How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser?

How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser (A Beginner’s Guide and FAQ)

Posted on Posted in Essential Oils Basics

Essential oils have many uses and benefits. Through Aromatherapy, they seem to have taken over the world of natural remedies. Among all those uses, some are more effective than others and that’s the case of diffusers. But, when you’re new at using essential oils, you must wonder how to use essential oils in a diffuser.


And for good reason too! To help you get started, I will give you the answers to some frequently asked questions. They will help you with the basic knowledge about diffusing essential oils.


How exactly do diffusers work and what do essential oils really do when they’re diffused? Why should you even use an essential oil diffuser? All these questions and many others will find their answer in the following chapter.


After establishing the basic knowledge for essential oil diffusers, you can then move on. Move on to types of diffusers you can use and understand their benefits. Also, learn how to diffuse essential oils in each type of  diffuser.


It is only natural to also know the precaution measures to take while diffusing essential oils. They will be unraveled in the last chapter of the article. You’ll then get to see what essential oils are recommended to use for specific needs like relaxation, sleeping, etc.


As soon as you’ll get past this first chapter you’ll see it’ll all start making some sense. That being said, let’s begin.



Short Q & A on Why and How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser


Essential oils can be used in so many ways! Each person can choose one depending on their situation and needs. The best part about diffusing essential oils is that you can actually enjoy all of their properties in a quite high concentration.


How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser


  • What does essential oils diffusion mean and how does it all work?


Diffusion is a process. It’s a process that releases tiny molecules of essential oils into the air. Those molecules travel through your nasal passage into the brain, lungs and kidneys. Through inhalation, the essential oils molecules go into the bloodstream in a percentage of 50% – 70%.


Inhalation is the second best method to get the oils into the bloodstream. It’s the second after injections. But the injection of essential oils is never ever recommended!



  • Why diffuse essential oils?


Essential oil molecules have the power to destroy germs and bacteria that thrive in the air. They can be diffused into a working or living space because:


a)  Essential oils can refresh the air where you live or work.

b)  They can inhibit mold growth.

c)  Used regularly, essential oils can prevent and improve microbial infections or inflammations.

d)  They can help strengthen the immune system.

e)  They can also remove foul odors like cigarette smoke, molded fruits & vegetables, etc.

f)  When you inhale, essential oil molecules go into the brain. They can influence your nervous system and improve your mood.

g)  They can also help oxygenate the brain and all the other organs.

h)  Essential oils can help you sleep better and relax more often.

i)  During the cold season, they can help you breathe easier. They can protect against many respiratory infections.

j)  Combine a massage blend with the diffusion of certain essential oils. That way you’ll get relief from muscular pain, migraines or sore joints.

k)  Essential oils can help you focus better during exams or important projects. Diffuse Rosemary essential oil or citrus oils for that purpose.

l)  Essential oils can also help repel bugs, mosquitoes, moths and ants. Diffuse Lavender to keep them away from your home.



  • How often can you diffuse your favorite  aromatic oils?


You can do it several times a day, as long as you keep in mind a few things. First of all, these concentrated essences are very powerful and their aroma may cause headaches or nausea. That’s why the room you diffuse them in should always be well ventilated.


Also, studies show that diffusing (thus inhaling) essential oils for more than 60 minutes can raise blood pressure and make you more agitated and nervous.


The safest way to enjoy the benefits of your oils and get the relief and relaxation you want, is by diffusing them for 20 – 30 minutes, every two hours. Once you stop the diffuser, the oils will still be present in the air and inhaled. This means the inhalation will last more than 30 minutes, but well below 60!



  • Why use essential oils in a diffuser and how to purify the air with one?


Pollution is charged with positive ions. According to the French physicist Jean Bricard, healthy air is charged with negative ions. For instance, at the top of the mountains or around waterfalls, the air is charged with fifty thousand negative ions.


