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Diffuser vs Humidifier – What’s the Difference?

Why you should know the diffuser and Humidifier difference

There are several problems associated with having really low humidity in the air, whether in cold or any other season, and most of round up to a single fact, which is a higher chance of getting infected. Low humidity is basically a home for various infection-causing organisms, hence increasing the chance of getting people in the home infected; however, the humidifiers and diffusers were developed as humanity’s answer to this problem.


Though they mostly have the same mode of operation, as well as desired outcomes, most people seem to mistake one for the other, leading to the general assumption of the two devices being the same. However, they are not. Diffusers and humidifiers differ in minute detail, precisely in their compatibility with essential oils.

A humidifier does the primary job of breaking water into mist and releasing them to the atmosphere, and as a result, increasing the moisture content of the air. The diffusers, on the other hand, are primarily used for diffusing essential oils in the air for aromatherapy purposes. Though some humidifiers have a small chamber for a few drops of essential oil, the oil is only in minute quantity and cannot be mixed with water in their tanks like the diffusers.

Also Read: Whole House steam Humidifier Reviews

Should you use a humidifier or a diffuser?

The question of picking between a humidifier and diffuser solely depends on you specific aim in purchasing a product.

If you primarily want something that can grab low moisture by the neck and kick it out the window, then a humidifier is your best shot at doing that, because a diffuser cannot effectively increase humidity. However, for purely soothing and maximizing the medicinal value of essential oils, we recommend you purchase a diffuser.

Should you use a humidifier like a diffuser?

Taking a closer look, they can each do a bit of what the other does, like the humidifier having an aromatherapy chamber for using essential oils, and some diffusers needing the essential oil to be mixed with water, which evaporates with the oil in the process too.

Each one is, however, only efficient in one of the two functions. Picking the best for you simply depends on what your immediate need is. For primarily low moisture problems, do well to grab a humidifier, and for essential oil aromatherapy, get a diffuser.

You should know, however, that though they can be interchanged, they cannot adequately substitute for each other, therefore using a humidifier as a diffuser would get that little bit of essential oil into the air, but not nearly enough as a proper diffuser. We would recommend you purchase a diffuser instead of using a humidifier to substitute one.

What are the diffusers and their types?

Diffusers exist for one task and that alone, which is to evaporate and release essential oils into the air. Although there are several types, which achieves the same endpoints, but through different means.

The types of diffusers are; ultrasonic diffuser, evaporative or electric heat diffuser, nebulizing diffuser, reed diffuser, fan-style diffuser, candle diffusers, and terracotta diffusers.

  • Ultrasonic diffusers:

This type makes uses of the principle of ultrasonic humidifiers, which breaks down a solution of water that has been previously mixed with the desired amount of essential oils into a fine mist, and releases it into the atmosphere.

They mostly come with several automated features like the timer, auto shutoff, and auto mode, also being able to last really long.

  • Evaporative/ electric heat diffusers:

The device makes use of electricity to heat up essential oil poured into a small cup, warming the oil and, as a result, spreads the scent around the room. They are very easy to clean, which is done with mild soap and water, and also easy to refill

  • Nebulizing diffuser:

With this diffuser, the effect of essential oils would be efficiently felt in the atmosphere within a short period of time. It works by breaking down the oil into separate molecules which are dispersed easily throughout the environs. Cleaning this device, though it could be really stressful and time-consuming, depending on their sizes.

  • Reed diffuser:

This type works by merely placing wooden sticks or reeds into a bottle of the desired essential oil. The reed absorbs the oil from the bottom, and then it travels to through till the top, eventually entering the atmosphere as a soothing smell.

They can run as long as oil is present in the bottle, and does not produce mist, therefore requiring the least amount of maintenance compared to others.

  • Fan-style diffusers:

Unlike some other types, this device does not use water, but instead, the oil is placed in a fan diffuser unit or absorbent pad, with the fan gently blowing across to disperse the scent throughout the room.

They are easy to clean and have an excellent runtime depending on the availability of essential oil, as well as the size of the pad used.

  • Candle diffusers:

The candle diffusers operates very similarly to the electric type, except that the heat source is from candlelight rather than electricity.

This flame heats up the oil, which then diffuses the scent into the room. They are very fancy and comes in different styles, though in need of frequent monitoring in order to replace the candle as soon as it runs out.

  • Terracotta diffusers:

These are beautifully designed clay pots, which are completely closed at the top, to keep tightly within. Over time, the oil gets to permeate the clay pot, and consequentially, their smell slowly spreading around the room.

Using this device is very slow to get the desired scent into the air, though once it kicks in, the smell follows strongly, but fades over time. Cleaning has to be done carefully due to it being a clay pot, and especially when you intend using a different essential oil from the last one.

Also Read: Best Humidifiers with UV light

Pros and cons of diffusers

There are several benefits as well as disadvantages to using diffusers. They are;

What we like:

  • Improves respiratory health:

Essential oils used in diffusers have been proven to have beneficial values in respiratory health, alleviating common symptoms like inflammation in the respiratory tracts, as well as reducing the impact of colds and coughs.

