aroma. Try placing a few drops of cinnamon essential oil on some pine cones in a dish. Or, if there is no chance of you roasting those chestnuts, sprinkle some peppermint on them instead. Potpourri can be mildly aromatic for months. Keep in mind, the essential oils will not be as strong and lasting as fragrance oils, but essential oils offer more healthful benefits.
Cold air fan essential oil diffusers are units with a fan that blows air onto a cotton pad. A few drops of essential oil are placed on the pad, and the fan helps disperse the aroma into the air. These units are cheap, but effective. Typically, they are not as attractive to look at, but they get the job done. Plus, if you like to change out aromas frequently, you can easily place a few drops of essential oil onto a new cotton pad.
Wax melts diffuse aroma using heat to melt scented wax. Often, wax melts are made with fragrance oils instead of true essential oils. Essential oil wax squares can easily be made to replace fragrance squares. Simply melt wax, and add a few drops of essential oil. The aroma will not be nearly as strong as a fragrance oil, but can still be very enjoyable. Wax melt units are affordable, attractive, but a pain to clean, and offer lower aromatic quality.
Candle Lit Diffusion
Candle heat diffusers usually include a candlelight sized candle with a dish above the flame. Essential oil with water is added to the dish and as it heats up, it spreads aroma throughout the room. These units can add an ambiance to a space, but like wax melts, offer a lower aromatic quality.
Do essential oil diffusers really work? They sure do! Pick which style is best for you. Mix it up and try different types. I have used all versions at home and in the office. Realize that some aromas may smell awesome to you, but could be offensive to others. With children and pets, a very small amount of aroma can seem too strong. Less is more, follow unit instructions and essential oil safe use guidelines and do not over-scent a room.
By: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, RA (ARC), Professional NAHA and AIA Member, LMT