How to Choose the Best Diffuser for Essential Oils

This article is to provide you with ideas for choosing the best essential oil diffuser for you using essential oils. With all of the websites discussing them, I have found those sites not to be totally honest. We explore and scrutinize every product type of diffuser, differences, and discuss those here.

If you only want the sweet smells from the oils, diffusers will do that. They also provide therapeutic benefits when you select the oils to do just that. Maybe you simply want to relax. Put lavender in your diffuser and you will soon be feeling calm. There is no actual mystery to finding a diffuser. Just read below and it will be explained.

Being knowledgeable helps you make the right choice. You will be informed with data and information, pictures, and graphics to help you better understand. This will help you save money and time by us doing the research.

Two Diffuser Types Compared

1. Ultrasonic

Ultrasonic Essential Oils Diffuser

For aromatherapy, an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser is the best for providing therapeutic benefits and heady fragrances. The ultrasonic process breaks up the essential oils into particles on a microscopic scale that the diffuser nozzle puts into the air.

The unit produces negative ions that are responsible for uplifting moods to relieve stress and anxiety. The mist will remain in the room for several hours when you set the timer. To compare with the nebulizer diffuser, it uses a cool-mist as do ultrasonic units. Nebulizers use more oils and do not provide as many benefits since the oils lose some of their potency if heated.

2. Nebulizer

Nebulizer Diffuser - Night Mode

The nebulizer works similar to a perfume bottle with an atomizer for spraying. Since a nebulizer forms tiny drops, it is thought to be a better unit for therapeutic benefits from the essential oils. They are powerful units and saturate the air quickly with oils.

They operate at a high sound vibration and do use oils quicker than other diffuser types. Use a timer to run it for about 15-minutes to an hour. This helps to save oils yet gives your nose time to process the oils before taking in more. Some of the more advanced units have settings to control the time and airflow.

On the other hand, ultrasonic or humidifying diffusers create a fine mist as well. The process for doing this is that the ultrasonic diffuser uses electronic frequencies within the unit where a small disk under the water vibrates at a fast rate of speed. This breaks the oil’s components into micro particles producing a fine mist and they are easier to accept by the lungs for a superb therapeutic result.

Nebulizer diffusers are available in two types—‘cool mist’ and ‘ultrasonic.’ The cool-mist units use only air pressure to mist the essential oils into the air. They put out the highest concentration of the essential oils. You add the best essential oils to the water in the tank and then the water evaporates. The cool-mist and ultrasonic both have control features for setting the time to run, the misting level of low, medium, or high to conserve your oils, when on low. Both the nebulizer and ultrasonic are very quiet when running.

Nebulizing Diffusers or Ultrasonic Diffusers?

You might be wondering what is the difference between these two and that’s only one thing.

  • Nebulizer diffusers do not use water
  • Ultrasonic diffusers do use water

With an ultrasonic diffuser, you fill the base with the recommended amount of water by the manufacturer, then add essential oil drops in the suggested amount, or what you like best.

With the nebulizer unit, you put pure 100% essential oils into the supplied bottle attached to the device and turn the unit on. Personally, I like this unit best, but everyone is different.

We conducted a survey recently entitled, What Features to Look for When Choosing a Diffuser. We asked 880 of our readers to choose the features they like the best for what’s important when they buy an essential oil diffuser for themselves or as gifts.

Nebulizer vs Ultrasonic Diffuser – Which is better?

The chart shows that 50% of all the users like the ultrasonic diffuser that uses water. They want the moisture and humidity for healthful benefits. Oils are added on top of the water, and voila! —turn it on and there you go. The ultrasonic is a 5-in-1 unit being a diffuser, a small humidifier, an ionizer because it uses water, a good thing to uplift your mood, an air purifier, and a night light.

The nebulizer diffuser uses only 100% pure essential oils adding no water. Some do have night lights, but no added humidity because there is no water, but having a stronger fragrant mist. The unit uses a small bottle about the size of any essential oil bottle, you fill up the unit’s bottle, screw it to the top, and turn it on.

Bottom line: If cost is no problem, a nebulizer is a better choice using no water to dilute the essential oils. On the flip side, an ultrasonic diffuser using water adds moisture to your dry air. Read more about diffusers reviewed below to make your buying choice be exactly what you want.

Features to Look for Choosing the Right Diffuser

When you are shopping for one or more diffusers, you might be new to it and not know what to look for. People using diffusers for a long time pretty much know what is best for them. Hopefully, these hints will give you some ideas when looking at diffusers in the marketplace.