In a forest, the charge is about three thousand and in an office, the charge drops down to twenty. Essential oils charge the air with negative ions. Thus, the air purification can be done through the diffusion of essential oils. They can eliminate the positive ions of pollution and give you pure air to breathe.



  • What type of essential oil should you use in a diffuser?


How to use essential oils in a diffuser is not complicated, but you need to make sure they’re good quality. As long as the essential oils you want to use are pure, Aromatherapy grade you can use almost anything.


There are a few exceptions though. There are a few dangerous essential oils that shouldn’t be diffused and you should know about them too. In the last chapter of this article, I will give you a list with those essential oils.


Generally speaking, you should stay away from essential oils that contain alcohol. Also, essential oils mixed with vegetable oils are not recommended in diffusion either. Essential oils evaporate during the diffusion, while vegetable oils don’t. They will only ruin the glass or get stuck on the water recipient of your diffuser.


How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser


  • How do you clean your essential oils diffuser?


Depending on the type of diffuser, if it has a special recipient for essential oils then you’ll have to clean it regularly. Essential oils oxidize after a few days of being exposed to air. You should either use a few drops whenever you diffuse an essential oil or replace them regularly.


If the recipient of the diffuser is plastic or ceramic, you can clean it with warm water and a bit of dish soap. If you’re using a nebulizer, the glass used there as a recipient may be very fragile. To avoid damaging or breaking the glass you should make a vinegar and water solution. Spray it on all the parts, leave on for a few minutes and then rinse with lukewarm water.


These would be the most common questions and answers for those who’ve never used a diffuser before. Of course, if you have a question that I didn’t foresee, then please don’t be shy and ask me in the comments section. I’ll make sure to give you a clear and detailed answer.


Next on our list is finding out how to use essential oils in a diffuser in a simple way. But you will also find out more about the many types of diffusers that are available on the market, and not only.



Types of Essential Oil Diffusers and Ways to Diffuse Essential Oils


I have divided the types of essential oil diffusers in 3 categories. There will be inexpensive diffusers, moderate price diffusers and more expensive diffusers. I will tell you how to use essential oils in diffusers from each category. You will then see their advantages and disadvantages and make informed decisions when buying one.



Inexpensive Essential Oil Diffusers


1/ Tissue or cotton pad diffusers.


How to use essential oils in a diffuser so simple and inexpensive? The cotton pads will absorb the essential oils and disperse them into the air for a brief period of time. Every time you move, it can send waves of essential oil molecules and aromas. Add 4 – 5 drops of your favorite essential oil and place the pad close by.


Unfortunately, in a matter of 2 or 3 hours the scent will slowly fade away. Essential oils oxidize in contact with air so that’s the main concern for using this diffusion method. Replacing the tissue each day would solve that problem though. Otherwise, you could still use it for a fast inhalation at work or in a bus.



2/ Terra-Cotta dishes or pendant diffusers


How to use essential oils in a diffuser made from Terra-Cotta? Well, this fired clay is well-known for its porous and absorbent qualities. Once you pour a few essential oil drops onto a Terra-Cotta surface, it will start diffusing the scent right away.


This is the part where you should make sure you absolutely like the oil you’re diffusing. Otherwise, you’ll not be able to switch off the scent. However, the aroma will not last a long time and it will need constant refreshing.


How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser


3/ Steam diffusers


This method requires some boiled water and a few drops of essential oil. The steam of the boiling water will help the oils disperse through the atmosphere. But, once the water cools off, the oils will no longer be diffused. It will, however, work as a fast method to purify and remove foul odors before your guests show up.



Essential Oil Diffusers with Moderate Prices


1/ Electric heat essential oil diffusers


How to use essential oils in a diffuser that involves electricity and heat? The only difference between this diffuser and the candle burner is that you don’t need a candle anymore. When you turn it off, you don’t get a nasty smell like when using candles.


