What's the Difference Between a Diffuser and a Humidifier?

Can a diffuser do everything a humidifier can do?

What about vice versa?

Great questions. We’ll answer them for you in this article.

What is a Diffuser?

Diffusion is the process of dispersing particles and allowing them to naturally spread out from high concentration to low concentration. Boring…

That’s code for: it makes essential oils spread throughout the air.

This allows you to smell the aroma of your essential oils throughout your home or office.

How Does a Diffuser Work?

There are quite a few different types of diffusers. The top 5 are:

  1. Ultrasonic
  2. Heat
  3. Evaporative
  4. Nebulizing
  5. Humidifying

The best diffuser in our humble opinion is the ultrasonic diffuser.

Why? Because of how it works.

An ultrasonic diffuser does not use heat. By using ultrasonic waves to create vibrations, the ultrasonic diffuser turns essential oil into a fine mist.

This fine mist is made up of tiny microparticles which are more easily absorbed by the lungs.

Diffusion is a fan favorite for aromatherapy practitioners to enjoy essential oils.

What is a Humidifier?

A humidifier emits water vapor within a particular space to increase humidity levels.

Dry air can cause many issues, including nose bleeds, sinus congestion, and respiratory problems.

Having a humidifier can be particularly useful in cold areas where heaters are commonly used such as Chicago. The reason being that heaters cause additional dryness.

What’s the Difference Between a Diffuser and a Humidifier?

Diffusers tend to be smaller devices with less water. They are specifically designed for essential oils, and they are usually easy to clean.

Humidifiers tend to be larger devices with more water. They are specifically designed to create moisture, and they are usually not designed for essential oils.

Can I Use Essential Oils in My Humidifier?

We don’t recommend adding essential oils to a regular humidifier because:

1. Essential Oils are Strong

Since essential oils are highly concentrated extracts, using them in your humidifier is a risk.

The quality of plastic within most humidifiers is not designed to handle the strength of essential oils.

2. Humidifiers Function Differently

Most humidifiers function by pulling water from the bottom and dispersing it at the top.

Oil and water don’t mix, so a regular humidifier will not disperse your essential oils properly.

Can I Use a Diffuser Instead of a Humidifier?

The larger the diffuser, the more likely it will be to fill the air with moisture.

However, we cannot recommend using a diffuser as an actual alternative.

Why? Because most diffusers don’t put enough moisture into the air to be effective alternatives.

Because of how diffusers work, only a small stream of moisture gets released into the air unless it’s a larger sized diffuser.


Both humidifiers and diffusers send moisture into the air, but the level of moisture that is provided can be significantly different. Diffusers are designed to send essential oils along with a little bit of moisture into the air while humidifiers are designed specifically to create moisture in the air.

Got a question? Let us know in the comments below!

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