Each brand of essential oil diffuser has different features. Some features are similar while others are different. Remember this is a discussion about diffuser features, not what each brand will do. If you want to use many citrus oils, be sure to find a diffuser that does that. Not all diffusers use citrus such as grapefruit, orange, and lemon.

Attractiveness and Appeal

Best Ultrasonic Diffusers

Ultrasonic Diffusers

Best Nebulizer Diffusers

Nebulizer Diffusers

The first thing most of us look at is how pretty and colorful a diffuser is. We check the shape and then we look for the features we like most. We might want something charming, sophisticated, simple, glamorous, complex, or whimsical. We might want animal or train shapes for our kids. Diffusers add flair to your home or business décor. They are trendy and some are contemporary with shapes such as candles, rocks, pyramids, vases, and some are freeform. Please read on.

Where to use Diffusers

Nearly everyone wants a diffuser everywhere today. We are passionate about our essential oil diffusers for aromatherapy and therapeutic benefits. They can be placed in your home in every room, in the children’s rooms, in the bathroom, kitchen, and basement. Many want diffusers at their office desk. Professional offices want them in their waiting area and some dentists have them in the patient’s area. Hotel lobbies keep them around and some are portable to take with you in your hotel room.

Water Capacity

Do you want it to hold lots of water such as 500 mL (16 ounces) or 80 mL (2.7 ounces) or less or even more? Does it matter? Do you want to refill it several times a day or have it run all night? Water capacity is something you will want to consider. The greater the amount of water the unit uses the longer the mist will run. And, of course, less water means less misting time.

Water Type

Most diffuser manufacturers tell you to use tap water at the sink. Well, if you want mineral build-up and lime scale, you will have more cleaning to do with your diffuser. A gallon of distilled water is only about $1 at most stores and is well worth the cost to use it only. Your diffuser will function better and longer if you use distilled, purified, or soft water. What will clog your diffuser are thick oils with resins. They can clog the openings where the mist comes out.

Diffuser Materials

BPA-free Ultrasonic Diffuser

BPA-free Ultrasonic Diffuser

Plastic—Some manufacturers use plastic only for water tanks. Some use plastic for the entire body and tank of the diffuser. We now want no toxins in our plastics known as BPA-free (Bisphenol A). BPA is a synthetic compound and is toxic. Check for the BPA-free label or words when searching for diffusers. Polypropylene (PP) is a thermoplastic polymer used from everything from car parts to carpeting. The PP, PU (Polyurethane), and PUR (Polyurethane) are hard, tough, strong, thick, and durable plastics that are heat resistant. They are not ‘bad’ plastics. Using BPA-free plastics means that when you are using essential oils in your diffuser you will not have chemicals leaching into your oils.

Ceramics Ultrasonic Diffuser

Ceramics Ultrasonic Diffuser

Ceramics—are made from the dirt of the earth and are not harmful. We use ceramic (terra cotta) cookware, dinnerware, and many other ceramic products daily. Diffusers made from ceramic are not harmful, are beautiful, and earthy.

Glass Ultrasonic Diffuser

Glass Ultrasonic Diffuser

Glass—is made from the sand of the earth and the best glass comes from sand in Kokomo, Indiana. Founded in 1888, Kokomo is the place for American art glass. When you use diffusers made of glass, not only are they beautiful and artfully shaped for your home, they will not be toxic in any way.

Stainless-Steel Essential Oil Diffuser

Stainless-Steel Essential Oil Diffuser

Stainless-Steel—diffusers are high quality and the material is tough and sturdy. We use stainless-steel in our cookware and bakeware and it’s the perfect solution for wonderful things. Stainless-steel is made from the basic elements in the earth: iron ore, chromium, silicon, and nickel. No health problems will be found using stainless-steel.

Real Bamboo Essential Oil Diffuser

Real Bamboo Essential Oil Diffuser

Wood—many diffusers are made of another earthy material, wood. They too are great diffusers to have around and use for their beauty and functionality.

Diffuser Size, Weight, and Stability

Size matters. Will it fit on the dresser, the night stand, the fireplace mantel, the desk at the office, the seating area at the doctor’s office—and many more places people use their diffusers. Do you want round or thin? Square or bulky? Do you want a remote-control unit or can you live without it? Each brand will show you this information. If you want to take your diffuser with you in your satchel or purse, then a smaller more compact unit will be the best for you.