But, the principle is the same. Heat will help the oil molecules disperse into the air and the scent can last a longer time. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil or oils in a cup of water and place on the electric heat diffuser. Keep it plugged it for as long as necessary, and make sure you check on the water constantly.


How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser


2/ Candle burners


How to use essential oils in a diffuser that involves candles? You could either let a candle burn for a few minutes until it melts and add a few drops in the melted wax. Make sure you don’t pour the oils over the wick. Also make sure you don’t keep it too close to your face when lighting the candle. Essential oils catch fire very fast. Or you can use a traditional ceramic candle burner.


You should check the water in the small recipient of the candle burner, as it will evaporate fast. Candle burners are a good way of controlling the scent and its intensity in your home. Let the candle burn for 15 – 20 minutes and then extinguish it. Light it again in a few hours and make sure the room is well ventilated.


Allow at least an hour between changing essential oils in the burner. They are powerful and they can make you dizzy or nauseated if you diffuse too much or too often.



3/ Ultrasonic waves diffusers


These diffusers use water and ultrasonic waves. They help essential oils disperse better in the air and they can last a long time, even after turning them off. They can be programmed and they also make a nice décor piece. At the same time, if it’s too cheap, an ultrasonic diffuser can also break more easily or stop working for various reasons.


More expensive ones will last a long time though. Add between 7 – 15 drops of essential oils in the bowl of the ultrasonic diffuser and let it wrap around you with its mist. Depending on the manufacturer’s indications, you can add more or less drops.



More Expensive Essential Oil Diffusers


1/ Nebulizers


How to use essential oils in a diffuser that’s normally used in labs or for medicinal purposes?  It’s exactly this reason why they’re among the best essential oil diffusers right now. They’re also expensive. The water recipient is made out of a very fragile, but good quality glass.


There, the essential oil molecules are transformed into even tinier particles. They are released into a fine mist. That makes the oils last longer in the air, even 2 or 3 hours after the nebulizer has been stopped.


Some even consider nebulizers safer because they don’t use heat. They play the role of dehumidifiers as well. Follow the manufacturer’s indications as per how much water and essential oil drops you can use.


Now you know how to use essential oils in a diffuser, no matter the type you’re using. But you should also know about the precautions that go with their use.



Recommended Essential Oils per Type of Need and Precautions


You can control the intensity of your essential oils scent by adding more or less, depending on the space or need. For instance, to improve respiratory problems during the cold season, you can add up to 10 drops of essential oil in your diffuser. For the other needs you can lower the quantity of essential oil drops accordingly.



Recommended essential oils for FOUL ODORS:


  • May Chang essential oil (also known as Litsea cubeba)
  • Pine essential oil.
  • Lavender essential oil (lavandula angustifolia)
  • Cedar essential oil.
  • Peppermint essential oil.
  • Juniper essential oil.
  • Lemon essential oil.



Recommended essential oils to REPEL INSECTS:


  • Geranium essential oil.
  • Peppermint essential oil.
  • Lemongrass essential oil.
  • Lavandin essential oil.
  • Clove essential oil.



Recommended essential oils for EASIER BREATHING:


  • Rosemary essential oil.
  • Lavender essential oil (angustifolia type)
  • Peppermint essential oil.
  • Niaouli essential oil.
  • Eucalyptus essential oil.
  • Pine essential oil.
  • Chamomile essential oil
  • Thyme essential oil.



Recommended essential oils for TOTAL RELAXATION:


  • Sweet Orange essential oil.
  • Chamomile essential oil.
  • Marjoram essential oil.
  • Rose Geranium essential oil.
  • Ylang-Ylang essential oil.
  • Lavender essential oil.


How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser


Precaution measures needed when using essential oils in a diffuser


There are a few things you should take into consideration before and during the diffusion of essential oils:


  • Children and pets should not be exposed to intense essential oil diffusions. You can either keep the diffuser in a room where they don’t have access, or put it some place wide and high enough to enjoy a subtle aroma.