  • Removes odor:

the smell of essential oils are very pleasant to the nostrils of man, adding a sweet fragrance to the air, as well as removing common dry, stuffy odors associated with homes.

  • Acts as insect impeller:

Most household common insects cannot stand the aroma of diffused essential oils, and it has even been known to be fatal to many, including mosquitoes, gnats, and others.

  • Boost the immune system:

some of the health benefits of using diffusers includes the antibacterial and antiviral effects they come with when inhaled into the body.

  • Gives relieves:

some medical professionals recommend using diffusers for already infected individuals, as people with cough, for example. Inhaling diffused essential oil is sure to relieve the nasal passages, hence helping one cope with the drips.

  • Saves money:

cash that would have been otherwise spent on antiviral or bug repelling products could be spared when using a diffuser with the proper oils. Its health benefits also prevent contaminations that would have probably had you running to the doctor, hence spending a few or truckload of cash in the process.

What we dont Like

  • Allergy problems:

Though a diffuser cannot primarily cause allergic reactions, there is no guarantee on the oils used. Diffident individuals could have different reactions to a particular type of oil. Therefore it is necessary to look up your reaction to the oil before the purchase in order to avoid complications.

  • Asthmatic reactions:

when diffusers are used to a certain extent, it could become asthma triggers to patients, due to the body having adverse reactions to compounds in the air.

  • Skin irritation:

using diffusers in excess quantity over time would accumulate on the skin, and depending on the person in question, it could cause skin irritations.

  • Not suitable for pregnant women:

The potential effects of using diffusers when carrying a baby is quite broad, starting from affecting the skin of the mother and baby. In essence, ensure you see a medical professional should you intend using a diffuser.

What are humidifiers and their types?

Humidifiers are devices that exist for the fundamental purpose of getting mist into the air in order to increase its relative humidity.

It exists primarily for that purpose, unlike the diffuser, which disperses essential oils. There are several types of humidifiers today, with the significant difference being in how they get the job done; they are; central humidifiers, evaporators, impeller humidifiers, ultrasonic humidifiers, steam vaporizers.

  • Central humidifiers:

This type of product is installed directly into the homes HVAC system, which could be an air conditioning or heating unit. They are the most expensive types of products to add humidity to the home, as well as being the most effective, though they pose a risk of burns from producing excessive steam.

  • Evaporators:

Just like the name implies, they heat water up till evaporation, and then blows the vapor (or moisture) through a filter, expelling it into the air to increase humidity. They produce a very high amount of moisture, and also raises the tendency of mold growth around the home, as well as requiring a high amount of cleaning themselves.

  • Impellers humidifiers:

They work by making use of rotating discs that spin at very high speeds, breaking water into mist and also releasing them into the atmosphere. The mist output of this type is always cool, posing a zero harm risk, makes them friendly around kids and pets.

  • Steam vaporizers:

This type is electrically powered, heating water and allowing it to cool to an extent depending on its design, then releasing the mist into the air. They are pretty cheap and portable but could cause skin burns when misused.

  • Ultrasonic humidifiers:

ultrasonic product makes use of vibrations, which breaks down water into very tiny droplets called mists, and then blows it out into the atmosphere. They vary in price, depending on their size, and are available in both the cool and warm mist option.

Pros and cons of humidifiers

The pros and cons to using a humidifier are;

What we like

  • Heath benefits:

The health benefits of a humidifier literally cannot be quantified, as it is able to prevent you from known and unknown possible infections by eradicating low moisture from the environs.

  • Suitable for furniture:

low level of moisture has adverse effects on furniture in the home, causing them to crack and become brittle in no time. Using a humidifier, however, increase their life span.

  • Increases overall comfort:

From the problem of static electricity plaguing clothing as well as the hair, to dry nose and blocked nostrils, the symptoms which have a humidifier alleviates are endless and is sure to increase the overall comfort of people in the home.

What we dislike

  • Requires frequent maintenance:

part of the discomforts of owning and running a humidifier is the frequent amount of attention it requires in maintenance. it is essential you clean the tank as well as other parts of the units to avoid mold buildup, as well as also change the filter if it has one.

  • Contaminations:

Though using a humidifier could be very beneficial, it could become even more harmful when not maintained in the best possible manner. Running a dirty and contaminated humidifier is very harmful to the body, especially when this mist is inhaled deep into the lungs.

  • Noise:

Clearing the air once and for all, all humidifiers produce a certain level of noise, and as a result, it becomes a question of the one with the most tolerable amount to a man. The noise could be irritating to light sleepers, as well as to cause an abysmal overall user experience

  • Over humidification/ condensation problem:

when not appropriately set, the device can increase the amount of moisture to an unsafe level, causing mold and bacteria to grow in areas around the home. This is basically materializing the unseen infections in the air to physically seen on walls, tabletops, and corners.

Our Final take on Humidifier and Diffuser Difference

Both the diffuser and humidifier are available products tailored to their individual purposes, and some even use both at the same time due to the need arising.

However, they would both come in handy at several points in time in the home, and you should really have them at your disposal. Also remember, they are pretty useful and harmless to the extent to which they are correctly used.

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