Diffusers come in different weights from small at about 6-ounces to 1.5-pounds without water. They provide rubber feet to offer stability eliminating slipping and falling over making a watery mess everywhere. Most have silicone feet or a rubberized bottom.

Misting Area

You can select diffusers to mist an area of 50- to 1000-square feet. From the size of a bathroom to the entire open living area, you will find a unit for your space. So for large or small rooms, select the diffusers having the range of coverage for your needs. It’s possible you will need more than one unit. They are affordable and last a long time with proper care.

Misting Time

It is convenient to have the diffuser run for a long time so that you can forget about it. But then maybe you don’t want it to run all day or night. If you want it to run only to remove dinner odors, then maybe, you only need a unit that runs for 3-hours and shuts off. Speaking of shutting off, some units shut off automatically and some do not.

Read further for discussing the shutting off features and functionality for diffusers. Some 100% essential oil diffusers can operate for 10-hours and more. Each brand has its specific timer settings. The more oils you use with the mist mode set on high, the shorter amount of time it will run and the more oil will be used.

Some diffusers use settings to include interval misting every 20- or 30-seconds, so the oil diffuser mists in surges. If you do not want to run the diffuser until the water tank is empty, you can choose to run a larger-capacity diffuser for 30-, 60-, or 180-minutes and it shuts off automatically after the timer stops.

Airflow Output

This feature would let you vary the air pressure for scattering the essential oil mist. It is comparable to how fast you operate a fan. It is the speed setting of low, medium, or high on the diffuser.

LED Lights

Some of us like lights and some of us do not want lights. Most units have a light display that is magnificent cascading from one color to another—the entire rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (ROY G BIV helps me remember).

Lights are pretty, calming, and cool to look at. Lights do not offer any health benefits, unless you simply want to feel relaxed from them. Some lights rotate blending into one another to have double the lights.

Some diffusers let you run the essential oil mist with or without lights, and some stay on one color only. Lights can be used for night lights for the kids or yourself. Some brands provide lights that have dimming and brightening capabilities. Diffusers also are available with no lights except a tiny light at the on/off switch and some people like this.

Noise Level

Some diffusers are whisper-quiet and some are a bit noisier. Many sound similar to a trickling waterfall that can be soothing and calming, yet others find even that slight sound to be disturbing. Search brands to find the one suitable for your hearing preference that will not be earsplitting to you.

Most diffuser’s sound will allow for conversations, movie watching, and reading. Make sure it’s not so close to you to be disturbing. Many users sleep with them close to their head on nightstands at night.

Automatic Shut Off

You want to be safe when using a diffuser for the baby’s nursery and kid’s room. In fact, you want to sleep 8-hours without having to worry about the unit burning up. On the other hand, you might only want to use it a few hours and turn it off yourself. Both types are available.

Almost all diffusers today come with an automatic shut-off feature. When the unit runs out of water in the tank, it shuts down. This is a great feature for safety. When you are occupied with other things, you need have no concerns with this function.


There are units that run on electricity and others that run by battery only. Some brands are made for USA only voltage of 110/120-Volts, 50/60 Hz. Other brands accommodate buyers using them outside the USA in Europe or other countries that use 220/240-Volts.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Cleaning a diffuser is quick and easy. Try a little liquid dish detergent in warm water using a cotton swab for the nooks and crannies. Rinse with cool water and towel dry. Paper towels stick and leave pieces, so a cloth towel is best. If you have sticky oil gunk, use one-fourth cup of clear distilled vinegar alone and let the diffuser run 15-minutes.

Empty the vinegar and rinse with cool water. To remove the vinegar smell let it run a few times with distilled water. Or, you can use rubbing alcohol rather than vinegar.

Warranties and User’s Guides

Check for the length of the Warranty when you search for diffusers. Most manufacturers offer a 1-year Warranty and others guarantee their product for 6-months. Other diffuser sellers offer less time for their guarantees and warranties. Most will stand behind a diffuser with defects in workmanship or if you are dissatisfied. The diffuser box usually has instructions. If not, the website will have a download for the items.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has been helpful for you to know the two most popular types of diffusers for your buying consideration. The best ones are the ultrasonic and nebulizer units and the aromatherapy experience you will love.

Add essential oils for therapeutic benefits while enjoying the heady fragrance. Your family will enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the essential oils in the diffuser and if you have a business, your customers will appreciate it too.

How to Choose the Best Diffuser for Essential Oils
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