  • Pregnant women, diabetics and people with other health conditions should not diffuse essential oils for a long time. Or without the consent of a doctor.


  • Test the essential oils you want to use for allergies. Pour a drop on your wrist or soft inside of the elbow and wait a few hours. Make sure there’s no allergic reaction before using them.


  • Don’t over diffuse essential oils. They may cause headaches, nausea, vertigo and even vomiting.



Here are those essential oils that are considered irritating to the mucous membrane. They should not be diffused at all if there are other health concerns involved. Or diffuse a very tiny amount in a wide space to avoid irritating your nasal passages.


  • Peppermint essential oil.
  • Thyme that contains thymol essential oil.
  • Caraway essential oil.
  • Clove essential oil.
  • Cinnamon essential oil.
  • Lemongrass essential oil.
  • Bay essential oil.



The purpose of this article was to help all beginners learn how to use essential oils in a diffuser. Besides that, you’ve also found out the reasons why people like or need to diffuse essential oils in their living or working space. Just a few drops of a favorite essential oil and everything might change for the better in an instant.


Make sure you don’t overuse them and be careful with those that can irritate the mucous membrane. Be safe and enjoy the benefits of essential oils every day in your improvised or bought diffusers.


What type of essential oil diffuser are you using? How many times a day do you use it? I would very much like to know which ones are your favorites.




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9 thoughts on “How to Use Essential Oils in a Diffuser (A Beginner’s Guide and FAQ)

  1. I purchased an ultrasonic diffuser and want to try making my own blends. I am wanting to use a recipe that uses chamomile but the shop where I purchase essential oils only carries 10% chamomile with 90% jojoba oil. Can I put this in my diffuser or will it clog it?

    1. Hey Izzy, thanks for your comment!

      Carrier oils should not be used in diffusers, especially ultrasonic or nebulizing ones, because they can clog the device. I suggest finding pure, undiluted essential oils to mix and use in your new diffuser.

      Take care now 🙂

  2. Hello, information you give above is easy to understand do not have to much unneeded details
    And is usefull. The only thing I cant find is how often I can diffuse oils at home.
    I have ultrasonic diffuser and need to know if I can use it every day, or only couple times a week.
    I would like it 24/7 to be on  is this harmfull?

    1. Hi Simona,

      Thank you for your feedback, I’m always happy to know my articles are useful to my readers. That’s an excellent question!

      You can use your ultrasonic diffuser every day, as long as you do it in a well ventilated room and don’t diffuse for longer than 30 minutes, once every two hours.

      If it has a timer and you can set it to start diffusing every 2 hours, you could also keep it on 24/7. I’ve also added this information in the article.

      Hope to see you around! 🙂

      1. Hello, thanks to your replay. My diffuser only has time for 1-3-6 hours to be on. Can you let me know any diffusers which can be set up for periods of time. Like you mentioned 30 min on and sime time off and then back on again. Many thanks

        1. Unfortunately, I haven’t found one either yet.
          Just like you, I have to turn it off manually, or program it for one hour.
          It’s not ideal, but I don’t mind 🙂

  3. Hi and thank you for the information that I have seen. I was given an Aroma Diffuser and the name is EASEHOLD Aroma Diffuser. I have never used a diffuser. I need to know how to use it and when I need to clean it. Right now it has a strong smell of something like Christmas smells. I would like to get rid of that and use another. It doesn’t have any water in it. Does it automatically change when you use another fragrance?

    1. Hi Marsha,

      I suggest washing the water recipient of your diffuser like the manufacturer says, or as I suggest in one of the questions in this article. It depends on what it is made of… you could use warm water + soap or vinegar + water. That will remove all traces of fragrance left from previous uses.

      I’m not sure what you mean with the last question, but the water recipient needs to be refilled every now and then, to diffuse the oils properly.

      I hope this helps 🙂

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