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How To Choose An Aromatherapy Diffuser

An aromatherapy diffuser is any device that disperses the scent of essential oils into the air. The type of essential oil diffuser you choose will depend on how you plan to use it, what effects you want to achieve, and your budget.

For example, some diffusers produce a stronger dispersion that's effective in a large area, while others are best suited for small spaces. Some diffusers use heat, but some sources believe that heat may change certain components of essential oils, reducing their therapeutic benefit. The cost ranges from less than $10 to several hundred dollars.

This article covers:

Aromatherapy Nebulizer or Atomizer

A nebulizing diffuser, also called an aromatherapy nebulizer or sometimes an atomizing diffuser, pumps air through a chamber filled with essential oils. A nebulizer or atomizer uses no heat and no water, and converts the essential oil into microscopic droplets that stay in the air for a long time.

Nebulizers or atomizers produce the strongest aroma and effectively distribute essential oils into the air while maintaining their therapeutic properties. These essential oil diffusers are the best choice for therapeutic purposes because the diffusion process releases small particles that your lungs and body can absorb rapidly. These diffusers are also usually the most expensive option.

Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Diffusers

Cold air diffusers atomize a mixture of cold water and essential oils, breaking up molecules into a microscopic mist. Many cold air diffusers use ultrasonic technology to create a high frequency that atomizes the water and oils. These aromatherapy machines also maintain the therapeutic value of essential oils. Here are two ultrasonic diffuser options:

Aromatherapy Vaporizer

Aromatherapy vaporizer is a nebulous term that's applied to a variety of devices (including ones that diffuse the scent of herbs). Some types of vaporizers use water (and might be called a vaporizer/humidifier) and some don't. 

Some types of vaporizers use heat, and some don't. You might also find ultrasonic diffusers referred to aromatherapy vaporizers.

Aromatherapy Oil Burners or Warmers

Aromatherapy oil burners or oil warmers use either candles or electricity to create heat that sends the scent of essential oils into the air. Just remember that some sources believe heating essential oils diminishes their therapeutic properties.

Candle diffusers are popular and can add ambience to a room. Here are some examples:

Electric oil burners offer the safety advantage of no flame and also come in many decorative types, such as:

Green Electric Aromatherapy Oil Warmer
Electric Aromatherapy Oil Burner

A similar aromatherapy diffuser is a lamp ring. The ring, which might be metal, ceramic, or terra cotta, has a grooved lip that sits directly onto a light bulb. The lip holds essential oil, and the heat from the light bulb heats the oil, dispersing it into the room. 

Fan Diffusers

A fan diffuser is efficient and easy-to-use. A small fan blows air through a pad containing essential oils. Fan diffusers are usually low cost and lightweight, making them useful for travel. They don't use a lot of essential oil. The aroma has limited reach, so this type of essential oil diffuser is best suited to small spaces. 

Terra Cotta Diffusers

Terra cotta diffusers come in the form of aromatherapy pendants you can wear, as well as in the form of tabletop terra cotta pieces. The porous surface of terra cotta releases the scent of essential oil into the air.

See a selection of terra cotta pendants.

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