Humidifier vs. Diffuser – Is a Diffuser a Humidifier?

Humidifiers are basically devices that maintain a set moisture level in a given room. However, they’re often confused with diffusers, with most people assuming that they’re one and the same.

If you have made this mistake too, don’t worry because it happens a lot. While certain devices can combine the functions of the two, humidifiers and diffusers are different products designed for different purposes.

Here’s a look at the difference between humidifiers and diffusers, which to choose and why.

What Is A Diffuser?

While humidifiers are mainly used to control moisture in the air, diffusers allow for the spread of essential oils in your surroundings.

It basically acts as an improved and more elaborate spray to evenly diffuse a single or a blend of aromas to keep a room smelling great.

The main difference between a humidifier and a diffuser is their purpose. A humidifier increases the humidity in the air by spreading water vapor, while a diffuser diffuses essential oils in the air.

Why the need to diffuse oils, you ask?

While some dispute this, essential oils are said to have a lot of benefits for our overall health through aromatherapy, since they are the purest essence of plants. And diffusing makes it easier for the body to absorb all the benefits of the oils.

How Do Diffusers Work?


Types of Diffusers

So how exactly do diffusers work their magic? Well, in a general sense, all diffusers infuse the oils in water vapor. There are five main types of diffusers available in the market today.

1- Reed Diffusers

A reed diffuser is the simplest kind of diffuser because you don’t need heat or electricity to disperse the aroma from essential oils. Reed diffusers work by simply placing reeds inside a small glass bottle or jar which contains essential oils. The reeds absorb the oils and allow them to travel through air naturally. However, this dispersion is not enough if you need to diffuse oils in a bigger space.

2- Heat Diffusers

A heat diffuser has more capacity than a reed diffuser and is also cost-efficient. It works by heating essential oils to let them evaporate into the air. Examples of these are candle heat diffusers, lamp rings, and even electric ones. Heat diffusers are more commonly used for thicker essential oils like Rose, Coffee, and Sandalwood.

The problem is using heat diffusers – particularly heat diffusers that work with candle – will always be a fire hazard. Some aromatherapy enthusiasts are also not a fan of heat diffusers because they believe that heat actually causes some form of chemical reaction to the oils, which often results in a weaker aroma.

3- Evaporative Diffusers

While heat diffusers also technically evaporate oil into the air, these diffusers are different from evaporative diffusers. The reason behind this is that evaporative diffusers do not use any form of heat to disperse oils.

Rather, these products generate wind through a fan to allow the good stuff to scatter into the air. You only need a few drops of essential oils to a pad, a wick, or even water to allow the wind to evaporate the oils in a more controlled way.

4- Nebulizer Diffusers

Nebulizer diffusers are believed to be capable of dispersing the purest form of essential oils into the air by breaking them down at a molecular level before scattering them in the surroundings.

Nebulizers don’t need heat, water, or additional water in order to diffuse oils. It can be compared to using a perfume atomizer, with a small pump that directs air across a tube, which in turn creates a vacuum that forces oils to spread. This means that the mist created by the nebulizer is purely made out of the essential oils themselves, making it one of the best kinds of diffusers.

5- Ultrasonic Diffusers

The ultrasonic diffuser edges out the nebulizers simply because this is a hybrid device that can act as both a diffuser and a humidifier. Plus, instead of an air pump, an ultrasonic diffuser uses electricity and ultrasonic vibration to break the oils into tiny molecules.

However, unlike the nebulizers that can purely emit oils, ultrasonic diffusers also release moisture along with the oils making it a great device for humidifying the air and diffusing oils into your room. Despite using electricity, ultrasonic diffusers still do not use heat to disperse essential oils, which means the integrity of your oils will not be changed.

Benefits Of Having A Diffuser In Your Home

Diffusers offer many benefits and have become one of the most popular devices in homes today. Some of their advantages include:

  • Relieving stress
  • Improving sleep
  • Killing bacteria and preventing mold buildup
  • Leaving room smelling clean and fresh
  • Acting as a natural mosquito repellent
  • Dispersing all-natural scents
  • Improving overall health 

When Should You Choose A Diffuser Over A Humidifier? 

Humidifier vs diffuser

Now that you know the difference between a humidifier and a diffuser, here’s a look at when to choose either one. 

Buy a humidifier only if you are sure that your room or your home lacks moisture, which can seriously affect your health. To learn if you indeed have dry air in your space, you can purchase a separate humidity reader. 

Buy a non-ultrasonic diffuser if you are certain that there is sufficient moisture in your air and you are bent on reaping the benefits of inhaling essential oils. You may choose just one oil to diffuse or you may mx several types of essential oils because these do vary in aroma and in effect. Picking the right essential oil product is also necessary to be able to fully utilize your diffuser the way it’s supposed to be.

Lastly, you may opt to buy an ultrasonic diffuser if you both need to deal with air moisture problems and are into aromatherapy. Buying this hybrid product is clearly unnecessary and probably detrimental if you already have high humidity in your area or at home. Therefore, the first thing you must learn before buying any of these products is the humidity of the air around you. Who knows? You might actually need a dehumidifier instead.

The Bottom Line

Humidifiers and diffusers are two useful products to have in a home, but which you choose depends on your specific needs. If you’re looking only to humidify your room or home, opt for a humidifier. However, if you want the benefits of aromatherapy, choose a diffuser.

To learn about the best humidifiers on the market, check out our detailed reviews. If you’ve decided that you want a humidifier, here’s a step by step guide on how to buy a diffuser.

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